Shakespeare vs Milton
The Kings of English Literature Debate
Sunday June 22 2014, 6pm | Royal Geographical Society
To his legions of devotees, no writer has come close to matching Shakespeare’s understanding of the world – or his gift for dramatic poetry. Shakespeare sees off all international rivals, whether it’s in the spheres of comedy, tragedy or the sonnet. Even today you and I quote Shakespeare without knowing it: if you act more in sorrow than in anger, if you vanish into thin air or have ever been tongue-tied, hoodwinked or slept not one wink, you’re speaking the Bard’s English.
But Milton, say his admirers, works on an altogether different, higher plane. In Paradise Lost – the best poem ever written in English – Milton moved beyond the literary to address political, philosophical and religious questions in a way that still resounds strongly today. His engagement with the issues of the day – slavery, free will, censorship, love and creation – was unparallelled. He defines not only his age, but our own.
To help you decide who should be crowned king of English letters we're bringing together two expert advocates to make the case for each writer, and they will be calling on a cast of leading actors to illustrate their arguments with readings from the works.