Brent’s Podcast: Paradise Lost Retold

December 9, 2008

(Click here to Download Interview)

Today is John Milton’s 400th birthday.danielson

To celebrate the distinguished English poet’s quatercentenary, University campuses throughout England and North America will feature marathon readings of Paradise Lost, Milton’s magnum opus (such as here and here). Even the mainstream media has been paying homage to the literary bard (see here and here).

For his part, Milton scholar Dennis Danielson will spend the lunchhour in a Vancouver bookstore, signing copies of his recently published Parallel Prose Edition of Paradise Lost.

Danielson’s text places Milton’s original side by side with a careful prose rendering of the epic. The idea is to engage readers who want to read Paradise Lost, but feel overwhelmed by the 10,565 lines in the original.

The UBC Prof’s efforts recently received positive attention from Stanley Fish, who blogs about Danielson’s book in his New York Times piece, which has since been reprinted in the International Herald-Tribune, The New York Times global newspaper.

Reading the comments on Fish’s blog so far, it’s a dangerous thing to mess with one jot or tittle of Milton’s masterpiece. Some comments showed outright disdain for the project: “Whatever else it may be,” writes James Linker, “it isn’t Paradise Lost.”


I sat down with Danielson on the eve of Milton’s birthday to talk about how he ended up rewriting what he considers the greatest poem of the English language. The resulting interview is here in my podcast (note: to get the podcast in a better quality, you have to sign up for a free podOmatic account to get it).

Danielson, head of the English department at the University of British Columbia, has well established Miltonian credentials. A participant in scholarly Milton societies and colloquia, he is also the author of Milton’s Good God: A Study of Literary Theodicy (Cambridge University Press, 1982), and the Editor of The Cambridge Companion to John Milton (Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition, 1999).

Update: Click here to listen to Dr. Danielson on CBC radio.



  1. Hey — I tried clicking on the “podcast” link and the “download interview” link, but couldn’t get either of them to work. Do you still have the interview posted somewhere?

  2. The link below still works for me. The interview is actually on thethunderbird.ca website. You can email me at wttmeier@interchange.ubc.ca and I’ll send you it to you (or anyone else).
    [audio src="http://thethunderbird.ca/files/2008/12/1208ddpodcast.mp3" /]

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