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Milton Across Borders and Media

Milton Across Borders and Media is a ground-breaking book demonstrating the breadth of response to John Milton’s work. Milton has always transcended international borders. However, this new research also demonstrates the multi-media reaction to his poetry. Written by scholars, translators and practising artists from around the world, this book from Oxford University Press shows the depth of response from the seventeenth century to today. As a result, we’re taken on a journey from visual and auditory media, to popular culture. For example, painting, stained glass, film, opera, hip-hop, and Braille are featured here. Consequently, we’re making the case for a global media studies approach that can elucidate literary works beyond words, naming this process ‘remateriality’.

My response: drawings, paintings & prints

For the last ten years, Milton has been a companion like Virgil to Dante guiding me through the narrative of my own life. I started this collaboration with an imagined drawing of Milton the Blind Poet considering the problem of evil. I ended my journey with a portrait of myself, acting as a companion piece to the long journey about good, evil, and everything in between that we had taken together. Milton is a great English poet who gives hope, which in itself is a creative act for these difficult times.

This is a short extract from my Chapter 17, entitled ‘The Synergies of Drawing and Painting Paradise Lost’ with an essay, interview and nine of my works.

Unprecedented collaboration

It’s been a real pleasure to work with these two editors, respected Milton scholars. Islam Issa, Professor of Literature and History, Birmingham City University, has been named one of the BBC’s New Generation of Thinkers. Angelica Duran is an extremely articulate Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Religious Studies at Purdue University in the States. Above all, we share a passion for Paradise Lost. Most importantly, this study has been a real labour of love.

How did all this start?

Not in a million years would I have guessed that a conversation with my son in front of the John Martin mezzotints for Paradise Lost (1827) in the Tate Apocalypse exhibition (2011) would result in this. Resonant with the story of Milton’s younger friend Thomas Elwood propelling the poet to publish what would become Paradise Regain’d, my son told me that it was about time I got on with it. Over the coming decade, I completed 179 uncommissioned artworks to make up A Conversation with John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Subsequently, here we are, 10 years later with 179 works on paper, canvas and board.

New digital book

In conclusion, you will find my Conversation with Paradise Lost in a digital publication covering all my drawings, paintings and prints, published by Benjamin Rhodes Arts. This heralds the 350th anniversary of the death of Milton in December 2024, celebrated with a one-person show at Milton’s Cottage in Chalfont St Giles.

Luminous. Light. Colour. Imagination

My current show at Benjamin Rhodes Arts includes the triptych The Cloud of Unknowing, from Book III of Paradise Lost. I’ll be showing there with Emrys Williams until 17th February 2024.

Milton Across Borders and Media

Milton Across Borders and Media is published by Oxford University Press in January 2024, ISBN 9780 1928447 43.