Between Two Pillars: The Hero's Plight in Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regained

Overview

Between Two Pillars breaks free of the regenerist-revisionist controversy over Samson Agonistes by discerning a dialectical opposition between Samson's irrevocable election by God and his subjection—instanced by his slavery—to a fallen, un-Godly order. Complementing God's act of election is Samson's genius for inventing exploits that prove him God's mighty minister. In every episode, it is evident that his heroic drive and inventive powers persist, even though his helplessness absolutely forecloses a career of ...

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Overview

Between Two Pillars breaks free of the regenerist-revisionist controversy over Samson Agonistes by discerning a dialectical opposition between Samson's irrevocable election by God and his subjection—instanced by his slavery—to a fallen, un-Godly order. Complementing God's act of election is Samson's genius for inventing exploits that prove him God's mighty minister. In every episode, it is evident that his heroic drive and inventive powers persist, even though his helplessness absolutely forecloses a career of heroic action.The contradiction of his situation is both epitomized and transcended by his destruction of the temple. Performed in an act of servile idolatry, and horribly violent, it confirms his subjection to sin; yet, by destroying the theater of his servility, it asserts his identity of God champion. This reading is introduced by chapters on Samson's magnanimous pride, his violence, and the characteristic style of his exploits. It is then elaborated by close readings of each episode. A chapter on three late sonnets confirms the dialectical cast of Milton's imagination. Author Joseph Mayer provides a concluding section on Paradise Regained, which corroborates his reading of Samson Agonistes by showing parallels between the two works.

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Editorial Reviews

Milton Quarterly
Through a nuanced and sometimes inspired analysis, Mayer demonstrates the richness of Milton's characters and the author's insistence on the 'strenuous liberty' of living in a fallen world. Between Two Pillars: The Hero's Plight in Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regained should be commended for its ambitious analysis and the many individual insights it offers.
— Stephen B. Dobranski, Georgia State University
Milton Quarterly - Stephen B. Dobranski
Through a nuanced and sometimes inspired analysis, Mayer demonstrates the richness of Milton's characters and the author's insistence on the 'strenuous liberty' of living in a fallen world. Between Two Pillars: The Hero's Plight in Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regained should be commended for its ambitious analysis and the many individual insights it offers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761829720
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Mayer holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Boston University. His reading outside of Milton studies has centered on theology, particularly the works of Karl Barth. He has taught literature at the high school and college levels.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Preface Chapter 2 Introduction: The Dialectical Conception; Three Late Sonnets Chapter 3 Samson Agonistes: Samson's Pride; Samson's Maneuver; Samson's Violence; Movement in the Drama; Prolog; The Chorus; Manoa; Samson's Depair; Dalila; Harapha; The Officer; The Temple Chapter 4 Paradise Regained: Introduction; The Dialectical Problem; The Temptation of Bread; The Temptation of Banquet; The Temptation of Wealth; The Temptation of Glory; The Temptation of David's Throne; The Temptation of Kingdoms; The Tower Chapter 5 Appendix A Chapter 6 Bibliography Chapter 7 Index of Authors Cited

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