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BLAKE AND MILTON – SOME VISUAL INTERPRETATIONS Dr. Shreeparna Ghosal Assistant Professor in English Vidyasagar College for Women, 39 Shankar Ghosh Lane, Kolkata -700006


In fact the powerful combination of Milton and Blake has not ceased to inspire. Terrance Lindall, a noted American surrealist artist born in 1944, has also illustrated Milton’s Paradise Lost and his version is taught at New York University in Professor Karen Karbiener’s classes along with the other artists’, especially Blake. His version was published in the Heavy Metal. This magazine is a favourite American science fiction and fantasy comics magazine liked greatly by young American students. In fact this is a fine example to show how, with the changing times, Milton and Blake have gone from being classroom canons to popular cult figures. It also exemplifies how these poets and visionaries still appeal to the younger generation today. The Heavy Metal Magazine is owned and published by Kevin Eastman, cocreator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Publication of the original French magazine ceased in 1987. It resumed in July 2002 under the French name Métal Hurlant, edited by Les Humanoïdes Associés. In a feature article on the “New International Surrealist Movement” in the March 2006 issue of Art & Antiques Magazine, several Heavy Metal artists are mentioned as major expressionists of that movement. Professor Karen Karbiener, Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, gave a lecture at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center in 2004 on “ ...Milton’s Satan and his impact on countercultural artistic movements from William Blake to the Beat poets in essence, the artists “between” Milton and Lindall , the radical artistic legacy.” She is the general editor of a two volume survey of rebellious and reactionary American art forms, 1607- 2004, the Encyclopedia of American Counterculture. Lindall’s portraiture of Milton’s Satan, though different from Blake’s in many ways, has the same troubling, thought-provoking qualities. If we look at the picture we see Hell burning deep inside Satan’s entrails. What interests one about this painting is the Buddha-like, meditative, cross legged posture adopted by Satan which looks extremely oriental in some ways. His eyes are turned inward as he seems lost in flames of his own creation. His left hand gently cradles the fire in his insides, almost as one would hold an infant. His right hand is raised in a typical Buddha-like gesture of blessing. One wonders at the strange combination of violence and peace in the one body, a peculiar coming together of trauma and acceptance at the same time on the visage. His face is that of an aged man, lined with the Experience of Fall while his body looks like that of a gnarled tree. Nowhere have ‘Contraries’ been more apparent and very seldom in the twentieth century have we seen opposites yoked together with such force. Thus we find Milton’s Paradise Lost opened the floodgates of rebellion for thinking artists and each of them responded through their work in their own novel way. But we also note that Blake’s depictions of personal, social and cosmic rebellion has been the most powerful of all and has defied space and time to endure to the present day.

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