Post-Apocalyptic Miltonic Times?
By Jason Courtney
I'm still reading Margaret Atwood's novel Oryx and Crake, in which Snowman, so-called because of his whiteness and sensitivity to the sun, recalls his pre-apocalyptic lover in his post-apocalyptic time, and imagines her saying:
Paradice is lost, but you have a Paradice within you, happier far. (Oryx and Crake, 362)Snowman imagines this because all he has left of her are memories and fantasies, though he is not happier, but sadder by far, so these words are questionable. This line, however, recalls Milton's line (587) in a passage of Paradise Lost 12.581-587:
. . . onely addThat's also questionable, I suppose, but what isn't? There's another direct allusion in Oryx and Crake to Milton's epic poem, one I noted mentally, thinking I would remember, but I now can't recall what it was! Perhaps some reader can jog my memory. Speaking of drawing upon Milton, I do so in my novella several times, as here:
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable, add Faith,
Add vertue, Patience, Temperance, add Love,
By name to come call'd Charitie, the soul
Of all the rest: then wilt thou not be loath
To leave this Paradise, but shalt possess
A Paradise within thee, happier farr.
I fixed my gaze on the drink, reflecting that this proffered taste hadn't come quite so freely as I had initially anticipated, but to obtain an entire bottle for a few drops of blood was surely a good bargain and therefore a wise choice. So thinking, I reached across the table in that moment and plucked the oddly heavy bottle from where it invitingly sat. Intent now wholly on a taste and regarding nothing else, I poured the big glass full to the brim with the heavy, dark beer and took a sip. It had the kind of flavor that one could describe as full-bodied, but there was also a possible hint, strangely enough, of something eldritch and gamey . . . something redolent of goat. Maybe satyrical? Was that even a word? And where had I picked up "eldritch"? I sipped again. No, no gamey taste at all. I had been in error. The flavor was delightful, as if the brewed barley had come from a perfect garden of earthly delights. Whether the bottle was truly so good, or merely fancied as such due to my thirst, I now drank greedily, without restraint, knowing not the drinking depth of that bottle, which easily filled the glass a second time full, again to the brim with the dark, strong beer. Downing it all, I poured another, and another, and another. Satiate at length and heightened with the alcohol, jocund and boon, feeling as though all of nature were as trembling with intoxication as myself, I thought, "Ah, virtuous drink, I now know, what I earlier held in obscure infamy, defaming at a glance Shoggoth's Old Peculiar, to be a blessing in disguise, for experience is the best teacher of wisdom in this, as in all things."Homework for my readers: Identify my Miltonic sources, and other sources, for that matter. Not that anybody is interested . . .