by Paul Lay
This weekend sees the 400th anniverary of Milton's birth. The anniversary will be marked at Christ's College Cambridge by a series of lectures. In a related event, all-day readings of his masterpiece Paradise Lost were read recently by members of the English faculty and recorded in a series of podcasts. They are available on this special website.
As the site notes:
The studio [where recording took place] is a large black cube in the basement of the building. Some books were therefore read with an absolute minimum of visual stimulus, allowing listeners to remember Milton's own blindness and to relate it to the kinds of darkness - moral and visible - which he imagines in the poem.While the hums and blips that emerge on the recordings suggest the soundman's set-up was created in the dark too, by and large the content of the podcasts are of an excellent quality, and well worth delving into for those unfamiliar with the book.
The Lady Margaret lecture series this year was devoted to Milton and featured, among others, Quentin Skinner and Geoffrey Hill. Podcasts of the lectures along with lots of other information about the celebration are available here.