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Milton is still relevant on his 400th birthday

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 10/29/08 • Media Contact: Susan Knapp • (603) 646-3661 

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Paradise Lost read-a-thon planned at Dartmouth on Nov. 16 to celebrate

Thomas Luxon
Thomas Luxon, who has published numerous books, papers, and articles about John Milton, organized the event. (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

To commemorate the 400th birthday of John Milton on Dec. 9, and to honor his literary contributions to the English language, members of the Dartmouth community will read Paradise Lost, aloud, for approximately 7 hours on Sunday, Nov. 16. The reading marathon will take place on the Dartmouth campus, in Collis Common Ground, and the general public is invited to listen and participate. The Collis Student Center is located at the corner of Main Street and West Wheelock Street in Hanover. 

English professor Thomas Luxon, who has published numerous books, papers, and articles about John Milton, organized the event. Luxon's passion for this 400-year-old poet extends to the online Milton Reading Room, which he created in 1997 and continues to maintain. This highly annotated resource offers web links, which provide instant reference material and explanations, making Milton more accessible to non-specialists.

Written more than 340 years ago, Paradise Lost delves into many controversial theological issues of its time, and grapples with the moral values of good and evil. The epic poem and other works by Milton have always been important sources for key historical figures, said Luxon.

"In this country, men like Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams read and re-read Milton's poetry and his pamphlets as they formed their ideas of human liberty," said Luxon. "Milton framed and re-framed his theories of liberty, government by consent of the governed, divorce and civil marriage and the origins of tyranny, formulations that inspired the founding of the United States as a republic." Luxon is also the Cheheyl Professor and Director of the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, the professional development center for those on campus involved in teaching.

"I took English 28 (Milton) with Professor Luxon during spring term 2006, and it was one of the best classes I have taken at Dartmouth," said Lauren Indvik, a member of the class of 2009. "We were taught to read Milton out loud in order to gain a fuller appreciation and understanding of the text. Paradise Lost is a powerful epic, and when read with understanding and enthusiasm it becomes even more powerful." Indvik, an English major from Newport Beach, Calif., will participate in the Nov. 16 read-a-thon.

Anirudh Jangalapalli '09, from Gaithersburg, Md., will also read on Nov. 16. "I'm not an English major. I'm majoring in economics and minoring in art history. I've read Paradise Lost, and I enjoy epics a lot. I think they're meant to be performed, so I signed up," he said.

"I look forward to hearing a range of voices, old and young, volunteering to read the entire poem aloud in celebration of one of the most ambitious and accomplished poets of all time," said Luxon.

To sign up to participate in the read-a-thon, send an e-mail to

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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