Audio Guide to

"Imagining Paradise, an Exhibit for the John Milton Quatercentenary"

January 1, 2009 - April 1, 2009 Thomas Cooper Library, Mezzanine Gallery


     In conjunction with this new exhibition celebrating the 400th anniversary of Milton’s birth, the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has prepared a special exhibition audio guide. Narrated by Dr. Patrick Scott, Director of Rare Books and Special Collections, this half-hour guided tour of the exhibition highlights notable items and provides background information on Milton’s life, his poetry, and the circumstances surrounding the production of his works. It is available in 2 forms:

1) As a free podcast to download.
2) On a preloaded iPod that can be checked out at the Thomas Cooper Library circulation desk.

     Each of the five major sections of the exhibition has been recorded as its own MP3 file. Download the audio guide:

Track 1
Track 2
Track 3
Track 4
Track 5

The audio guides and iPods have been provided by the generous gift of The Thomas Cooper Society.

About the exhibition

     Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667) became one of the most influential, most widely-read, and most frequently-reprinted of all English books. Unlike earlier epics, Milton’s poem told the story not of one nation, but of mankind, and not of individual quest or heroism, but of a more universal experience:

“Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden fruit whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world and all our woe,
With loss of Eden…”

     In the centuries since Milton’s death, in 1674, the poem has drawn responses not only from readers and critics, but also from poets and musicians and artists. Since then many artists and illustrators have produced illustrations or illustrative sequences. Each generation has responded in its own terms, bringing out different aspects of Milton’s poem, focusing perhaps on paradise and paradisal love, or the titanic conflicts of the warring angels, or on Satan as Romantic rebel, as much as on the Fall itself.

     This exhibition charts the development of Milton illustration, from the first illustrated edition of Paradise Lost (1688) through eighteenth-century, Romantic, and Victorian illustration, to recent fine-press editions. It includes important original drawings and water-colors by Hayman, Richter, Westall, and others, as well as engravings by Rowlandson, Fuseli, and Martin, and fine Milton editions with illustrations by Blake, Turner, and Doré.


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