Paradise lost

Paradise and paradox: an inner pilgrimage into John Milton

When E. Nesbit published Wet Magic in 1913 (a charming novel in which the children encounter a mermaid), she took it for granted that her young readers would immediately pick up the references to ‘Sabrina Fair’ from Milton’s Comus. Phrases from Milton were part of the language — ‘Tomorrow to fresh woods’; ‘Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven’. Milton was central to the shared experience of life itself for those who spoke English. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries Milton was inside every literate anglophone head. If Harold Bloom is to be believed, which I think he is in this respect, the English romantic movement grew out

A podcast about the literary canon that actually deepens your knowledge (sort of)

While most of life’s pleasures can be shared, reading is lonely. It’s more than possible for six friends to enjoy an exquisite meal, a bottle of wine and then settle down for a four- or five-hour orgy. Food, drink, sex: these things are better shared. But if, as dawn approached, someone cracked open Chaucer’s ‘Parliament of Fowls’ and intimated that it was time to really get down to brass tacks, it could only spoil the mood. Reading is lonely because so much of the reading that matters is hard. The books that change the world and shake the culture are rarely pure pleasure. The heaven sections of Paradise Lost. The