In book 9 of "Paradise Lost" near the end of what is generally referred to as the separation scene, Eve speaks of Adam's 'reasoning words' (379) as she prepares to leave her husband's side to garden alone. For a writer who focused on the importance ...
of debate and the consequences of choices in his three major epics - "Paradise Lost", "Paradise Regained", and "Samson Agonistes" - and who depicted the awesome power of temptation in poetry and prose alike, Milton consistently argued that 'God...trusts [his created being] with the gift of reason to be his own chooser' (Areopagitica), whether that chooser be Satan, Eve, Adam, the Son, the English people, the reader, or Milton himself.As he states in "Of Education", 'language is but the instrument conveying to us things useful to be known' (631). While the ten essays that make up this collection are intentionally diverse in subject matter, emphasis, and approach, what unifies them is a common interest in aspects of language, or, as the title suggests, 'reasoning words'. Charles W. Durham is Professor Emeritus of English at Middle Tennessee State University. Kristin A. Pruitt is Professor Emerita of English at Christian Brothers University.