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The Core Curriculum

Core Readings: Lit Hum Instructor Julie Crawford reads Milton

1667 CE
Relates to: 


Julie Crawford, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia, reads selections from Paradise Lost
The story of Adam and Eve, of their temptation and subsequent expulsion from paradise, is among the most familiar stories in western literature and the basis for the Christian doctrine of “original sin.”

But why do the various actors in the story do what they do?   In Paradise Lost, John Milton, the 17th century English poet and radical polemicist, plumbs the psyches of man, woman and Satan in order to “explain the ways of God to men.”

In her reading, Crawford focuses on the interactions between Adam and Eve before and after their fateful act of disobedience — and on the misogynistic implications and legacy of Milton’s version of the Eden story.  


BOOK 9 lines 921-1016. Eve explains her reasons for taking the Serpent’s advice and eating from the forbidden “Tree of Knowledge.”  Eventually, Adam relents and eats as well.  

BOOK 9, lines 1017-1066.  Having eaten the fruit, Adam and Even engage in lascivious sex only to awaken full of shame.  

BOOK 10, lines 720-789. Adam, conscious of his sin and damnation, despairs before God for his and Eve’s transgression.  

BOOK 10, lines 817-862. Ultimately, Adam blames Eve’s weakness not only for his own sin but for the damnation of all mankind. 

(23 minutes)