Paradise Lost is, as one Salon participant put it, “ …an IMMENSE piece of English Literature. The language is mind boggling, wonderful rhetorical, metaphorical moments…such fabulous imagination…”. The work is a cornerstone of English literature; a natural bridge between Shakespeare and Joyce, Dante and Mary Shelley…but it is some work!
Milton seeks to justify the ways of God to humankind in this work. In revisiting the Fall (both Satan’s and Adam and Eve’s) and giving these ancient stories narrative flesh, we learn the Christian boundaries of Good and Evil.
Clifton Fadiman, in his Lifetime Reading Plan, says:
“It is hard to like John Milton. Suffering the penalty of charmlessness, of humourlessness, he has been less read than admired, less admired than merely accepted…Perhaps I have persuaded you to skip Milton…(but) for all the mustiness of his theology and morality…he remains a great artist in both verse and prose. With rock-like–he would say adamantine–grandeur, he continues to impose himself even on our age, which laughs at grandeur, at the noble style, and at erudition…at least read Paradise Lost for the gorgeous sound, the elaborate imagery, the portrait of Satan, that fallen god with whom Milton himself had so much in common…”
We will move through this work, hearing favorite parts aloud, sharing our knowledge of the Bible and English Renaissance History and love of language to help illuminate the text. There are some wonderful internet resources to help prepare you for our study, in particular the sites that offer audio readings. Some that I have found or Salonistas have recommended:
Paradise Lost Internet Resources
And perhaps the most exhaustive is the Darkness Visible site set up and maintained at Cambridge…very accessible and easy to lose an hour or two!
If you would like to request this study or have any questions about it, please contact us.