Anxiety in Eden: A Kierkegaardian Reading of Paradise Lost
Oxford University Press, 1992 - 209 pages
Tanner draws on the philosophic character of Milton's poetry and the poetic nature of Kierkegaard's philosophy, particularly his theory of anxiety, to enrich and enliven a bold new reading of Milton's Paradise Lost. Proposing that Milton and Kierkegaard were remarkably similar in temperament, life-experience, and ideological commitment, Tanner argues that for both Christian writers the path to sin and to salvation lies through anxiety--that both the poet and the philosopher include anxiety, along with pain, suffering, and paradox, within the compass of paradise. Both Milton's Paradise Lost and Kierkegaard's The Concept of Anxiety explore the psychology of innocence, sin, and guilt, probing the nature of human fallibility and freedom. The first half of the work explores anxiety in Eden before the Fall. This section provides fresh perspectives on such issues as free will, the problem of a fall before the Fall, original sin, the etiology of evil, and prelapsarian knowledge. The second half examines anxiety after the Fall, offering original insights into such issues as the demonic personality, remorse, despair, and faith. Taken as a whole, Tanner's study provides a philosophically coherent new reading of Paradise Lost. Further, though intended primarily as a work of literary criticism, the book touches on matters of broad philosophical, theological, and simply human interest--such as the nature of freedom, knowledge, sin, the self, and salvation. Anxiety in Eden will be of keen interest to literary scholars, philosophers, and theologians.
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