December 23rd, 2008

breaking bad

His Dark Materials

I turned on Radio 3 in the car yesterday and Anton Lesser was reading Paradise Lost. It was brilliant. I've never been able to get into Paradise Lost. But it was much easier to follow read out than on the page. I like Anton Lesser. His delivery isn't big and sonorous, but mild and gentle. The whole thing just flows in a lovely accessible style. Anyway, I was worrying that I wouldn't be able to catch the other episodes, but I found it's available from audible, so I just downloaded it as one of my monthly freebies - 11 hours in all.

The main thing I know about Milton is what Blake wrote.

The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet, and of the Devil's party without knowing it.

I thought this might be some subtle tendency, which Blake was clever enough to detect, but in fact it's completely blatant. Satan comes across as an heroic character, with brilliant speeches. As Raymond Chandler said in another context, it's enough to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window.
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