Library Notes - Oct 2019
Satan and Miss Bates
"Before considering the character of Milton's Satan it may be desirable to remove an ambiguity by noticing that Jane Austen's Miss Bates could be described either as a very entertaining or a very tedious person. If we said the first, we should mean that the author's portrait of her entertains us while we read; if we said the second, we should mean that it does so by being the portrait of a person whom the other people in Emma find tedious and whose like we also should find tedious in real life. For it is a very old critical discovery that the imitation in art of unpleasing objects may be a pleasing imitation.
The Hell [Satan] carries with him is, in one sense a Hell of infinite boredom, Satan, like Miss Bates is interesting to read about; but Milton makes plain the blank uninterestingness of being Satan."
(A Preface to Paradise Lost, CS Lewis (OUP 1942) pp.94,102.)