Conrad Zaar (conrad_zaar) wrote in miltonic,
Conrad Zaar

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Reading Paradise Lost

There's a scene in Die Hard: With a Vengeance in which a police search team lead by Inspector Cobb discovers an enormous and fiendishly elaborate chemical bomb in the basement of an elementary school. Cobb asks explosives expert Charles Weiss "can you defuse it?" and Weiss, looking doubtfully at the device, replies, "I shouldn't even touch it."

This is the way I have felt about Paradise Lost for some time now. I read a few passages in my first-year introductory English course, but I don't recall that we had much time for proper discussion. I did take a course in 17th-century British literature, but in the Milton section my professor steered clear of Paradise Lost in favour of Samson Agonistes and a handful of essays. (She explained that unless she has time to teach the epic in its entirety then she doesn't teach it at all. I've heard she's reworking the course now so that she can spend one entire semester on Milton, because she feels that's the only way she'll have enough time to handle Paradise Lost properly.) Since then, I have been so acutely aware of Milton's vast erudition, of the poem's towering canonical status, and of the oceans of ink that literary scholars have spilled in discussing it, that I have kept putting it off in favour of less intimidating books.

But enough is enough. I am now in the final semester of my degree, with a light course load, and I've got no excuses. I often write in my Livejournal about what I'm currently reading, and I thought it would be fun to make post regular "update" entries on various passages, allusions, and ideas that I find noteworthy as I work through Paradise Lost. Then it occurred to me that I might as well post them here too. I'm no Miltonist, so the entries may reflect a rather eccentric sensibility, but I think a series of fairly focused entries might be just what we need to foster discussion and help keep this community alive.

What do y'all say?
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