Prior to the 2014 republication of Toni Morrison’s, Paradise, the novelist had not published any commentary about the role of literary influence John Milton might have had on her fictional writings. In a foreword to the republication of her 1997 novel, Morrison offers her first published acknowledgement of Milton’s influence on any work in her canon. My essay contends this Miltonic revelation constitutes a groundbreaking event in literary criticism. I explore the critical significance of this revelation by explicating the foreword, Milton’s significance within it, and its implications for reading the 17th-century epic writer’s (in)visible influential presence throughout Paradise
. Placing particular emphasis on the interpretive significance of Morrison’s womanist critique of Milton’s portrayal of Eve, my essay turns to a focus on the Convent women as interrogated replicas of the first mother presented in Paradise Lost
. This analysis of the novel enlarges the grounds of contention in Milton and African American studies, providing a richer interpretive reading experience that has never been cited or examined in existing literary criticism prior to now.
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