Rovira 2005

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arguing against Fish 2001

"Milton believed that books have a dual nature, just like people, a corporeal and incorporeal, and that the two together make up an organic whole. His identification of books with reason is meant to be taken as literally as his language will allow. Books are the "breath of reason itself." On the other hand, Milton's use of metaphor was employed to describe the physical nature of books, the characteristics of books as objects. Metaphorically books "preserve as in a violl" what is to be literally understood as an "extraction of the living intellect that bred them." Milton does assert a dichotomy between books as objects and books as reasoning agents, but this is a dichotomy between interdependent halves, like a human body and a human soul." (90)

language == reason; books contain language, therefore contain reason

books as objects vs. books as reasoning agents

  • readers like Fish and Cable impose a modern dichotomy between ideas and objects, as if ideas could exist independent of the objects that contain them; but Milton did not have this distinction (96)

books/texts aren't simply second selves, simulacra of the people who produced them, but once unleashed into the world become reasoning agents in themselves (98)