ABSTRACT

This article focuses on Adam's perspiration at the scene of his awakening in Paradise Lost, where immediately after his creation he finds himself “In balmy sweat.” Milton pointedly rejects the precedent of medieval scholastic writers, who excluded sweat from prelapsarian life and understood the substance as oriented toward death. Instead, Milton presents sweat as necessary to generation and linked to polymorphic birth processes in the garden. In Adam's sweaty body, Milton depicts the first man on the borders of dissolution in order to make sensible the profusion of divine love that Adam experiences in Eden. Ultimately, sweat is a marker of continuity—rather than rupture—between prelapsarian life and the fallen present.

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