Stanley Kubrick’s Debt To John Milton
It’s a very good job I have short-term recall of facts. Otherwise, no friend would be able to have a conversation with me without me pouncing all over their words and unravelling and re-connecting them. As it is, I will just be restricted to pouncing on the word and saying – you know that word GENERAL you just used well read that fabulous book The Etymologicon and see how it links to people making oaths hand-on-testicles.
I would love to invite this author to dinner, (though I might not get, or want, a word in edgeways!) such is the absorbed, inventive, eclectic, playful mind, weaving together such a fascinating circularity of linguistic musing. Derivations can be an interesting, but often rather dryly explained topic. Not here. Forsyth is erudite, witty, conversational, and enormously excited and passionate about his subject, sweeping the reader enthusiastically upwards and onwards in a great circle of linguistic connections. This is a smile-on-your-face-laugh-out-loud-gosh-that-is-FASCINATING-I-want-to-know-more sort of book.
I was delighted to find that my undergarments for my nether regions have compassionate origins (The much beleaguered patron saint of Venice, Saint Pantaleon, (means All-Compassionate); Venetians often then referred to as Pantaloni ; Commedia del Arte gives the character Pantalone wearing the typical style of breeches, Pantaloons, worn by those Venetians; Pants!
As for Stanley Kubrick? Well Milton was the inventor, like Shakespeare, of a huge number of words and phrases which are now common coinage in our language. One of these Miltonic words was the word ‘Space’ applied cosmologically.
So, without Milton, Kubrick’s seminal (!) film might have had to be called 2001-A Great Void Odyssey. Which could have been a disaster, as the subliminal linguistic message might have been interpreted as 2001 – one to A-Void. Particularly if someone was familiar with connections to matters lavatorial and colonic irrigation in the non-Miltonic ways of describing the cosmos (you’ll have to work it out)