I picked up a short biography of Milton because as I mentioned the other day, as I began Paradise Lost, I was so struck by how opposite Milton’s writing was to Shakespeare’s. I listened to a biography of Shakespeare last year (Will in the World), and I want to know a little more about Milton’s life and times.
John Milton: A Biography by Neil Forsyth is really good so far. In the introduction, he explains that his task was
“to write a biography of Milton that would excite readers who might be merely curious, and who would like to know why Milton is so widely loved and admired, and even, sometimes detested.”
That’s exactly my purpose in picking it up. It’s about 240 pages, which is a great length, so I won’t have any trouble reading it this month along with my Milton reads. From the introduction, I already have an interesting perspective on Milton’s treatment of women, and since I remember rolling my eyes on my first read of Paradise Lost, I imagine this reread will be similar. More on that issue another time, as I read more of the biography.
As I read Forsyth’s commentary on some of Milton’s collegiate poems, I thought I’d consult my Milton’s Complete Poetry and Major Prose (edited by Hughes) and read some of it too. (more…)
This first week of May is Persephone Reading Week, which means bloggers around the blogosphere are reading books by the British publisher Persephone. I do not typically search out books based on publisher. Yet, Claire and Verity have such an (I think it’s fair to say) obsession with this publisher that it certainly caught my attention. Persephone Books republishes less well-known classics and brings them back in to print. From the descriptions I’ve read, it seems many are written by women about women, and I love the emphasis on women finding themselves, especially given the era (1920s to 1950s) in which these classics were written.
All that to say: I decided to give a Persephone book a try this week, and I’m glad I did! Although it wasn’t a favorite book, Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson was certainly entertaining. It’s been summarized as a Cinderella story, but I thought it was more comedy than romance. It’s better than any fairy tale. Miss Guinevere Pettigrew is a middle-aged, inadequate governess that can’t keep a job. When she appears at Miss LaFosse’s door one morning, she is determined to be persistent in getting a job. (more…)
April was an unusual reading month because I spent the first two weeks reading very long, intense books. Once I finished those, I read some shorter works. It was a good reading month in retrospect, and I suspect I need to get in the habit of reading longer books more often! Crime and Punishment, in particular, was quite satisfying.
My May focus is on Milton, as is evidenced by yesterday’s post. I am enjoying Paradise Lost and I want to read and discuss some of his other works as well. In a sense, Milton in general is my project for the month. If I feel so inclined, I also, for my “project book,” may revisit a nonfiction book I read a decade ago that I loved. Jerusalem: The Eternal City by David Galbraith is a book about Jerusalem history and religious context. I read it in the months before my two months living there, and since this month marks the ten-year anniversary of my time there, I thought it might be appropriate to revisit it now.
Welcome to Milton in May!
I hope you are as excited about this month’s reading project as I am.
I, personally, will be reading Paradise Lost, at a rate of about three books a week. In addition, I hope to revisit some other poems, I may read some essays, and I might read a biography of the man himself. When I was in college, I studied Milton for a semester. I read criticism. I discussed his works in depth. I am no longer in school, and my intentions this month as I revisit Milton are not college-level: I plan on reading and exploring some of his works, including Paradise Lost, for the pure pleasure of it!
You are welcome to join in by reading and/or writing about anything Miltonian this month. Each week, I’ll have a linky on this site, and you can link to any posts you write about Milton. I will also post some general discussion questions about the three books from Paradise Lost for the week. I hope this month can be an open discussion and a celebration of one of the world’s great writers. You can make your own participation be at whatever level you’d prefer, whether that is academic or not. You can write “review” posts or you can write discussion posts. If you don’t want to write your own blog posts at all, feel free to comment on your reading in the comments on this site.
After the jump, see discussion questions and then my own first impressions of this reread.
I took a creative writing class in tenth grade. While I can’t say any of my output was remarkable, the best aspects of the class were the samples my teacher gave us of good quality stories and poetry. I hadn’t yet learned to appreciate poetry (it took two more years before that happened), yet I have always remembered one poem we read in class. I decided to go and find it.
The collected volume of Nikki Giovanni’s poetry was more than I anticipated reading. The volume has more than 350 pages of poetry and extensive endnotes (another 100 pages). As I mentioned the other day, I read poetry for feeling, sound, and enjoyment factor. As it was, I only skimmed about half of the poems and I ignored the notes. I would read a poem in full if something about it caught my attention. (more…)