Paradise Lost is the first epic of English literature written in the classical style. John Milton saw himself as the intellectual heir of Homer, Virgil, and Dante, and sought to create a work of art which fully represented the most basic tenets of the Protestant faith. His work, which was dictated from memory and transcribed by his daughter, remains as one of the most powerful English poems. (Summary by Caeristhiona)
This is a recording of the text of Milton's first edition of 1667, which had ten books, unlike the second edition (1674) which was redivided into twelve books in the manner of Virgil's Aeneid. See Wikipedia entry here.
Readers include: Owen J.A. Carter Kirsten Ferreri Cori Samuel Greg Bryant Catharine Eastman Clayton J. Smith Rosalind Wills Eric Ray Onjana Yawnghwe heyfd Kurt Wong
For further information, including links to M4B audio book, online text, reader information, RSS feeds, CD cover or other formats (if available), please go to the LibriVox catalog page for this recording.
February 16, 2014 Subject:
Read a bit like prose
I am not at all good at reading poetry aloud; therefore I know the difficulty. PL is particularly difficult. However, the beauty of PL is actually in the poetry, and since it is blank verse in iambic pentameter, that is how it must be read. One cannot put "the" in where it does not go; one must not add syllables to the line by making "ed" into a syllable where it does not belong.
There are few if any feminine endings in PL I believe, so unlike Shakespeare there may not be an 11th syllable (assuming words such as power are one syllable.) The meter and pronunciation here are sometimes incorrect. Milton pronounced ignominy as ignomy I would think, for example. Eliding such a word is not possible. In other situations where elision is possible or even written, the syllables are sometimes pronounced in this reading. The reading therefore is very prose like, unfortunately.
The enjambment is extremely difficult to read, and credit is due most of the time for not pausing in inappropriate places, or emphasizing the wrong syllable. Milton is very complex, and making objects, direct or indirect, sound like subjects is easy to do, particularly when the subject is understood, not written. This so far in my reading is done well.
Two other comments not so serious as the loss of the poetry. One is the slowness of the reading which can be sped up with certain audio players if downloaded and listened to on a computer. This is for the reader who has read PL many times, possibly. The other is the distracting voice of Satan. To saddle Satan with such a growl is superfluous and distracting, and gives Satan a particular "character" or quality which Milton may not have intended. Iago, for example, would not be read this way. Satan should be read as though he were Hamlet, since Satan's lines are the highlight of the poetry.
Since the poem is so difficult, I cannot justify a rating lower than 4; I think it needs to be re-recorded however.