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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    12 hours for 12 books of Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’

    Brittan Bates
    Brittan Bates / The Daily Wildcat Undergraduate and graduate students take turns reading at the MIlton Marathon reading of Paradise Lost in Tucson, Ariz. on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Professor John Ulriech planned the event and observes the students reading.

    “… Whose fault? Whose but his own? Ingrate!” were lines that could be heard echoing from the reading room on the west side of the Main Library’s third floor Friday afternoon.

    Friday was the 17th Annual Milton Marathon run by John Ulreich, an English professor whose classes revolve around studying the King James Bible and John Milton. The marathon went from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with readings of all 12 books of “Paradise Lost,” the epic poem written by Milton centuries before.

    The diction of the epic is very different from works of other writers of the time, such as William Shakespeare’s plays, which can raise questions about what draws people in to study or appreciate it. The appreciation of the work was evident in the engaged expressions on some of the participants’ faces.

    “There is something in Milton for everyone,” Ulreich said.

    Ulreich said the annual reading provides an opportunity to become exposed to different perspectives and interpretations students and audience members may have of Milton’s poem.

    The long passages are not easy to comprehend and often require some thinking to understand the meaning behind an idea. The crowd of people in the reading room included students who took Ulreich’s class on Milton’s works this past spring.

    “I think Milton is one of the underappreciated great poets of the English language,” said Jorge Rodriguez, a UA English alumnus, who returned to campus for the event. “I like how I learn something new [every time] I read his books or his plays — ‘Paradise Lost,’ specifically.”

    Rodriguez added that Ulreich made him care about Milton’s work and inspired him to study it.

    “[Milton] sounded interesting,” said Emma Harken, an English senior. “I’ve taken pretty much all the Shakespeare that an English major can take at this university, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to consider Milton, but at the same time they are very, very different.”

    Harken added that Milton’s language is more academic and is quoted, found and referenced everywhere, which has helped in other classes she is taking now.

    “Regarding ‘Paradise Lost,’ Milton brings up these larger than life questions,” said Joshua Morrison, a senior studying English literature and creative writing.

    Morrison said reading Milton’s work is about thinking what’s actually being asked, which can lead to questions about what life is, what’s important to life and what life means. Morrison said “Paradise Lost” makes an attempt to answer these questions, which is why it captures people’s attention.


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