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Location: Austin, TX, United States

Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tuesday Jottings; or, Milton's Porridge

Back home meant back to work on upgrading and adding to my literature site, Luminarium.  I decided to take a break from the sheer monotony of finding and fixing broken-down links, and to finally write a biographical monograph for Milton; something I'd been putting off successfully these past ten years.

Usually, writing a biography takes a day or two, from the gathering of facts to the polishing touches.  Not so with Milton.  First off, Milton lived to be 66 years of age, which is a respectable age in the Renaissance.  Secondly, the man was a force of nature — he crammed so much into those years, between his studies, his travels on the Continent, his three marriages, his work for the Protectorate government, and not least, his unbelievably voluminous literary output.  To do Milton's life justice, one should really write a book, instead of attempting to encapsulate it in a matter of a few pages; and yet, that is exactly what I have to do.

I finally have a first draft, which in itself is something of which to be proud, but oh, it reads dryly, sure to put off any but the most ardent seekers of knowledge.  Now my task is to make it flow, and make it more human, without lapsing into conjecture about the daily activities of the man, à la "What porridge hath John Keats?"
Such forays make for compelling reading, take for instance Stephen Greenblatt's Shakesbiography Will in the World — a marvellous book, to be sure, but full of "maybes" and "perhapses."
Now I know better than ever why I have put this off for so long.  "Grant me the serenity", is all I can say.

Yours Beleaguered,

Tags: Literature


Blogger Istanbultaye said...

sounds like you've got quite a task there. so... get to work! ~.^ j/k, make sure you take some time for relaxing and playin w the puppies.

June 20, 2006 2:22 PM  
Blogger Mark A. said...

I gotta get you a scan of the printing I bought in Oxford.

Milton's a tough egg to crack. He's far more difficult to sex-up than Shakespeare. I mean, Shakespeare's all about confused genders and sexual trysts, and here you have Milton attempting to justify the ways of God to man.

I'd always liked Paradise Lost, but I truly got Milton after several readings of Lycidas. That poem captures all at once his continual strive for literary fame, his disgust at corrupt church officials, the need for freedom of speech, and his love for classical, meaning Greek, literature.

Oh, and if you're dealing with PL don't forget to focus on the angel-sex. That's always an attention getter.

June 21, 2006 12:28 AM  
Blogger Anniina said...

Thanks Ist :)

Mark, thanks! You had me roaring with the "angel-sex" line. You also make a hell of an argument for Lycidas - kudos.

I do love Milton, but like you said, he's a tough nut. I went through a period at UCLA when I thought I'd concentrate on Milton or Chaucer (I had amazing classes with V.A. Kolve) but in the end it was the Metaphysical boys who stole my heart.

I would love a copy of the print if you get it scanned :) Thanks for thinking of it!


June 21, 2006 1:53 PM  

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