Monday, December 9, 2019

Library Way: John Milton and Areopagitica

Censorship interferes with the pursuit of truth.

Areopagitica is a polemic on the right to freedom of speech and expression by an impassioned John Milton. It was distributed via pamphlet in 1644, in defiance of pre-publication censorship.

When there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good persons is but knowledge in the making.

— John Milton

The plaque on Library Way is not the only quote from Milton's Areopagitica to be featured by the New York Public Library. Above the entrance to the Main Reading Room is the following quote: "A good Booke is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm'd and treasur'd up on purpose to a life beyond life."

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Entrance to Main Reading Room at New York Public Library.

In 1996, the New York Public Library, the Grand Central Partnership and the New Yorker Magazine convened a panel of esteemed lovers of the written word and came up with a collection of quotations from the never-ending oeuvre of literature.

These quotes were cast in bronze by New York sculptor Gregg LeFevre and then laid out as sidewalk plaques on E 41st Street in 1998. In 2003, the stretch of E 41st Street from
the New York Public Library entrance on Fifth Avenue to Park Avenue was renamed Library Way.

Today, on the anniversary of his birth in 1608, we celebrate the author John Milton. Whether it be a birthday, anniversary or publication date of a seminal work, the Bar Group will revisit these 40+ quotations from time to time — quotations that inspire one to write, read, explore and embracNone e literature. We last visited Isak Dinesen.

No comments:

Post a Comment