UNL honors poet John Milton with marathon reading of 'Paradise Lost'

Released on 11/25/2008, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008

WHERE: Bailey Library, 228 Andrews Hall, 14th & T Streets

Lincoln, Neb., November 25th, 2008 —

The Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the birth of John Milton with a marathon reading of his epic, "Paradise Lost," beginning at 8 a.m. Dec. 9. The reading will continue throughout the day in the Dudley Bailey Library, 228 Andrews Hall, 14th and T streets.

"Paradise Lost" was originally published in 1667 and over the centuries has inspired responses from poets, novelists, visual artists, composers and filmmakers. Due to the blindness he developed late in life, Milton composed and revised the epic poem through dictation. Paying tribute both to Milton's 400th birthday and to his greatest poem's origin in the spoken word, volunteer participants will read all of "Paradise Lost" aloud.

An hour's reading time will be reserved for each of the 12 books of the poem. The only exception will be the 2 p.m. hour, when two books will be read, temporarily turning the marathon into a sprint. Copies of "Paradise Lost" will be available for participants to use, and all are welcome to listen and read. Between books, there will be musical interludes -- including live performances -- and refreshments.

Milton was born in London Dec. 9, 1608. Educated at Cambridge University, he set aside poetry for many years and concentrated on prose pamphlets voicing support for Parliament during the English Civil Wars of the 1640s. He served Oliver Cromwell's government during the Protectorate and was imprisoned for several months when monarchy returned to England in 1660. After his release, he withdrew from public life and published three masterworks: "Paradise Lost," "Paradise Regained," and "Samson Agonistes."

The John Milton 400th Birthday Celebration is sponsored by the UNL Department of English, the Theta Omega Chapter of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honorary Society, and the UNL Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program.

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