Despite Milton's preoccupation with origins, these elude him: his creation stories are always mediated. Even the creation of the universe is not depicted as a single event that occurred once and for all time in a distant past; instead, world-order ...
must be perpetually reasserted, before the ever present threat of chaos. That description of Milton's universe also applies to his other creation, the poem, where the chaos that forever threatens is the abyss of interpretation. Milton's creations are not asserted despite this threat, but because of it; that is, chaos does not simply threaten to undo order, for chaos inheres in it. While Milton's inability to discover a privileged origin allies him with postmodernism - and so this study, originally published in 1988, engages thinkers like Freud, Nietzsche, Derrida, and Lacan - that insight is far more ancient. According to Regina Schwartz, the Bible offers Milton his pattern of repeated beginnings.