J. Barkley Rosser, Jr. rosserjb at
Thu Mar 4 10:47:59 PST 1999

I am going to take this opportunity (thanks, Carrol for providing a good response to Pollak), to alte my remarks about the Paradise Lost parallel in Tolkien's work (Carrol and I have been discussing this mostly offlist). I said that Melkor/Morgoth (Satan equivalent) was a wannabe monarch. But, in fact, he looks more like a Protestant bourgeois capitalist against the anti-industrial feudal Catholicism of Tolkien's Paradise. In "The Music of the Ainur" Melkor's original rebellion is that of introducing discordant notes and melodies into the celestial music of the Ainur led by Eru/Iluvatar (God equivalent). Obviously this is nasty Protestants disrupting the Pope and then, of course, Sauron and Saruman were industrial capitalists cutting down trees and building ugly factories. This "green" aspect was one part of Tolkien's popularity with hippies in the late 60s. Barkley Rosser -----Original Message----- From: Carrol Cox <cbcox at> To: lbo-talk at <lbo-talk at> Date: Thursday, March 04, 1999 12:04 PM Subject: Re: Milton

>Michael Pollak wrote:
>> Barkley Rosser wrote:
>> > But, another interpretation is that Satan is the radical egalitarian
>> > > >attempting to overthrow the hierarchy of God above all else
>> > > >gender neutral Man).
>> Um, who makes this interpretation, Barkley? I'm curious how they can
>> out Milton's Hell to be anything but hierarchical with Satan at the top.
>While I disagree with this radical egalitarian interpretation of Satan, and
>have written some 60,000 words (12,000 of them published) maintaining
>that disagreement, still Michael's objection won't hold, for a couple of
>reasons. First, in response to his "who?" the answer is any number of
>readers of the poem, including some fairly bright people (e.g., Blake and
>Shelley). But the larger reason is generic: epic as a genre simply won't
>tolerate "correct readings." So if you want Satan as a radical egalitarian,
>there is nothing whatsoever to prevent you from so having him. That
>is not my Satan: my Satan (as William Empson suggests) is one of
>English Barons who imposed the Magna Charta because the king was
>interfering with their right to sock it to the peasantry. Satan's rebellion
>then becomes a replay of Shakespeare's *Richard II* in which the Duke
>loses because Milton's Son has a bit more power (and willingness to
>use it) than Shakespeare's Richard.

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