Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
When Richard J. DuRocher, a professor of English at St. Olaf College, in Northfield, Minn., told one of his classes that he was running a marathon, everybody cheered. Then he told them what kind of marathon: a straight-through, out-loud reading of John Milton’s Paradise Lost — all 12 books of it, from Satan’s fall to Adam and Eve’s eviction from the Garden of Eden.
If that sounds eccentric, even masochistic, consider that December 9 is the poet’s 400th birthday. What better way to mark the quatercentenary than to read his greatest work aloud? Marathons are happening at the University of Cambridge, Milton’s alma mater; at the University of Richmond; and at dozens of other places, notes Mr. DuRocher.
If it’s good enough for James Joyce, whose Ulysses gets a public airing every Bloomsday (June 16), it’s good enough for John Milton. But is it heaven or hell for the participants?