Milton's Seats -A Cultural Semiotic Reading of Paradise Lost-

Dr Noburhiro Kawashima(Faculty of English)

Saturday, 25 February, 2006; 7:30-9:30pm

Seminar room, No1. Newnham Terrace, Darwin College

John Milton (1608-74) is one of the most famous Cambridge graduate poets, whose works include Comus (1634), Lycidas (1637), Paradise Lost (1667), Samson Agonistes (1671). Particularly Paradise Lost, a religious epic of the biblical story about the original sin became one of the "classics" of English literature. Some people want to consider the classics as " timeless", "universal", and "humanistic", but, needless to say, even those works cannot help being under the influence of the time and place of its birth. For instance, in Paradise Lost, there is a scene, where listening to Raphael's story about the creation of the world, Adam and Eve take their seats around the table in their bower, but Milton's description of this scene is theoretically wrong, because there should be no seats, cultural products, in the garden of Eden, the a-cultural place. This paper tries to unearth hidden messages of Paradise Lost, by paying attention to the cultural aspects of this epic: two kinds of chair (thrones and seats); and the characters' postures and gestures based on them.