The recomposition of Paradise Lost across American Pastoral is not a mechanical rehearsal or reauthorisation (to invoke a Miltonic idea, Roth will be no ‘heretic in the truth’), but a testing and even a correction against the authority of new and different histories. 4 Moreover, the nature of American Pastoral ’s intertextuality itself depends upon thematic concerns subtending both narratives. ‘Authority’, ‘obedience’, ‘test’ and ‘fall’ are the common keywords governing both the form and the content of the textual negotiation between Roth
and Milton, and the dramatic negotiations among the Levovs. I will argue that this complex dynamic demands an account of intertextuality that goes beyond familiar tropes of capital investment or filial competition.