rwill627 at cox.net
Tue Aug 29 09:33:35 EDT 2006
Ross has an excellent suggestion. In my younger Latin classes we do the first part of Sallust's Cataline and then plug in Cicero's 1st Catalinarian at the appropriate spot. I was once in a graduate class in which our frustated professor gave us an timeline for Morrison's Beloved before we did the book in class. (Having done a great deal of work on William Faulkner, I was not troubled by the book's format, but most students were).
After the beginning Ross suggests, a professor might, as my graduate professor and many others have done, hold an all-day readthrough of Paradise Lost. We found this very helpful.
My approach to the problem of PL's reputed impenetrability is to have the students begin, not at the beginning of the poem, but at the chronological beginning of the narrative (roughly) in Book V at line 561 (if memory serves). The war in heaven has a certain appeal to students who find its greater directness (the through-line to the rebels' expulsion) lacking in Book I that begins of course with the invocation and such. Book VI ends with the mention of "disobedience," and makes a natural bridge to PL's first line.
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