Actually, it hasn’t quite happened yet. Staying up all night makes the next three days feel like jet lag to me. Maybe that’s appropriate, given the vast distances we traversed in our all-night reading of Paradise Lost.
This year was particularly satisfying. We were in the lovely and cozy Alvey House, and the readers, almost all of them students, seemed unusually committed and sparkling. There was a goodly variety of folks coming and going throughout the reading, until the wee hours. Then the six of us who stayed all night dug in deep for the last four books. Even at the end, we were reluctant to break the spell, until after several deep sighs a three-time reader cried aloud, “I can’t believe he did all that in his head!”
Nor can I.
I hope to post a more complete account at some point. For now, suffice it to say that, tired as I am, I’m ready to do it again. Here’s to next year’s journey.
Note: the image above is of my blacklight poster of Gustav Dore’s “Satan Overlooking Paradise,” one of his illustrations of Book 4 of Paradise Lost. I bought the poster many, many years ago at a head shop in Bristol, Tennessee. I was twelve years old and had a dollar in my pocket. The poster was in a dollar bin in the back room. I didn’t know the winged creature was Satan, nor did I know the source of the illustration. What’s more, I had no idea that I was purchasing a token of my destiny as a Miltonist. Even if I had known, I don’t think I would have believed it.