What Lewis learned from Milton, The

psychology of temptation in Perelandra and Paradise Lost: What Lewis learned from Milton, The

Tanner, John S

DURING the late 1930s and early 1940s, C. S. Lewis composed a space trilogy set on Mars, Venus, and Earth, respectively. In the middle novel, Perelandra, Lewis imagines a new myth of the Fall-only this time there is no Fall. Instead, through their obedience, Lewis’ primal pair achieve for themselves and their posterity a more glorious, exalted mode of life than that which we endure owing to “Man’s First Disobedience, and the Fruit / Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste / Brought Death into the World, and all our woe” (Paradise Lost 1.1-3).’ Published only a year after A Preface to Paradise Lost, Perelandra is deeply influenced by Paradise Lost. Even its intriguing premise works out a possibility hinted at by Milton: what would have happened had our first parents been obedient? “If ye be found obedient, and retain / Unalterably firm his [God’s] love entire” (PL 5:501-02), an angel tells Milton’s Adam and Eve:

Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit, Improv’d by tract of time, and wing’d ascend Ethereal, as wee, or may at choice Here [i.e., in Eden] or in Heav’nly Paradises dwell. (5.497-500)z

Perelandra envisions the prospect of progress without a fall, in very similar terms. Lewis’ Adam-figure, Tor, explains that, having not fallen, he and his regal consort, Tinidril, will “fill this world with our children,” “know this world to the centre,” “make the nobler beasts so wise that they will . . . speak,” and understand the “Deep Heaven” until, at last, “Our bodies will be changed, but not all changed. We shall be as the eldila [angels], but not all as eldila. And so will all our sons and daughters. . . .” (211).

In addition to supplying the premise for Perelandra, Paradise Lost also informs the novel’s central core and most arresting feature: the subtle way Lewis re-imagines the Temptation. In Perelandra, this involves only the Woman, who remains unnamed and separated from her consort until the conclusion of the novel. Lewis’ Eve-figure is a magnificent green lady living on floating islands of the planet Venus, a beautifully fluid world called Perelandra. Lewis devotes most of the novel to the Lady’s temptation, tracing her growth from a condition of immediacy to selfreflectiveness. Her maturation is modulated through an intricate series of psychological stages initiated by dialogues with two beings from earth: Ransom, a humanist professor like Lewis; and Weston (later called the Unman), an evil physicist whose body is demonically possessed. These figures function as the Lady’s good and bad angels, respectively. Ransom attempts to defend the Lady, the Unman to tempt her. Throughout, the Lady resists temptation but is made “older” and worn down by it. In the end, she must be rescued, which Ransom does by destroying the Unman.

The temptation of a guiltless yet growing character imposes a delicate and difficult challenge for Lewis. He must accommodate the Lady’s increasing consciousness of evil, which seems to move her ever closer to transgression, without compromising her innocence. This is no easy task. But Lewis carries it off brilliantly, in large measure owing to what he had learned from Milton’s treatment of the same problem in Paradise Lost. Indeed, a good way to gauge Lewis’ achievement in imagining the psychology of temptation is to situate his novel in the critical controversy over the way Milton motivates the Fall. Placing Perelandra in the context of this critical crux in Paradise Lost highlights the novel’s theological and artistic ingenuity. At the same time, it reminds us that in Perelandra Lewis works within a long literary and philosophical tradition-stretching back well before Milton to early Christian writers like Augustine, and continuing well after Lewis to contemporary Christian philosophers like Paul Ricoeur, to name only two important Christian thinkers who have wrestled with the perplexing problem of the incipience of evil in a truly sinless being.3

The crux in Milton criticism that most illuminates Perelandra is known as the problem of a fall before the Fall.4 This controversy heated up shortly after Lewis published, in rapid succession, A Preface to Paradise Lost and Perelandra. In the mid-40s, critics began to take Milton to task for the way he makes the Fall seem plausible by inventing a series of preliminary gestures foreshadowing it-such as when, Narcissus-like, Eve admires her beauty in a pool (4.449 ff.); or when she dreams about eating the forbidden fruit (5.28 if.); or when she insists on working alone as a way of asserting her independence (9.205 ff.). According to E. M. W. Tillyard, there was no way for Milton of making the transition from sinlessness to sin perfectly intelligible: “Under the terms of the story these two realms must be separated by a definite and dimensionless frontier: there cannot be a no-man’s-land between” (10). Therefore, Milton “resorts to some faking. . . . He anticipates the Fall by attributing to Eve and Adam feelings which though nominally felt in the state of innocence are not actually compatible with it” (Tillyard 10-11). That is, to make the transgression seem plausible, Milton surreptitiously introduces fallen motives into Adam and Eve before they fall. As A. J. A. Waldock observes in a book aimed largely against Lewis’ reading of Milton, “It is obvious that Adam and Eve must already have contracted human weakness before they can start on a course of conduct that leads to their fall: to put it another way, they must already be fallen (technically) before they can begin to fall” (61). Such remarks fueled a critical controversy over the poem’s account of prelapsarian psychology. For some, the literary task of rendering the Temptation psychologically plausible seemed insuperable. Thus writer Millicent Bell,

The temptation, [is] an event which could not understandably occur before the Fall, an event which must actually be explained by motivations characteristic of men as we find them nowambition, curiosity, vanity, gluttony or lust. It is a bridge built of the material of fallen human nature, that is, from the substance of only one bank of the chasm, the one nearer us. From the farther bank, the anterior condition of unfallen perfection, the bridge takes nothing at all. For there is nothing in the Paradisal state that can furnish cause for man’s lapse from perfection. (863)

Indeed? I believe-and have argued at length elsewhere-that the way Milton motivates the Fall largely escapes his critics’ censure of faking (Tanner, chs. 3-5). The same is true, a fortiori, for Lewis, whose intricate account of temptation in Perelandra surely supplies causes that could plausibly have led to a lapse but which are compatible with perfection, as well as human “motivations characteristic of men as we find them now” which are precarious but blameless. Indeed, it was from Milton that Lewis learned how to think about unfallen motives for evil and indeterminate causes of sin. By this, I do not intend to imply that in Perelandra Lewis deliberately sets out to respond to the critical controversy over a fall before the Fall in Paradise Lost, a skirmish in the Milton controversy that largely postdates the publication of both Perelandra and A Preface to Paradise Lost.S But I do wish to argue that Lewis’ meticulous depiction of the Green Lady’s growth is deeply informed by Milton’s imagination of Eden. Perelandra both adapts and refines what he learned from Paradise Lost about the psychology of temptation in an innocent mind, and in the process addresses the very questions that would soon preoccupy Milton criticism.

To support this argument, let me turn again to the novel and focus on three Miltonic elements in Perelandra: one, fallen language; two, the “alongside” or self-reflection; and three, the “might be:’ Other commentators have identified many more similarities between Perelandra and Paradise Lost than these, but none has focused in detail on how Milton helped Lewis conceptualize a genuinely innocent psychology of temptation, which I regard as the principal Miltonic legacy in the novel, as well as its preeminent literary achievement.6

How does an innocent being, having no experience of evil, understand the fallen realities expressed in language about evil? This is a dimension of unfallen consciousness that intrigued both Milton and Lewis. It is a problem that is implicit but inconspicuous in Genesis, explicit but unobtrusive in Paradise Lost, and central in Perelandra.

In the Bible, God couples the prohibition with a threat. He warns Adam, “thou shah not eat of it [the fruit]: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shah surely die” (Genesis 2.17). Note, however, that the punishment alludes to a reality beyond Adam’s ken. For what can “die” mean to Adam in a Garden where there is no death? The dread voice of prohibition introduces an alien word, which presumably communicates the notion of something fearful, without imparting the full understanding of death as a concrete reality. It raises the specter of a fearful future, which momentarily disturbs Adam and Eve’s blissful existence and points to dreadful but unimaginable potentialities. The same could be said of the name of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Deposited in the name is a distinction between good and evil whose full significance awaits the transgression.

Milton highlights these linguistic dilemmas implicit in Genesis by greatly multiplying the number both of the fallen realities brought to the attention of unfallen Adam and Eve and of the voices which warn them. Milton’s Adam and Eve hear not only about death but about a rebellious angel’s pride and envy and hate; about a war in heaven; and about their own potential to disobey. And their garden is full of warning voices of God and angel. All this knowledge, however, remains somehow distant and alien to unfallen mankind. Abstract knowledge of evil remains qualified by Adam and Eve’s existential ignorance of its reality.

Adam’s aside, “whate’re death is,” speaks volumes. The aside reminds us, as readers, that unfallen beings may wield words of woe which they do not fully grasp. A Milton critic illustrates Adam’s predicament as follows:

To understand the full impact of what God has imposed upon Adam, we might render the situation in the following terms: “Do not touch the tip of your left ear with your right forefinger, or else you will squibbledydib.” Our response, like Adam’s; would appropriately be, “what’ere squibbledydib is, I Some dreadful thing no doubt:’ (Lieb 242)

Kierkegaard similarly observes that the word “die” in the prohibition does not have concrete meaning for Adam, but merely imparts a “notion of the terrifying” (45), and that the same holds true for “evil,” which is anticipated in the name of the forbidden fruit. Unfallen Adam and Eve thus must employ a lexicon that they cannot fully fathom. To be sure, they can speak of death and of a tree whose name figures forth the knowledge of good and evil. Yet, “[f]rom the fact that Adam was able to talk [about death and evil], it does not follow in a deeper sense that he was able to understand what was said” (Kierkegaard 45). The full significance of these realities are not available to Adam and Eve until after they fall.

Lewis, too, is fascinated by the problem of how an innocent being apprehends the alien reality of evil. Indeed, this is a major motif in Perelandra, much more so than in Paradise Lost. The Green Lady is constantly puzzled by words which refer to concepts outside of her experience. Indeed, one of the charms of the trilogy is watching Ransom, who like Lewis has a gift for metaphor, translate the fallen condition into language that unfallen beings on Mars and Venus can understand. My favorite metaphors are “bent” to describe evil and “old” to describe how the Lady feels every time she gains new understanding.

Ransom must constantly respond to language questions from the Lady such as these: “What is `peace’?”(57). “What is home? What is alone? (65)..And “What is dead?” (67). After Ransom explains death, the woman says, “I wonder . . . if you were sent here to teach us death” (67). Each new word that Ransom explains widens her world and makes the Lady older.

It also, ironically, readies her for temptation. As soon as Weston (or the Unman) arrives on Perelandra, he exploits the Lady’s growing knowledge to fix her mind on the alien possibility of transgression. Weston hammers on strange new words, filling them with halfapprehended content: “some meaning for the words Death and Sorrow-though what kind of meaning Ransom could not even guesswas apparently being created in her [the Lady’s] mind by mere repetition” ( 125). Thus, like Milton’s Adam and Eve, the Green Lady comes both to know and yet not fully understand fallen realities. These realities portend strange possibilities, which suffuse Lewis’ paradise, like Milton’s Eden, with anxiety and seem to move the protagonists ever closer to the brink. As the narrator observes when Ransom skins his knee, “This led him to try to explain to her what was meant by pain, which only made her more anxious to try the experiment” (80).

This remark echoes a deep irony about the psychology of temptation that Lewis may have learned from Milton. In Paradise Lost, God sends his archangel Raphael to warn Adam and Eve of their danger. But the more Adam and Eve are warned, the more concrete sin becomes and, consequently, the nearer they seem to danger rather than further from it. Thus Raphael functions much like Ransom: both unwittingly nudge innocent beings away from blissful ignorance by warning them about sin, which becomes an increasingly concrete and imaginatively alluring possibility in paradise the more it is forbidden just as the injunction “Don’t think about a hippopotamus!” ineluctably brings images of the bulky beast to mind.

Likewise, Raphael’s admonitory mission serves not only to render Adam and Eve accountable but to single out food, knowledge, sex, and freedom as sites of possible danger, whereas before these were simply aspects of immediate paradisal pleasure. By the time Satan finds Eve alone, she seems more, rather than less, likely to yield to his blandishments, in part because Adam and the angel have educated her so well in the possibility of sin. By Book 9, Milton’s paradise brims with anxiety and the forbidden fruit looms large in the mind of Eve as an object of dread and desire. Similarly, by the time the Unman arrives on Perelandra, the Lady is more susceptible to temptation than she was previously, owing ironically to the education in sinfulness Ransom had given her. For he gives her language that betokens alarming possibilities and that beckons her to explore heretofore hidden dangerous potentialities in herself. By the end of the temptation, the Lady can scarcely take her mind off the prospect of violating the taboo.

When Ransom first meets the Green Lady, she abides in a state of blissful immediacy. Her face is human, but “unearthly, despite the full humanity of every feature” (56). Ransom inaugurates her into a more human mode of existence by introducing her to what Lewis calls the “alongside” (60). This wonderful metaphor for self-consciousness describes that fundamental capacity for stepping outside ourselves and “looking before and after” (Hamlet 4.4.37), which perhaps best defines what separates human from animal consciousness. In their first extended dialogue, Ransom says something that causes the Lady to think in an entirely new way-self-reflectively. “I see that you come from a wise world,” says the Lady to Ransom, “if this is wise. I have never done it before-stepping out of life into the Alongside and looking at oneself living as if one were not alive. Do they all do that in your world, Piebald?” (60). Ransom thus sets the Lady’s foot on the path of self-reflectiveness. It is a path that can lead to much mischief-such as narcissism, hypocrisy, and pride. Yet it is also an enabling condition of freedom. This paradox is developed by both Milton and Lewis.

Milton describes a similar movement from immediacy to selfreflection for Adam and, more ominously, for Eve. Adam’s self reflection is described largely in terms of a growing sense of his own condition and how it compares to the rest of creation. When he awakes from creation he says, “I move and live, / And feel that I am happier than I know” (8.28182). Subsequently, he comes to know his blessed condition. At the same time, he also comes to use his capacity for ratiocination to justify disobedience (cf. PL 9.896 ff.).

A growing sense of the “alongside” is an even more conspicuous element in Eve’s maturation. In an episode that surely influenced Lewis’ characterization of the Green Lady, Milton describes Eve’s first moments of self-consciousness in terms that recall the myth of Narcissus. Eve sees her reflected image in a pool, admires her beauty, and is tempted to prefer her “wat’ry image” over the companionship of Adam (PL 4.449 ff.). This episode recalls the mirror scene in Perelandra in which the Unman exploits the Lady’s new-found ability to enjoy the “alongside” to tempt her to vanity. He offers her a mirror, and tempts her to indulge in self-love:

We call this thing a mirror. A man can love himself, and be together with himself. That is what it means to be a man or a woman-to walk alongside oneself as if one were a second person and to delight in one’s own beauty. Mirrors are made to teach us this art. (137)

The mirror temptation is followed by the temptation to indulge in a “dramatic conception of the self'(139)-both episodes enact temptations made possible by our capacity for the “alongside.” The Unman knows that if he can encourage theatrical self regard, he might be able to induce the Lady to think of herself as tragic figure. This, in turn, could be used to get her to disobey Maledil (God) out of a false sense of self-sacrifice, or out of an inflated view of injured merit. And in fact, the Lady begins to indulge in precisely such theatrical self-regard. She begins to relate to her own emotions histrionically; she begins to assume, “however slight,” the hint “of a role: ‘ Like Eve at the pool, the Green Lady is not fallen, but her characterization is touched by the tincture of self-regard which has the potential of turning into vanity.

To engage “alongside” self-consciousness, whether by means of a mirror or by indulging in role-playing, is not per se evil. The Lady is not sinfully vain or hypocritical any more than is Milton’s Eve. It is no sin to admire beauty or to be curious about one’s appearance. But these are modes of self-reflection that can be exploited for baleful ends. We fear this outcome in Perelandra, and see it fulfilled in Paradise Lost when Milton’s Eve at last succumbs to sin. At this moment, she acquires the sort of theatrical self that the Unman was trying to induce in the Lady. Eve’s first speech after her transgression contains a newly theatrical mode of selfreflection: “But unto Adam, in what sort / Shall I appear?” (9.816-17). For the first time, her self-reflection is about masks and specifically borne of a desire to manipulate Adam’s reactions. Similarly, Eve’s fallen speeches are highly theatrical; the narrator signaled this by introducing them using the language of stage directions like “prologue,” “apology,” and “prompt” (PL 9.853-54). Furthermore, Eve conceives herself and Adam as noble victims caught up in a fateful tragedy-very much the way the Unman wanted the Green Lady to think of herself. In short, fallen Eve becomes a hypocrite-a word which etymologically derives from the notion of an actor’s mask. In so presenting Eve, Milton reveals sinful possibilities of “the alongside,” possibilities which Lewis recognizes pose a clear danger to the Lady, even though they define an aspect of human consciousness which separates rational beings from the beasts.

The “alongside” serves as a metaphor for self-reflection. Related to this is the novel’s metaphor for freedom: the “might be:’ Ransom inaugurates the Lady’s consciousness of her own freedom by teaching her that she has a choice whether or not to obey Maledil’s prohibition not to sleep on fixed land. To which she says,

When will this end? . . . . I have grown so old in these last few hours that all my life before seems only like the stem of a tree, and now I am like the branches shooting out in every direction. They are getting so wide apart that I can hardly bear it. . . . to have learned that I walk from good to good with my own feet. . . . (75)

Subsequently, the Unman teaches the Lady to nurture thoughts of her own freedom, for God “has not forbidden you to think about dwelling on the Fixed Land” ( 104). In fact, he continues, perhaps God has forbidden one thing “so that you may have a Might Be to think about” (104). This expands the Lady’s world even wider:

This is more than I ever thought of. The other [i.e., Ransom] . . . has already told me things which made me feel like a tree whose branches were growing wider and wider apart. But this goes beyond all. Stepping out of what is into what might be and talking and making things out there . . . alongside the world. I will ask the King what he thinks of it. (104)

As the temptation progresses, the “might be” looms larger and larger in the Lady’s imagination, to the point that Lewis says she begins to “fondle the idea of disobedience” (131). She is not yet (or ever) fallen, Lewis insists, but certainly she is teetering on the brink, which deeply worries Ransom:

What made him feel sure that the dangerous element was growing [in the Lady] was her progressive disregard of the plain intellectual bones of the problem. It became harder to recall her mind to the data-a command from Maledil . . . She was still in her innocence. No evil intention had been formed in her mind. But if the will was uncorrupted, half her imagination was already filled with bright, poisonous shapes. ( 133-34)

Lewis’ conception of the “might be” is surely drawn from Milton’s portrait of Eve-most notably from her anxiety dream. In a demonically inspired dream, Eve imagines a story of what might be if she violates the taboo (5.28-93). It is a thrilling fantasy, but also one of chilling horror to Eve. And the dream leads to something like remorse, as Eve sheds a tear from each eye because she “fear’d to have offended” (5.135). Yet what she feels cannot, technically, be remorse because she has not sinned. Thus Adam assures her that “evil into the mind of God or Man ! May come and go, so unapprov’d, and leave / No spot of blame behind” (5.117-19): This passage draws on the same distinction between the imagination and the will which Lewis exploits above: Even though the Lady’s “imagination was already filled with bright, poisonous shapes,” she was still innocent because “her will was uncorrupted”; “no evil intention had been formed in her mind” (134).

Milton’s Eve, like Lewis’ Lady, is fascinated by the seductive allure of the taboo-by the “might be.” As her tempter says in the dream, the fruit is “Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet thus cropt, / Forbidd’n here” (PL 5.68-69). Eve experiences the same fascination with the forbidden in the actual temptation. Nonetheless, we also are told that she remains “yet sinless” through it all (9.659). Likewise Lewis says of the Green Lady, just before Ransom resolves that “this can’t go on” and decides to rescue her by force, “Up to this point the Lady had repelled her assailant. She was shaken and weary, and there were some stains perhaps in her imagination, but she had stood” (145).

Lewis then remarks that the events had east Ransom beyond anything he knew from the Bible: “In this respect the story already differed from anything that he [Ransom] certainly knew about the mother of our own race. He did not know whether Eve had resisted at all, or if so, for how long:’ Nor did he know if he should attempt to stop the temptation by force: this, too, “was a problem to which the terrestrial Fall offered no clue” (145). Ransom was in the dark about these matters. But Lewis assuredly was not. He knew that the Lady’s soul on the brink of her rescue-innocent yet gripped by growing anxiety-closely resembled that of Milton’s Eve, just as he knew from Milton something of the psychology of temptation that led the Lady to this predicament. Likewise, Lewis doubtless knew that Milton adumbrated how the story might have been different had Adam and Eve not fallen. He knew these things because he was a student not only of the Bible but of Paradise Lost, having just published a book-length commentary on Milton’s great epic retelling of the Fall. Clearly Lewis adapted Milton to compose his own version of the Temptation, which he called Perelandra. He might, however, in tribute to Milton, have added a subtitle: “Paradise Not Lost,” or “Paradise Retained” (McBride, 328, 331; cf. Boenig 142).


.1. Hereafter, abbreviated as PL.

2. Cf. PL 7:157-61. See also Danielson’s chapter on “soul-making,” esp. 177-79. Danielson argues that Milton envisages the possibility of growth had Adam and Eve not fallen as part of a theodicy that, like Perelandra, rejects the necessity of a fortunate fall.

3. See The City of God, Book XIV, chs. 10-13; The Symbolism of Evil, Part 11, ch. 3. For discussions of the Augustinian dimensions of the temptation in Perelandra, see essays by Brown and Rogers.

4. For a summary of the critical controversy over the fall before the Fall in Paradise Lost, see Tanner, 19-28.

5. See McBride for a recent bibliographic essay about C. S. Lewis and the Milton Controversy.

6. See Hannay and Schakel for the fullest comparisons to date between Perelandra and Paradise Lost.

Works Cited

Augustine. The City of God. Traps. Henry Bettenson. New York: Penguin, 1984. Bell, Millicent, “The Fallacy of the Fall in Paradise Lost.” PMLA 68 (1953): 863-83. Boenig, Robert. “Critical and Fictional Pairing in C. S. Lewis:’ The Taste of the Pineapple:

Essays on C. S. Lewis as Reader, Critic, and Imaginative Writer. Ed. Bruce L. Edwards. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State U Popular P, 1988. 138-48.

Brown, Robert F. “Temptation and Freedom in Perelandra:’ Renascence 37.2 (1985): 52-68.

Christensen, Inger. “`Thy Great Deliverer’: Christian Hero and Epic Convention in John Milton’s Paradise Lost and C. S. Lewis’s Perelandra:’ Excursions in Fiction: Essays in Honour of Lars Harveit on His 70th Birthday. Olso: Novus, 1994. 68-88.

Danielson, Dennis. Milton’s Good God: A Study in Literary Theodicy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1982.

Hannay, Margaret P. “A Preface to Perelandra.” The Longing for Form: Essays on the Fiction of C. S. Lewis. Ed. Peter J. Schakel. Ohio: Kent State UP, 1977. 73-90. Kierkegaard, Sren. The Concept of Anxiety. Traps. Reidar Thompte and Albert B.

Anderson. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1980.

Leib, Michael. “Paradise Lost and the Myth of Prohibition.” Milton Studies. 23 (1987): 233-65.

Lewis, C. S. A Preface to Paradise Lost. 1942. New York: Oxford UP, 1961. – . Perelandra. 1944. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

McBride, Sam. “C. S. Lewis’s A Preface to Paradise Lost, the Milton Controversy, and Lewis Scholarship.” Bulletin of Bibliography 52:4 (1995): 317-31.

Milton, John. John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose. Ed. Merritt Y Hughes. New York: Odyssey, 1957.

Ricoeur, Paul. The Symbolism of Evil. 1967. Traps. Emerson Buchanan. Boston: Beacon, 1969.

Rogers, Katherin A. “Augustinian Evil in C. S. Lewis’s Perelandra.” The Transcendent Adventure: Studies of Religion in Science Fiction/Fantasy. Ed. Robert Reilly. Westport: Greenwood, 1985. 83-91.

Tanner, John S. Anxiety in Eden: A Kierkegaardian Reading of Paradise Lost. New York: Oxford UP, 1992.

Tillyard, E. M. W. Studies in Milton. London: Chatto and Windus, 1951.

Waldock, A. J. A. Paradise Lost and Its Critics. 1947. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1966.

Professor and chair of the English Department at Brigham Young University, John S. Tanner recently served as associate academic vice president. He received his B.A. from BYU with “highest honors” and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. He has taught at Florida State University and, as a Senior Fulbright Lecturer, in Brazil. In addition to publishing numerous articles on religious literature, he is the author of Anxiety in Eden: A Kierkegaardian Reading of Paradise Lost (Oxford UP, 1992), which won the James Holly Hanford Award from the Milton Society of America. Tanner is the author of many personal essays on education and religion as well as several hymn texts. He is currently working on a book entitled “Grappling with God:’

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