THE SECRET BOOK OF THE BOGOMILS AND PARADISE LOST: TOWARD A DEFINITION OF A SPIRITUAL KINSHIP 

 presented at SPACES, GAPS, BORDERS, 8th Conference of the Bulgarian Society for British Studies, Sofia University, Sofia, Bulgaria, 24-26 October 2003
                             
    The peculiar imagery of the two great poems of John Milton - Paradise Lost and  Paradise Regained, a product of his particular theology, remains even today a fascinating enigma for Milton scholars. Arthur Lovejoy, Maurice Kelley, Christopher Hill, Barbara Lewalski, and others Milton experts have dedicated considerable attention to the problem. Without a detailed review of the abundant stream of publications on this issue, this study pays attention to some radical definitions like the one purposed by Emil Legouis, who called Milton the great heretic.1 It is appropriate to recall the provocative note (or better, the exclamation) by William Blake in his The Marriage of Heaven and Hell at the very end of 18th century: The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils&Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devils party without knowing it.2
    There are two recent more important undertakings expressing the proheretic view. The first one is the book by Anthony Nuttall The Alternative Trinity: Gnostic Heresy in Marlowe, Milton, and Blake, published in 1998, in which he finds that in his theological treatise De doctrina Christiana Milton is presenting himself as an Arian heretic3 The second undertaking is of Stephen Dobranski and John Rumrich. They edited the collection of essays Milton and Heresy, published the same year, 1998. One of the contributors, Stephen Fallon employs the terms Arminian and Calvinist regarding Milton when discussing the problem of his theology 4. 
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1 Legouis, E. A History of English Literature. 1The Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Modern Times by L. Cazamian. Revised edition. London. 1957, p. 585.
2Blake, W. The Complete Writings of William Blake. London-New York.1957, p.150
3Nuttall, A. The Alternative Trinity: Gnostic Heresy in Marlowe, Milton, and Blake. Oxford, 1998, p.71
4Milton and Heresy. Cambridge-New York. 1998, p.94

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    This study abandons the sphere of the poetical conjectures, the vague associations, and the broad statements. They are useful steps in the process of thinking on the condition so they are tools to interpret the available data. Thus our task is to discover and compile such facts, documents, and proved historical connections. Based on the accumulated data, we are able to articulate the thesis that the mysterious philosophy of the poet is in fact dualism. We can accept to be moved by the intuition in the case when it is leading our efforts to evidences and records. Marco Mincoff, for instance, discerned a peculiar concern in Miltons early poem Lycidas - he had been disturbed by the way in which God cuts off the deserving and allowed the vicious to flourish4. In fact it is in this work that one can first discern feelings of the poet similar to the Bogomil-Cathar objections to the arrangements on the earthly world. According to them, this world was an inferno, fire and ice, and evil of every kind3 as it was created by Satan, an unjust and cruel world. Marco Mincoff took yet another step in the correct direction by establishing a relation between the opening of Paradise Lost and the Old English Genesis. Thus Mincoff assumed the possibility of Miltons being acquainted with the Cadmonic poem, a Latin translation of which had been published by Junius in 16552. 

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1Milton and Heresy. Cambridge-New York, 1998, p.94 
2Mincoff, M. A History of English Literature. Part I. From the Beginning to 1700. Sofia, 1970, p. 522.
3in hoc mundum inferno esse, i.e. hic esse ignim et frigum et omne malum in Döllinger, Ign., op. cit. ( Das Buch Supra Stella von Stella von Salvus Burche zu Piacenza aus dem J.1235 (Florenz) über Cathars, Abanenses et Concorricii) in : Doellinger, Ign. v. Dokumente vornehmlich zur Geschichte der Valdesier und Katharer herausgegeben. T.2. München,1890, p. 58.
4Mincoff, M. Op. cit., pp. 528-529.

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    Hesitant as our British colleagues might be when they date this poem and speculate as regards its origin, there is a fundamental historical situation that can neither be overlooked nor rewritten. That is that Bogomils and Cathars introduced the dualistic plot of the fall of Satan who rebelled against God to medieval Europe. Milton himself confirmed his penchant for dualistic imagery for to the already-mentioned theme, present on the very first page of Paradise Lost, he added Satans interest in Gods second creation according to an ancient Prophesie or report in Heaven1. And the so-called second creation was one of the main features of Bogomil myth. To add more clarity to our observations we shall compare directly fundamental dualistic texts and passages from Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. The first table that follows reveals an unquestionable coincidence between the episode with Satans fall from heaven on the first page of Paradise Lost and that in The Secret Book of Bogomils. Further on, other dualistic these will join this one.

VISIBLE DUALISTIC THEMES IN JOHN MILTONS PARADISE LOST
Motif one: Satans revolt against God and his fall from heaven 
Paradise Lost, Book I, The Argument
The Serpent, or rather Satan in Serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many Legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of heaven with all his crew into the great Deep.
 

Paradise Lost, Book I; verses 34-49:
what time his Pride/Had cast him out from Heavn, with all his Host/ Of Rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring/To set himself in Glory above his Peers,/He trusted to have equald the most High,/If he opposd; and with ambitious aim/Against the Throne and Monarchy of God? Raisd impiousWarr in Heavn and Battel proud/With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power/ Hurld headlong flaming from th Ethereal Skie/ With hideous ruin and combustion down/To bottomless perdition 
The Secret Book of Bogomils or Interrogatio Joannis: 
(Carcassone Text)
...et traxit cum cauda tertiam partem angelorum Dei, et projectus est de sede Dei et de vilicatione coelorum. Et descendens Sathanas in firmamentum hoc, nullam requem potuit facere sibi nec iis qui cum eo errant.The Secret Book of Bogomils or Interrogatio Joannis: (Carcassone Text)
...et traxit cum cauda tertiam partem angelorum Dei, et projectus est de sede Dei et de vilicatione coelorum. Et descendens Sathanas in firmamentum hoc, nullam requem potuit facere sibi nec iis qui cum eo errant.(, . . . 1925, .76)

and with his tail he dragged away one-third of the angels of God, and he was banished from the throne of God and from the overlordship of the heavens. And Satan, descending to this firmament, was unable to find rest either for himself or for those who were with him. (Translation Tom Butler. Monumenta bulgarica. Michigan Slavic Publications. 1996, p.193)
 

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1The quotations are after The Poetical Works of John Milton. London, Oxford University Press, NY, Toronto. 1958.
 

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And yet another occasion on which the same myth is mentioned: Book VII, verses 130-133: 

        Know then, that after Lucifer from Heav'n
        (So call him, brighter once amidst the Host
        Of Angels, then that Starr the Starrs among)
        Fell with his flaming Legions through the Deep
        

The same obvious coincidence can be seen in the second table comparing the scene of the final victory over Satan from The Secret Book in which he was chained in indestructible chains (insolubilus vinculus fortibus) and thrown in a lake of fire (in lacum ignis), and, respectively, Satans being hurled to dwell in adamantine chains and penal fire in Book I of Paradise Lost.


Motif two: the chaining of Satan in hells lake of fire:

Paradise Lost, Book I, verses 47-49
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire,

Who durst defie th' Omnipotent to Arms.

The Secret Book of Bogomils or Interrogatio Joannis: (Carcassone Text)
Et tunc ligabitur Sathans et omnis militia eius, et mittetur in lacum ignis. Et deambulabit Filius Dei cum electis suis de super firmamentum, et claudet Diabolum ligans eum insolubilibus vinculis fortibus.

And then Satan and all his army shall be chained and thrown in a lake of fire. And the Son and His elect shall walk on the firmament and shall imprison the Devil, locking him in chains indestructible and strong. 
 


 
    The third table a Bogomil myth retold by Milton, the one according to which after the creation of man part of mankind would return to the heavens to fill in the place of the fallen angels. We recalled that the second creation formula (after the Lords) of this visible Creation of Satan is a familiar characteristic of dualism. For doesnt The Secret Book say that man was created by Satan and similar information about the said

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     Bogomil belief was provided by Euthymius Zigabenus (12th century) 1. In our case, however, Milton chose an interpretation that was a step back from classical dualism. Miltons view of a second creation ran in harmony not with the traditional variant of The Secret Book (end 11th- early 12th century), according to which Adam and Eve were created by Satan, but rather with the 13th century apocryphal oratione of St. John Chrysostom on how Michael the archangel defeated Satan2. Here we come to an important peculiarity of the Bulgarian Bogomil church, which constantly enhanced the role of the Father and the Son in its development. Thus, in the case of the above apocrypha, the subsequent consequence was a blending of the orthodox Christian idea of God as a creator of all creatures and all worlds. That is why the teaching of this church is called mitigated dualism unlike the absolute dualism of the Paulicians preserving the equal positions of God and Satan. At the end of this study we shall return to this Bulgarian element for it conditioned the poets own outlook as regards the dualistic heritage. Thus we now come to
Motif three: after the creation of the human race part of it will return to the heavens to fill in the place of the fallen angels. 

Paradise Lost, Book 1. The Argument
To these Satan directs his Speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining Heaven, but tells them lastly of a new World and new kind of Creature to be created, according to an ancient Prophesie or report in Heaven; for that Angels were long before this visible Creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers.

2

: , , ; , ,

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1Euthymii Zigabeni de haeresi bogomilorum narratio. In: Ficker, G. Die Phundagiagiten. Leipzig.1908, p. 98: λεγουσι τους αποπεσοντας αγγελους, ακουσαντες, οτι ο Σαμαηλ υπεσχετο τοι Πατρι πλερουσθαι τους εν ουρανω τοπους αυτων απο του γενους των ανθρωπων, ιδειν ασελγως τασ θυγατερας των ανθρωπων και λαβειν αυτας εις γυναικας, ινα τα σπερματα αυτων εις τον ουρανον ανελθωσιν εν τοις τοποις των πατερων αυτων.

2 . In: XIII . . 1987, pp. 156. A publication of this text under the title , , , was previously made by Donka Petkanova in , . .1. . .1982, pp. 41-48.

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Paradise Lost,  Book VII, verses 150-160

 Already done, to have dispeopl'd Heav'n
My damage fondly deem'd, I can repaire
That detriment, if such it be to lose
Self-lost, and in a moment will create
Another World, out of one man a Race
Of men innumerable, there to dwell,
Not here, till by degrees of merit rais'd
They open to themselves at length the way
Up hither, under long obedience tri'd,
And Earth be chang'd to Heav'n, & Heav'n to Earth,  

One Kingdom, Joy and Union without end.
 

 


. , , ; . , . ( XIII ,  . 151)

(Oratione of St. John Chrysostom: And God said unto them: Did you, my angels, see how evil Satan fled and lured away many angels; I created them with the Holy Spirit and saw them as my celestial army but he seduced them and took them to the darkness outside. I shall create them again and men shall be elected to do My will, be they apostles, prophets or martyrs, and they shall be like angels to Me. And my army of angels shall exceed a hundredfold the angels who fell from heaven.)

 

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    At the same time, the poets preference for some elements of Bogomil theology does not preclude obvious cases of lexical similarity between Milton and traditional dualistic theology. Thus, although the poet returned to the orthodox idea of God as the author of all things created, we can see how the expression this visible Creation (Paradise Lost, Book I. Contents) repeats for a moment the fundamental Bogomil-Cathar thesis that all other things visible were created by the devil who fell from the heavens1. It is interesting to note, as it has been quoted in the right column of the table, that Dante also paid attention to this dualistic myth in his Il Convivio2. The reader should bear in mind that exactly because they passed from theological canon to literature Bogomil-Cathar writings developed many nuances, which could be in doctrinal contradiction but remain united by the impressive beauty of their imagery, the poetics of wisdom, compassion and moral endeavour.
    Thus Milton too freely borrowed ideas and concepts not from one, say The Secret Book, but from different dualistic apocrypha. Although he endowed Satan with the modern skill of building machines, the next episode actually reproduces the battle of Michael with Satan in the already mentioned oratione of St. John Chrysostom (and possibly from The Tiberiad Sea, which contains the same motif), with Michael coming out victorious with Gods intervention. Milton created his own variant of the counterattack against the devil as a triumphant march of the Messiah, i.e. Christ.

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1et omnia alia visibilia a diabolo, qui cecidit de coelo, erant creata et facta in: Processus contra Valdenses, Pauperes de Lugduno, aliosque haereticos, Fraticellos, etc. In: : Döllinger, Ign. v. Dokumente vornehmlich zur Geschichte der Valdesier und Katharer herausgegeben. t. II. München. 1890, p. 266.
2 Dante, Il Convivo. Trat. II, cap. VI. In: Dantis Alagherii Opera Omnia II. Leipzig. 1921, pp.113-114: Dico che di tutti questi ordini si perdereno alquanti tosto che furono create forse in numero della decima parte, alla quale restaurare fu lumana natura poi creata.
 

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Motif four: Michael, sent forth by God, defeats the Devil in a dramatic battle:

Paradise Lost, Book VI. The Argument
Raphael continues to relate how Michael and Gabriel were sent forth to battel against Satan and his Angels. The first Fight describ'd: Satan and his Powers retire under Night: He calls a Councel, invents devilish Engines, which in the second dayes Fight put Michael and his Angels to some disorder; But, they at length pulling up Mountains overwhelm'd both the force and Machins of Satan: Yet the Tumult not so ending, God on the third day sends Messiah his Son, for whom he had reserv'd the glory of that Victory: Hee in the Power of his Father coming to the place, and causing all his Legions to stand still on either side, with his Chariot and Thunder driving into the midst of his Enemies, pursues them unable to resist towards the wall of Heaven; which opening, they leap down with horrour and confusion into the place of punishment prepar'd for them in the Deep: Messiah returns with triumph to his Father. 

,   .151
, ( , ...) : , , , , , , , . , , . (Apocryphal oratione of St. John Chrysostom. After Gabriel fails to sum up courage to fight with Satan God forgave Gabriel and again said unto Michael: You were first in the kingdom of my Son, who proceedeth from me, and it is thine today to go down to that vile antichrist and take from him the heavenly mantle, the crown and the sceptre of angelic orders, which he stole from Me. And divest him of his beauty and glory so that his servants see who the Father is.)

, .32  
. , : ,

 

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, .  ...

... , . . 13

 (The Tiberiad Sea: And God sent Michael to Satan. And Michael went but was scorched by Satan and returned to God and said I did what You sent me to do but the fire of Satan fell unto me. And Michael came and struck Satan with the sceptre and threw him down with all his army. And they fell three days and three nights like drops of rain.)

    In this review of literature bearing the ideas of Paradise Lost one should pay additional attention to The Tiberiad Sea, which contains scenes identical to those of Satans defeat by God in the oratione of St. John Chrysostom.

    17th century Waldensian translocations
    Now where could Miltons association with apocrypha come from? The Puritans, the main ideological trend in the English bourgeois revolution, are known to have sympathized with the Waldenses, the last surviving continental heresy. The 17th century saw the translocation of Waldensian literature from the valleys of Piedmont to England. One of the earliest comments on the significance of that translocation was made by the 19th century prominent Russian scholar of the Cathar movement Nikolai Osokin: When the persecution of Waldenses was renewed in the 17th century and they felt threatened by extermination the most important manuscripts were transported to England and Cromwell who was then considered to be the head and protector of Protestantism, or capo et protettore to quote Venetian relations. They have been kept at the library of Cambridge since 1658. These are numerous pieces of theological, edifying, historical, ritualistic or purely poetic character (the italics mine G. V.) 1 The same author ha added the important for us information that the said literature was included in the following publications: Jean Paul Perrin, Histoire des
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1 , . . 2000, p.183. First edition in 1869, .
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Vaudois and Histoire des Chrestiens albigeois (Geneva, 1618) and J. Léger, Histoire des Eglises Evangéliques des vallées de Piémont (Leiden, 1669). According to Osokin, Jean Perrin made no difference between Cathars and Waldenses1, which indicates that Waldensian and Cathar literature already constituted a mixed fund.
    Anne Brenon, a contemporary scholar of the Cathar movement of note, has made several publications confirming this information since the 1970s. She quoted the evidence of Jean Léger, a pastor in the valley of Lucerne and moderator of the Piedmont valley churches, that he personally gave six manuscripts into the hands of Mr. Morland, special commissioner of milord Oliver Cromwell, Protector of Great Britain 2. In turn, Samuel Morland presented the manuscripts to the university in Cambridge and published in London the History of Evangelical Churches in Piedmont in 1658. 
Another group of texts in 12 volumes, collected by the erudite Archbishop of Armagh, James Ussher (1581-1656), arrived in a similar albeit slightly more roundabout way in Dublin and finally Trinity College. It is assumed that he bought all or at least eight of them from a French jurisconsult, Perrin being the initial starting point. After Usshers death his library, including the above-mentioned collection, was added to that of Trinity College. 
According to Anne Brenon, Waldensian manuscript collections usually contain biblical texts and liturgical sermons, moral and theological treatises3. She has provided a rather more comprehensive description of the manuscripts in Dublin in another paper, published in 1973, in which she pointed out that MS Du10, which probably dates from dates from the end of the 14th century, is not Waldensian but Cathar and contains only two treatises 4. In fact, she leads us on to the important discovery of the
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1 Ibid., p. 815.
2 Brenon, A. Localisation des manuscripts vaudois. Centro studi piemontesi. Torino. 1978, p.196.
3Jolliot, A. Les communautés vaudoises des Hautes Vallées alpines aux XVe et XVIe siècles. Fédération historique du Languédoc méditerranéen et du Roussillon. XLIVe Congrès (Privas, 22-23 mai 1971). Université Paul Valéry Montpellier. 1972, p.189.
4 Jolliot, A. Les livres des Vaudois. Catalogue.Ecole pratiques des hautes études. Ve section sciences religieuses. Annuiare. Tomes LXXX-LXXXI. Extraits du fascicule II, p. 71.
 

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of the Belgian philologist Théo Venckeleer of 1960-19611, who made a detailed study of the manuscript previously known as A.6.10 and today as MS 269, which has conditionally been accepted to have been copied from an unknown original around 1375-1376. According to Théo Venckeleer, the said manuscript A.6.10. in the Dublin collection of Waldensian manuscripts was a Cathar document2 of French Provençal origin, the first part presenting the basic tenets of the Cathar church and the second a gloss of the principal Cathar prayer Pater noster. 
    In addition to the evidence of the Cathar character of the manuscript quoted here it turned out that this was not an isolated phenomenon. Théo Venckeleer accorded it a key position in Cathar literature, considering it the third authentic Cathar manuscript after Le rituel provençal (published by Cunitz for the first time in 1852 and again by L. Clédat in 1887) and the Liber de Duobus Principiis, published by R. P. A. Dondaine in 1939. The unquestionable Cathar spirit is also confirmed by the fact that, according to Venckeleer, chapters I and II of the Dublin manuscript almost coincide textually with Le rituel provençal (ff. 237ra_vb, resp. 329ra-vb)3.
    The documents we have quoted allow the conclusion that the 17th century witnessed repeated heretical transfers containing Cathar texts to England. How this fine example of heretical syncretism 4, to use the apt definition of Anne Brenon, actually occurred is a question answered even by Nikolai Osokin. He noted that after the Cathars were subdued in the beginning of the 13th 
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1 Venckeleer, T. Un recueil cathare: le manuscript A.6.10 de Dublin. Une apologie. In: Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire. t.38. 1960, pp. 815-834; Une Glose sur le Pater. In: Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire. t. 39. 1961, pp. 759-762. 
2 Venckeleer, T. Un recueil cathare: le manuscript A.6.10 de Dublin. Une apologie. In: Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire. t. 38. 1960, p. 816.
3Une Glose sur le Pater, p.833
4 Brenon, A. Les archipels cathares. Dissidence chrétienne dans lEurope médievale. Cahors. 2000, p. 109.

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century the Waldenses were joined by all sects of purely evangelical teaching1. According to Anne Brenon herself, regardless of the controversies between Cathars and Waldenses, the Cathar euchologion was adopted in the said set of Waldensian literature for the treatise on the church of God it contains has a purely evangelical intonation, one that was shared by those pre-Reformation movements. The scholar of the first third of the 20th century Leo Seifert wrote about the conviction of later heretics (meaning the Hussites and the Bohemian Brethren) that Wycliffe originated from the Waldenses, under which name they understood the whole group of sects based on dualism2.

    Conclusion
    In Miltons poetry Dualism acquires the significance of a flight in the heavens. It turns out that the grandest trips in different worlds, mans most encompassing view of the Universe and human elevation to a general view of Gods deeds were achieved through poetics borrowed from dualism. Because Dantes Divina Commedia relied on it in its construction of the worlds and Miltons epic, dedicated to the universal struggle between good and evil, is full of its imagery and theogony. This super-scope was also noticed by J. Goodridge who wrote that Dantes Divina Commedia, Miltons Paradise Lost and William Langlands Piers Plowman worked with the widest of all themes "the meaning of mans life on earth in relation to his ultimate destiny. Like Milton, Langland seeks to justify the ways of God to men.3 By the way, Piers Plowman acquired this scope once again from dualistic poetics, for this poem also has the aspect of a Bogomil-Cathar treatise.
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1 , .. Op. cit., p. 183.
2 , . ( ). . 1994, 

. 50?. Original title : Seifert, J.L. Die Welterevolutionäre. Von Bogomil über Hus zu Lenine. Wien,. 1931
3 Goodridge, J. Introduction to Langland, W. Piers the Plougman. London, 1959/1977, p.11.
 

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    What are the similarities and the differences between the poetics of Dante and that of Milton? Above all, Dante was not a dualist. He was carried away by a struggle with the church on principle. With his treatise De Monarchia he wanted the church to be subordinate to the state (for which he was excommunicated in 1329 and the ban was lifted as late as the 19th century), he was familiar with dualistic apocrypha like Visio Paoli, from which he borrowed the idea of the descent into the underworld and the trip there. Milton embraced The Secret Book of Bogomils and other fundamental apocrypha of theirs. An embrace of dual meaning in the sense that on the one hand he borrowed the universal scope and on the other he shared the finalist views of the Bulgarian dualists that were harbingers of defeat for the devil and his demons. Naturally, in Paradise Lost the poet updated their views with the culture and the humanistic leanings of the 17th century. Spatially speaking, Dante took the drama of the underworld, i.e. the antechamber of catharsis and redemption, for it is in the Inferno that he is most powerful. Milton took the entire universe in order to give Christ the final victory in Paradise Regained. A victory of the Son that man is destined to repeat. In other words, the English poet nevertheless succeeded in compiling a positive epic of Christian humanism. The works of Dante and Milton seem to persuade us that the picture of the 
universe in literature can be achieved most successfully through a dualistic prism.

    And now a modern aspect. In the great work of Paradise Lost Bogomil philosophy and imagery have found a happier reproduction than in Bulgarian literature itself. This is the most convincing possible example of cultural interaction or interculturalité, to use the French term. Besides such a statement, however, there are things that remain unsaid. What does this mean that ideas have some law of their own of materialising regardless of the place of their genesis? Or vice versa that their more comprehensive materialisation elsewhere predicts a new, more impressive one on their own cultural and historical soil? The recently disclosed past is questioning the future. It is impossible to limit or interrupt the continuity in culture. Now it is so evident like that is Gods 11th commandment. In any case, with the material development of mankind that should leave us free for more spiritual occupations we are embarking upon times of interaction, when the spiritual wealth of the world is revealed not only as accessible to all, but also as a result of processes of shared creation and as a prospect to renew the most sublime meanings, the still resourceful aspects of the same processes.
 

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