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Paradise Finally Lost?

According to this article on Reutgers, Poet Laureate Andrew Motion believes students can’t “get past ‘go'” in such classics as Milton’s Paradise Lost without having basic knowledge of the Bible. Other classics that suffer in their loss of students understanding their full meaning also include Shakespeare, with something as simple as the title “Measure for Measure” (which comes from the Bible) being a lost reference for students.

Interestingly enough, Professor John Mullan comments that this lack of Biblical background may come from universities “accepting young people from much broader social backgrounds, with less frequent immersion in classical literature, than they had in the past.” Or perhaps more specifically, less exposure to the Bible and Christianity? (Though they do argue religious adherence is not a requirement.)

I’m sure it is a lament of every generation, but will there come a time when Milton and Shakespeare are no longer the “classics” to be studied? Will their references, regardless of how “archetypal” be so without point of grounding in student understanding that they become irrelevant? Me thinks it is only a matter of time…

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