ebookclassics

Today I Learned – John Milton Edition

Today I Learned (TIL) is my play on Reddit’s highly entertaining and informative forum.

I’m still slowly making my way through John Milton’s Paradise Lost and another thing that amazes me about this epic poem is how much influence it has had on writers, poets, artists, filmmakers and musicians over the centuries. I started looking at where Paradise Lost and pop culture intersect, and here are a few tidbits that caught my attention:

MOVIES

The Devil’s Advocate


In the 1987 movie, The Devil’s Advocate, the devilish character played by Al Pacino was named John Milton.

It wasn’t easy. I forced myself to read books on the devil and on hell. I had never read Milton’s “Lost Paradise” or Dante’s “Inferno,” and I must say the experience was fantastic. ~ Al Pacino

* * *

Interview With A Vampire

vampindex

Writer and director, Neil Jordan, said that he was inspired by John Milton while making Interview With the Vampire, his 1994 adaptation of Anne Rice’s vampire novel.

“I always remember reading ‘Paradise Lost’ when I was a kid and being fascinated by the figure of Lucifer … His dilemmas were far more fascinating than the dilemmas of the good angels.” ~ Neil Jordan

* * *

National Lampoon’s Animal House

Who can resist chuckling at Donald Sutherland’s comments about Paradise Lost in the 1978 movie National Lampoon’s Animal House? I sure couldn’t!

* * *

BOOKS

His Dark Materials

dark1

Author Philip Pullman wrote the His Dark Materials trilogy with the intention of producing a version of Paradise Lost that was not only accessible to teenagers, but that largely modeled and expanded on John Milton’s work.

“I hadn’t expected ever to write a fantasy, because I am not a great fantasy fan. But I realized that I could use the apparatus of fantasy to say things that I thought were true. Which was exactly what, I then realized, Milton had been doing with Paradise Lost. Paradise Lost is not a story of people and some other people who’ve got wings … Paradise Lost is a great psychological novel that happens to be cast in the form of a fantasy, because the devils and the angels are, of course, embodiments of psychological states.” ~ Philip Pullman

* * *

The Mad Woman in the Attic

mad

In 1979, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar published The Mad Woman in the Attic, a feminist text in which they argued women writers during the Victorian age like Jane Austen, Mary Shelley and the Brontë sisters to name a few, were expected to create female characters that were either angels or monsters. The book refers to Paradise Lost specifically with regards to John Milton’s depiction of Eve.

“It is in earlier, lonelier works, in novels like Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights, that we can see the female imagination expressing its anxieties about Paradise Lost most overtly. And Frankenstien in particular is a fictionalized rendition of the meaning of Paradise Lost to women.” ~ The Mad Woman in the Attic

* * *

MUSIC

eminem

Of course, there are plenty of heavy metal bands and opera composers who have been influenced by John Milton, but who caught my attention the most was rap artist, Eminem. Although he has denied ever reading poetry, Eminem has been highly praised by literary experts and writers for the poetic elements in his music lyrics. I recently discovered that his music video for Rap God contains illustrations and text from Paradise Lost. Who would’ve thunk?

I may need to read the His Dark Materials series and The Mad Woman in the Attic after I finish Paradise Lost. Have you read any of these books?

Advertisements

19 comments on “Today I Learned – John Milton Edition

  1. Carolyn O
    February 6, 2014

    love this! Also, Victorian poet William Blake illustrated PL — the drawings are crazy and wonderful.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      February 7, 2014

      I did take a look at Blake’s illustrations and particularly love some of the pictures of Adam and Eve. Just so dramatic and gorgeous!

      Like

  2. Cleo @ Classical Carousel
    February 7, 2014

    Good for you for researching all this!

    While trying to find photos for my blog posts, I’ve discovered that there are gazillions of illustrations/engravings of scenes of Paradise Lost. I can’t believe how many there are. It was certainly a popular poem.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      February 7, 2014

      It’s amazing how Paradise Lost has inspired such amazing artwork over time. But now that I’m reading the book, I can definitely see how the story fires up the imagination. I still can’t believe they haven’t tried to make an up-to-date movie.

      Like

  3. Naomi
    February 7, 2014

    Wow. I loved that! My kids and I just read The Golden Compass over the summer. I am trying to remember how it might compare, but it’s probably easier for someone who has actually read Paradise Lost. You can do it for me when you get to it. 🙂 The Golden Compass was good, but it was much darker than we were expecting. And my daughter said it was too wordy.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      February 7, 2014

      Ha ha … I know I say this about every book, but I think I’m going to have to read The Golden Compass and all the other books in the series now. Have you seen the movie? Paradise Lost is pretty wordy, so maybe Philip Pullman thought he should keep it up.

      Like

      • Naomi
        February 7, 2014

        No, we haven’t seen the movie. I was kind of afraid to let the kids watch it after realizing how dark the book was.

        Like

        • ebookclassics
          February 9, 2014

          Perfectly understandable concern. I guess I will find out more when I try reading Golden Compass.

          Like

  4. Cecilia
    February 7, 2014

    What a great and thoughtful post! I haven’t read any of these books, although The Mad Woman in the Attic is on my list. All of this makes me think I should have tried the Milton read-along with you guys. Poetry + epic intimidates me but a read-along may have been helpful.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      February 7, 2014

      Thank you! I had heard of The Mad Woman in the Attic, but I didn’t know specifically what it was about. I think I will have to read it too! Poetry + epic intimidates me too, so it’s so nice to have Carolyn’s guidance and knowledge about the book as I read.

      Like

  5. Sam (Tiny Library)
    February 8, 2014

    It’s amazing how much influence on popular culture some classic books can have. I’ve not read Paradise Lost, but I love the His Dark Materials trilogy and I can see the link now you’ve pointed it out. Interview with a Vampire is a great film, too!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      February 9, 2014

      Interview With a Vampire was a good movie and I laugh when I think about it because there seems to be a few vampire movies from that time period. I guess with Twilight we’ve had a new era of vampire popularity. I’m very curious about the His Dark Materials books now and might give them a try. Have you seen the Golden Compass movie?

      Like

  6. WordsAndPeace
    February 10, 2014

    studied Paradise Lost in my younger years, was fascinated by it, and plan to read it again. But I had no idea of its use in modern stuff like those!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      February 11, 2014

      I was also surprised by how much Paradise Lost has influenced different movies, books and music over the eyars. It’s such a challenging read, so I think it comes down to the original story of the fall of Adam and Eve, and good vs evil.

      Like

  7. christinasr
    February 23, 2014

    Also Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads album has been inspired by Paradise Lost. I’ve read His Dark Materials and watched The Golden Compass and it doesn’t measure up to the book.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      February 24, 2014

      I had a copy of Murder Ballads once but had no idea it was inspired by Paradise Lost. Thanks for sharing that little tidbit! I think I will have to add the His Dark Materials series to my TBR list. I just started reading The Demonologist which is about a professor who teaches about Paradise Lost and weird things happen to him.

      Like

      • christinasr
        February 25, 2014

        He actually mentions John Milton in (at least) one of the songs.
        I had The Demonologist on my most anticipated books of 2013 – and again on my list of books I missed in 2013… I’m really interested in hearing what you think of it. I don’t think I’ve read any reviews if it yet.

        Like

        • ebookclassics
          February 26, 2014

          I’m about 70 pages into the book and so far it hasn’t been too scary or creepy, but not too sure where the story is going. Apparently they are already working on the movie.

          Like

Thoughts? Comments?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Now reading

and …

and …

%d bloggers like this: