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Rudnytsky, P.L. (1988). “Here Only Weak” Sexuality and the Structure of Trauma in Paradise Lost. Psychoanal. Rev., 75(1):153-176.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Review, 75(1):153-176

“Here Only Weak” Sexuality and the Structure of Trauma in Paradise Lost

Peter L. Rudnytsky, Ph.D.

Whether the whole relation be not Allegorical, that is, whether the temptation of the Man by the Woman, be not the seduction of the rational and higher parts by the inferiour and feminine faculties: or whether the Tree in the midst of the Garden, were not that part in the Center of the body, in which afterward was the appointment of Circumcision in Males, we leave it unto the Thalmudist.'

—Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica


In Book VIII of Paradise Lost, near the end of his lengthy colloquy with Raphael beginning in Book V, Adam describes his extreme susceptibility to Eve's beauty. In contrast to the “delight” that he feels in objects of the natural world, but which induce in his mind “no change, / Nor vehement desire,” Adam acknowledges the tumult aroused in him by his fair consort:

but here

Far otherwise, transported I behold,

Transported touch; here passion first I felt,

Commotion strange, in all enjoyments else

Superior and unmov'd, here only weak

Against the charm of Beauty's powerful glance. (VIII.524-533)


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