[DWJ] Query on DWJ and Milton

Kyra Jucovy arykiy at gmail.com
Mon Sep 29 21:47:26 EDT 2014

Not at all, Jameela, I'm sure that I was being excessively oblique since I
was so excited to respond to your query that I did it in rather a rush when
I was supposed to be going somewhere else ;-)

Anyway, I assume you were just joking about Milton reading Shelley and are
aware of this already, but for the benefit of any interested readers who
are not, in the preface to *Prometheus Unbound*, Shelley directly
references Milton a couple of times, in particular making comparisons
between Satan and Prometheus suggesting some influence of Milton on
Shelley's choice and treatment of his subject: "The only imaginary being,
resembling in any degree Prometheus, is Satan; and Prometheus is, in my
judgment, a more poetical character than Satan, because, in addition to
courage, and majesty, and firm and patient opposition to omnipotent force,
he is susceptible of being described as exempt from the taints of ambition,
envy, revenge, and a desire for personal aggrandizement, which, in the hero
of *Paradise Lost*, interfere with the interest. The character of Satan
engenders in the mind a pernicious casuistry which leads us to weigh his
faults with his wrongs, and to excuse the former because the latter exceed
all measure. In the minds of those who consider that magnificent fiction
with a religious feeling it engenders something worse. But Prometheus is,
as it were, the type of the highest perfection of moral and intellectual
nature impelled by the purest and the truest motives to the best and
noblest ends."

As for the link between Shelley and *The Homeward Bounders*, well (she said
modestly), that's my own work -  back in 2006, I was getting a MA in
English and taking a wonderful graduate course on the Younger Romantics,
and ended up writing Minnow from this list (who knew DWJ personally) to ask
her about any connection between Shelley and THB:
"Anyway, you probably don't remember this, but, a year and a half ago, when
I was reading through the English canon and studying for graduate school, I
wrote a post about *The Homeward Bounders* and Shelley and Platonism. At
the time, I thought it was interesting to compare Shelley's writing and
DWJ's writing about how Prometheus got unbound. Shortly thereafter, I
actually reread THB and enjoyed the book more than ever - I also thought
about it a lot.

Now, I'm taking a truly wonderful and inspiring course on Byron, Shelley,
and Keats. We're currently working on Shelley, and I find myself, with each
class session, wondering more and more to what extent DWJ was consciously
thinking of Shelley while writing THB. To some extent, surely the
similarities in the concerns that the two writers have are simply down to
the fact that they're both drawing on the same myth. I mean, the story of
this gift-giving figure who is bound for his defiance to tyranny and
eventually winds up freed is inherently a messianic one, and any story you
tell about him is probably going to be about revolution, about idealism, so
on and so forth. And I do think that the views that DWJ presents on these
issues are quite different from Shelley's in many ways (but in oh, such
interesting ways!).

But I can't help but ask, anyway. I mean, in the online lecture by DWJ
about the Middle Ages, she says at the end "I do know really where I'm
getting it from and it is intentional and very grateful I am too." And
then, when we talk about Shelley in class, his concerns in general seem to
have so much to do with THB, not just what he writes about in *Prometheus
Unbound*. I'd never known before that he was obsessed with the figure of
the Wandering Jew, for instance. And, going back to *Prometheus Unbound*
itself, there's that line-and-a-bit at the end of it that says, "to hope,
till Hope creates / From its own wreck the thing it contemplates." And I
read that and can't help thinking about THB."

And I got this response from DWJ as conveyed by Minnow: ""But Kyra is quite
right about *THE HOMEWARD BOUNDERS*. Shelley very definitely lies behind
it. I did a lot of work on Shelley just after I came down from Oxford and
before I got married, and it later bore fruit. Do tell her that she is spot

I am too intimidated by Shelley ever to actually write successfully about
this, but I do have a list of rough notes on the topic that I can send you
if you are further interested in it.  It's a bit long, though, as well as
being fairly incoherent, so I wouldn't want to inflict it on the list ;-)


On Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 7:58 AM, Jameela Lares <jameela.lares at usm.edu>

> Kyra,
> Could you explain further?  I love Shelley, including his _Prometheus
> Unboard_, though I doubt that Milton read it (ha ha). I love as well as
> _the Homeward Bounders_, but I don't offhand remember any reworking of
> Shelley in that text.
> I hope I am not being impossibly thick in asking for clarification. . . .
> Jameela Lares
> Professor of English
> The University of Southern Mississippi
> 118 College Drive, #5037
> Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
> 601 266-4319 ofc
> 601 266-5757 fax
> ________________________________________
> From: Dwj [dwj-bounces at suberic.net] on behalf of Kyra Jucovy [
> arykiy at gmail.com]
> Sent: Monday, September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
> To: Diana Wynne Jones discussion
> Subject: Re: [DWJ] Query on DWJ and Milton
> Even if there aren't many direct references, I still feel that your
> provocative comment remains valid, given the lineage from *Paradise
> Lost* through
> to *Prometheus Unbound *through to *The Homeward Bounders*. ;-)
> ----Kyra
> On Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 11:29 PM, Jameela Lares <jameela.lares at usm.edu>
> wrote:
> > I ran into a question on the Milton list and wondered if anyone here had
> > any thoughts.  Briefly, someone in Italy asked why he did not see much
> > Milton in Tolkien, with my taking the position that despite the fact that
> > both men wrote epics, Milton would hardly have been to Tolkien's creative
> > tastes.  As threads do, this one became diffuse. One of the older
> > listmembers hadheard Tolkien lecture at Oxford.  Well, actually, he
> > couldn't hear, so he stopped going. So I mentioned that DWJ stayed in a
> > Tolkien lecture all term.  At which point it struck me that I have never
> > particularly noticed Milton in DWJ, either, though I can't see any
> > particular reason that she would make use of him. I don't even remember
> > hearing if she particular read him or commented on him, but it is a bad
> > grading (marking) period for me right now, so there is no telling what I
> > usually know.
> >
> > So my question is if DWJ said anything about Milton or made any
> > recognizable use of him in her works.
> >
> > (By the way, I often make the provocative comment to my students at the
> > beginning of a Milton course that he summarized everything that came
> before
> > him and influenced everything that came after.  As a provocative
> statement,
> > it has its uses.  I also believe it, most days.  Even Tolkien taught
> > Paradise Lost, books 1-2.)
> >
> > Cheers,
> >
> > Jameela Lares
> > Professor of English
> > The University of Southern Mississippi
> > 118 College Drive, #5037
> > Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
> > 601 266-4319 ofc
> > 601 266-5757 fax
> >
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> >
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