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December 9, 2008 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Milton turns 400 today. The Morgan Library celebrates by exhibiting the last surviving pages of Paradise Lost manuscript. Just you wait for the movie!

More MeFi content on the quadricentennial, even if 10 months too early.
posted by spamguy (23 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Christ's College, Cambridge is celebrating their former student's 400th anniversary, and the Cambridge University Library has an anniversary website running, too, with links to UK exhibitions and lectures.
posted by woodway at 11:22 AM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Don't write this down, but I find Milton probably as boring as you find Milton. Mrs. Milton found him boring too. He's a little bit long-winded, he doesn't translate very well into our generation, and his jokes are terrible."

It may be crass, but whenever I read or hear the name "Milton," I can only picture Donald Sutherland. Anyway, happy big four-oh-oh, Johnny Boy.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:22 AM on December 9, 2008


I expect to make it to 400 too. But without dying.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:36 AM on December 9, 2008


Verstegan's post was really good, and well timed since the celebration has been underway all year long. 400, eh? That's a lot of candles. Good job he's long winded :)
posted by woodway at 11:44 AM on December 9, 2008


It's amazing that "only" 400 years separate us from Milton's birth. On average 20 generations.

Which that means each of us would have some 1,048,576 great17-grandparents in Milton's time, except that given inbreeding, many of those over a million "slots" would really be filled by the same people.

Despite that over overlapping, calculations suggest that going back roughly a thousand years, or fifty generations, your ancestors include everyone, in whatever population you descend from, who has any descendants living today. Every king and every thief, every hero and every charlatan, every prostitute but no truly celibate priest.
posted by orthogonality at 11:49 AM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nice. I was one of those English majors in college who tended to only read 19th and 20th century stuff (plus Shakespeare), so I had some serious trepidations when I signed up for a Milton class my senior year to meet a requirement. It turned out that I loved Paradise Lost so much that I was irritated with myself for not having taken the class years earlier.
posted by scody at 11:51 AM on December 9, 2008


Milton would have been 388 when he got co-writing credit on Nick Cave and the Bad Seed's Song of Joy.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:53 AM on December 9, 2008


From the article about the movie - Heath Ledger is one of their top choices for Lucifer. What might have been...

Or maybe it's already been done?. Or maybe, Satan saw Heath coming and decided to take him out:

While we do not know exactly what was going on with Heath Ledger the day he died we do know that Jimi Hendrix's live in girlfriend, Fayne Prigeon, stated that Hendrix was so tormented by a demonic entity that he believed was possessing his body, that he would stand in front of a mirror pulling out his hair and crying as he begged deliverance from this demon.

Or, maybe Heath is getting to know the devil reeeeeeally well right now?

Wow, I never realised how fun it was to google a celebrity's name with the word 'Satan'! It's amazing what you get!
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 12:14 PM on December 9, 2008


And his deli still makes the best Black and White cookies in San Diego County.
posted by The Gooch at 12:22 PM on December 9, 2008


I can only hope the movie version will be even close to as good as Beowulf. Forget Zemeckis - McG as director, anyone?

Maybe they can do a movie version of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner next.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:15 PM on December 9, 2008


Milton is like the go-to guy for fiction writers when they want to appear impenetrable.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:28 PM on December 9, 2008


Oh wow, the movie adaptation's going places:

Mr. Newman also knows that some might see this project as a fool’s errand. “It’s a 400-some-odd-page poem written in Old English,” he said, laughing. “How do you find the movie in that?” But he speaks of the project with unflagging enthusiasm, though it may seem his passion is more for the idea of the poem than for the poem itself. (It’s in blank verse, not Old English.)
posted by voltairemodern at 1:41 PM on December 9, 2008


Maybe they can do a movie version of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner next.

"The story of one man..."
(cut to Russell Crowe, squinting at the ocean)

"the seagull who killed his wife..."
(cut to seagull in slightly fey business suit, shrouded in shadow behind a large mahogany desk)

"...and a quest for REVENGE."
(cut to people jumping out of the way of a slow-motion explosion, AC/DC's Back in Black)
posted by Greg Nog at 1:43 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Paradise Lost was badass. It turned the Bible from a bunch of legal briefs into an action fantasy movie.

How the hell did people ever get any writing done before computers? Looking at manuscripts like this makes me wince.
posted by scarabic at 2:19 PM on December 9, 2008


400 years, and he's still wondering who took his stapler.
posted by thanotopsis at 2:37 PM on December 9, 2008


The speeches in Paradise Lost are fickin fantastic. Lucifer's "better to reign in hell" speech is fantastic, I was ready to sign up after reading it, and then you find out that its actually not one of the best speeches.

If Milton were alive today he'd be a killer speechwriter.
posted by sotonohito at 2:39 PM on December 9, 2008


Forget the movie, I can't wait to play with Lucifer's 8 inch action figure.
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:36 PM on December 9, 2008


You'd think the devil's action figure would be a little bigger than 8 inches.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:06 PM on December 9, 2008


Boring? Just the opposite! That was one of the most fun books I have ever read. Perhaps it makes a difference that I choose it rather than having it thrust upon me. He is witty, has a fantastic imagination and if you get even a smidgeon of the in jokes this book is biting. After 30 pages or so I knew I was not emerging from the house until this book was finished.
posted by caddis at 5:07 PM on December 9, 2008


(It’s in blank verse, not Old English.)

Kind of a nonsequitor there. That's like saying, "He was wearing a suit, not speaking French."

It's in (early) modern English, not Old English (the language of Beowulf) or one of the many dialects of Middle English (the language of The Canterbury Tales). The metrical form is iambic pentameter, and it is unrhymed, thus blank verse. Language & verse form don't necessarily have anything to do with one another.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:17 PM on December 9, 2008


Has anyone done a computer aging simulation to show what he would have looked like had he survived?
posted by jfrancis at 7:07 PM on December 9, 2008


It is far more accurate to say that Milton was a key founder of the American liberal tradition, than of the British one.
posted by Abiezer at 3:54 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


co-writing credit on Nick Cave and the Bad Seed's Song of Joy.

Not Milton's only appearance in Nick's work. Red Right Hand.

Take cheer, those of you blogging to make an eternal mark on the world, Paradise Lost was self published.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:32 PM on December 10, 2008


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