“The Visible Diurnal Sphere”: Space and Time

  • Malabika Sarkar


Within the cosmos of Paradise Lost, space and time are not absolute but relative, constructed through the perspectives of individual characters. In the vast region between Heaven and Hell, where Chaos and Night reign, space is an objective reality. The immensity of that region is repeatedly projected through phrases such as “wild abyss” (2.910, 917), “vast vacuity” (2.932), and “wild expanse” (2.1014). The realm of chaos combines the terrifying void of atomism with the endless darkness of Fludd’s Night to project a palpable sense of space as immense, unquantifiable, but real. The cosmic spaces of Milton’s epic, on the other hand, are dynamic and animated, equally immeasurable and undetermined, but constantly configured and reconfigured. Drawing attention to the intertexture of notions of “space” and “place” in Paradise Lost, Maura Brady suggests that Milton’s contribution to the understanding of modern space “lies in imagining what it would be like to inhabit a world whose governing physical concept is space.”1 Imagining space in their own individual way, Adam and Eve, Satan, and the angels who make their way through the cosmos contribute to the configuring of space, creating multiple perspectives, projecting space as exhilarating, infinite, and essentially uncertain.


Seventeenth Century Spatial Expansion Early Modern Period Infinite Space Astronomical Image 
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© Malabika Sarkar 2012

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  • Malabika Sarkar

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