Nancy Charlton on the Gold Scroll

On Lindall’s Paradise Lost Scroll on Youtube

By Nancy Charlton

Thanks so much for the link to the YouTube video.  I think you are rather overemphasizing the 24k gold leaf, because the real "gold" lies in the perceptions incorporated in the artist's concepts.

I jotted down some off-the-cuff observations on my blog:

This is the best since Blake and Doré.

The painter has caught the essential allegory of Book I.  For the majority of the world who do not share my enthusiasm for Milton's epics, Paradise Lost is a retelling of the first three chapters of Genesis, filling out the details and sweeping under it all of what Alexander Pope invited his readers to "expatiate free" about.  [Note: my blog is titled "Expatiate Free!"]

Note the huge, naturalistic--almost photographic--eye that represents The Word.  It is present in every panel of the scroll, but for all its realism its details are quite Egyptian in form and reminiscent of the All-Seeing Eye that dominates the Masonic-derived image on the one-dollar bill from the top of the pyramid. But there are plenty of counterfeits of The Word also, the eyes that occupy the whole heads of many of the creatures.  It made me ask 'What is the opposite of the Word, the Truth?  Obviously, the lie that is the truth of Satan the rebel, the destroyer who destroys for the sake of destroying.'  As a story, Milton's verse is so compelling that you want to know the ending, even if you already know what it is.  But is it a necessary outcome?

I was first struck by the similarity, even identity, of detail in the tees, the vines, the branches in the first details we see, and no surprise, it morphs into the scales of the serpent. 

The council of Pandemonium contains angels who look much like contemporary demons, and it's no joke just what Satan and his rebel angels may have morphed into.  That is the value and the delight of allegory: to hold up the mirror to nature by identifying qualities that are so complete in the personification in essences and personae not of our direct experience as to give us back an image of our own collective and individual mind.

As I sat here watching the YouTube video, I had to read the printed text aloud, with great fervor, and it shivered me like a great peal

Nancy Charlton