Sunday, January 16, 2011

Reading Log

Compared to the last reading log entry, this one is embarrassingly short.


  • C.S. Lewis, A Preface To Paradise Lost, Chapters V–XXI
  • John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book V–VI (unfinished)

I’ve finished with Lewis’s Preface but continue to listen to the Yale lectures by Prof. John Rogers. The lectures are interesting for all of their information about Milton’s life, and for its exploration of Milton’s other writings. Less interesting, however, are the key points of the lectures. Professor Rogers is painting a portrait of Milton as a rebellious heretic against orthodox Christianity, and one who is scandalously sensual. The thing is, however, that the line of orthodoxy against which Milton is being contrasted is either very particular to his time and circumstances or else theoretically derived without much of a relationship to the actuality of Christian theological understanding. I have thought time after time that these lectures sound like the professor has determined his thesis and is working like a sculptor in clay to make the details all fit and point the right way. I was just this weekend commenting to my wife that I’m betting he had a book in the offing during the lectures and that the lectures were part of his working out of the details. Revisiting the Open Yale site today I see that, “He is currently working on a book on Milton’s relationship to antitrinitarian heresy, entitled Milton and the Heresy of Individualism.”

Lewis’s biases are that of orthodox Christianity. His reading allows Milton his Christianity, and keeps primarily to what is to be discovered within the poem. This approach is less sensational, but makes far more sense to someone experienced with Christianity from the inside. I’m with Lewis in thinking that it’s better to temporarily try to fit myself to the work’s view of the world than to try to make the work fit my view of the world. I guess I’m guilty of being scandalously old fashioned.


  • Paul Barry, Head First Python, Chapters I–IV (unfinished)

I normally have a difficult time with programming books. They are either too rudimentary and I lose interest because it’s not keeping up with my brain, or they are too advanced and I get bored and then lost in the endless stream of technical information. This book strikes a nice balance. It’s relatively entertaining, and relatively fast paced. It certainly feels like I’m learning useful stuff and making quick progress.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lewis Regained

Before I started reading Paradise Lost I picked up the Norton Critical Edition and was pleased to find C.S. Lewis among the authors excerpted in the selection of modern criticism. Pleased, and somewhat surprised… after all, he takes Milton’s Christianity seriously, he insists on the ridiculousness rather than the heroism of Milton’s Satan, and he’s of that quaint school of criticism which gives consideration to authorial intention.

Lewis was one of the major figures helping me find my way into adulthood. At some point, though, I kind of drifted away from him. I seem to recall reading Miracles in 1998 or 1999 and then sometime in the last 5 or 6 years I re-read all of the Narnia books and that was it. Reading A Preface to Paradise Lost brings with it a sense of coming full circle. It was Lewis (and Tolkien) that really spurred my interest in Homer, Virgil, and Beowulf, and there’s something deeply comforting and rewarding in reading him again.