The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2016 Tuesday, 16 November 1999.
Date: Tuesday, 16 Nov 1999 22:10:51 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Fall of Man
In regard to accounts of the Fall of Man, you may want to look at Thomas
More's English Treatise on the Passion (1534) and the Latin De tristitia
(1535) in Volumes 13 and 14 of the Yale Edition of the Complete Works of
St. Thomas More. (There is also a convenient modern-spelling edition in
the Selected Works of Thomas More, which also includes the translation
of the De tristitia.)
The Treatise on the Passion gives a summary of Salvation History from
the Fall of the Angels and the Fall of Man up to the Last Supper. The
Latin De tristitia, almost certainly More last work survives in an
autograph manuscript reproduced in facsimile in the Volume 14 of the
Yale Edition. It continues on from the Last Supper to the Agony in the
Garden, ending with the arrest of Jesus. The primary focus is on
Christ's psychological and spiritual suffering in the Garden of
More provides a strong counter-example to your claim (as does Ignatius
of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises which is almost contemporaneous with
More's Prison Writings). The primary focus in both the English Treatise
and especially in the Latin De tristitia is on redemption.
I once gave a paper on More and Milton, comparing Paradise Lost with
More's account of the Fall of Man. I would be the first to admit the
superiority of Milton's poem. However, it's a different matter with
Paradise Regained and the De Tristitia. If one can compare Latin prose
with English verse, I think More's portrait of Christ in De tristitia is
infinitely superior to Milton's.
Romuald (Ronnie) I. Lakowsk
P.S. Although Loyola's Spiritual Exercises are not strictly speaking
English Literature they had a strong influence in the Elizabeth period
and not just among English Catholics. The Fall is the focus of the
"First Week", but the history of Redemption is the primary focus of the
remaining three "Weeks".