Monday, September 2, 2013

Why I Require Students to Listen to Paradise Lost

As we read and study Paradise Lost in my course on John Milton, I require students to purchase and listen to a specific audiobook version of the famous long poem. This is the edition I require, the Naxos Audiobook version narrated by Anton Lesser (2005). (This can be downloaded via Audible. Students can get this for free with a trial membership at Audible or more expensively on CD via Amazon.)

Why require an audiobook version?
Paradise Lost, while not a theatrical play, is nevertheless very theatrical. Reading a very long poem can be a chore, and I have found that whenever I require students to listen to this poem, in addition to reading it themselves, they have the best experience.

Why this audiobook version?
I have listened to many audio versions of Paradise Lost, and I also enjoy the version with Nadia May as narrator. (I find it interesting especially to hear a female voice during the key temptation scenes in Book IX). Anton Lesser is a British actor with a fine feeling for the inherent drama in Milton's poetry. He makes it very exciting! Go to this page to listen to the free sample.

Do I really have to sign up for Audible?
No. As I said, you can get this on CDs via Amazon ($54) or even as a direct purchase download from Audible without membership (using the same link to Audible, above) for about $42. I am a big fan of Audible and have been a member for some time. I recommend it! But I also know students are economizing. Getting the free audiobook requires signing up for a monthly plan at $14.95/month, but then remembering to cancel the plan after downloading the free audiobook (which you are free to do).

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