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The Life and Writings of John Milton by Seth Lerer

The Life and Writings of John Milton

by Seth Lerer

Title Details

Audio Original
Running Time
6 Hrs.
User Rating
  4.3  Stars Based on 2 ratings


This course examines the life and work of English poet John Milton (1608–1674) to understand the richness and depth of his poetry, its representation of 17th-century English life and culture, and its impact on later writers and English literary history as a whole.

Chief among these writings is Paradise Lost, perhaps the greatest epic poem in the English language. You also review:

  • Milton’s early poetry
  • "Lycidas"
  • Areopagitica
  • political Milton
  • Paradise Regained
  • Samson Agonistes.

Professor Lerer combines close readings of selected passages with biographical information and discussions of larger themes: sin and judgment, authority and revolt, love and hate, pride and humility, ambition and failure.

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Reviews & Ratings
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Reviewer LOLAlex
 February 17, 2006
Title: A Wonderfully Tempting Series

General Content - If you are interested in learning more about both Paradise Lost and the man who wrote it, you will be very pleased with The Life and Writings of John Milton by Prof. Seth Lerer. This lecture series is well designed, well constructed, and altogether fascinating. Not content to merely discuss Paradise Lost for 12 lectures, Prof. Lerer examines the man known as John Milton, several of his works, and how the poet's life affected his poetry.

By working through John Milton's life and showing how his father shaped him, Prof. Lerer has built a remarkable portrait of a conflicted man who turned his own turmoil into great poetry. As well, Prof. Lerer traces Milton's career from his family life to school to his career as a poet, always with his eye on his father and his influence. However, Prof. Lerer also dives into the political life and Milton and his involvement with Oliver Cromwell, allowing his thesis to have some breadth.

Of course, most of the lecture series is dedicated to Paradise Lost. This great epic, the masterwork of Milton's career, has earned its place as the center of Milton's poetics, as well as this lecture series. However, Prof. Lerer also examines a few other works, such as Lycidas and Paradise Regained. However, he does not dive into these works at the same depth as Paradise Lost. I particularly would have liked to have learned more about Paradise Regained, but it was lumped into one lecture with Milton's last work -- Samson Agonistes. Thus, the lecture series feels like it is on the short side. However, it is still a very good lecture series that provides a very good view of Milton and his world.

Audio Content - I listed to the 6-cassette version of "The Life and Writings of John Milton" from The Teaching Company and I came away very impressed. Prof. Lerer has a very good, full speaking voice that makes him a pleasure to listen to. His command of the language is enhanced by his genuine love for Milton and Paradise Lost, giving him a certain authority and an infectious fascination with Milton's Works.

Overall, this lecture series is a pleasure to listen to. With very good, if somewhat short content and a lecturer who is excited to teach you about Milton, I highly recommend this series.

More Details

  • Published: 0006
  • LearnOutLoud.com Product ID: T002740
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