While Dorothy W.’s post Reading biographically reminded how little use I have for biographers and their books I do enjoy a nice, short interview that gives me the highlights. Sarah Crown interviews Anna Beer, the latest Milton biographer, and Beer tries to keep the focus as much as she can on Milton’s other writings outside of Paradise Lost, which I liked. I’ve developed a growing curiosity about his political writings and Beer stresses that Milton’s poetry, like his sonnets, are often exceptional. She’d like to do her part to knock down the tower the academy has erected around Milton, a situation that apparently started very soon after his death in the 17th century.
Can you believe that most people skip Boks V & VI in Paradise Lost because they’re about the battle in heaven? But I thought it was awesome! Am I really so strange?
The latest TLS “Commentary” included a review of Milton exhibitions being held at Oxford and Cambridge. Every time I read of another great exhibition being held at either school I sigh and moan about my decision not to apply to either of them (as if I would have gotten in anyway :P) until I chat with friends at various British universities.
Err…I’d love to link to the appropriate TLS article but I have no idea if it’s available online (probably not) because the website is acting up. But! I’ve found better. Oxford has put up podcasts of speeches and readings from the opening night at the Bodleian library! Look! Readings from Paradise Lost! Holy mackerel. There’s an online exhibition too.
Christ College at Cambridge has taken a different approach. The school’s annual Lady Margaret Lectures focuses on Milton this year and it looks as though each one will be made available as a podcast. They’re spread out throughout the year though so one must be patient. Happily, one of my favourite literary critics, Colin Burrow, will deliver his lecture on “Milton’s Singularity” on February 27. Can’t wait! In the meantime Quentin Skinner spoke about John Milton as a Theorist of Liberty. (I’ve since discovered that there’s a problem with the mp3 as the sound only travels to one side of the headphone — a situation I find too annoying to tolerate for a 51 mins lecture. Ugh.)
Various Christ College members have also created “a resource for studying Milton’s Paradise Lost” called Darkness Visible. I have not really poked around but it looks pretty. Instead I poked around the main page and found the actual exhibition websites. Here is Living at this Hour: John Milton 1608-2008 and Milton in the Old Library, which includes a catalogue (PDF) that offers a preview of the exhibition.