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Paradise Lost (1667)

by John Milton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Milton's Paradise (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,72983451 (3.98)4 / 342
Vol. 1: "This authoritative text of the first edition of John Milton's Paradise lost transcribes the original 10-book poem, records its textual problems and numerous differences from the second edition, and discusses in critical commentary the importance of these issues"--Provided by publisher.Vol. 2: "Essays by ten Miltonists establish the significant differences in text, context, and effect of the first edition of Paradise lost (1667) from the now standard second edition (1674), examining in particular the original text's relationship to the literary and theological world it entered in 1667 and thus offering interesting correctives to our understanding of Milton's thought"--Provided by publisher.… (more)
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English (72)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Italian (2)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (83)
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)

For me, reading Paradise Lost was like the first time I read Homer’s Odyssey. It is immersive, interesting and stokes both heart and mind. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m glad I waited so long to read it. I needed some experience and growth before I could appreciate it for its depth. Interestingly enough, I first became aware of Milton’s epic poem as a child, from the “Space Seed” episode of one of my favorite TV series, Star Trek. The line in that episode was spoken by Satan in Paradise Lost: “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven” (I: 263).

This poem is about the Fall of man in the garden of Eden. The Tree of Knowledge is one of the two forbidden trees in the Garden. In Book IV, Satan says of that tree:“Can it be a sin to know?
Can it be death? And do they only stand
By Ignorance? Is that their happy state
The proof of their obedience and their faith?”
(IV: 517-520)Satan furthers it in Book IX, the exciting beginning of the Fall. Satan sneaks into the Garden of Eden. Speaking to Eve alone, he says of the fruit of the forbidden tree, “Why then was this forbid? Why, but to awe;
Why, but to keep ye low and ignorant,
His worshippers”
(IX: 703-705)Eve gives in to desire and reaches for the fruit. I would too. Knowledge is food for me.

Another favorite quote of mine from Paradise Lost is one that was used as an epigraph in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Paradise Lost is one of the three books that the Creature finds in the woods and with which he teaches himself to read. (The other two books are Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther and one volume of Plutarch’s Lives.) The quote is:“Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me”
(X: 743-745) ( )
  drew_asson | Mar 22, 2020 |
Love these books
  JessicaRobinson | Nov 6, 2019 |
One of those rare books that feels absolutely complete, that feels like supreme art. Paradise Lost manages to be in harmony with its Biblical roots, its Classical forebears (blank verse epics like those of Homer and Virgil) and also with those of a more modern disposition. His reading of the character of Satan is particularly fascinating; the Adversary is charismatic and (whisper it) speaks a lot of sense regarding faith, reason and deference to power.

This reading is particularly bold when you consider when the book was written. People were being imprisoned and killed for heresy and for blasphemy (Milton went over to Florence at one point and met with Galileo), and lines regarding the righteous overthrow of rulers were particularly dangerous at a time when Charles II had ascended to the restored throne of England after a period of civil war. The story behind the book shows the importance of physical and moral courage for a writer who wants to write honestly, who is principled in his art, and you cannot but respect Milton for that.

But for all the subversive energy which Milton's lines contain, particularly in the early Books of Paradise Lost, the book also works just as well – if not better – with a straight reading. Milton's conceptualization of Hell as a place where you end up if you are bitter and resentful and unwilling to accept (and then transcend) your limitations – a conceptualization expanded on through Satan's soliloquizing – is one that shows why the Christian mythos remains one of enduring utility. Milton's Satan is attractive and modern, but Milton also shows you why it is dangerous to follow him down, turning your back on God.

In addition to getting its philosophy harmonious, Paradise Lost also works exceptionally well as story. There are some arresting dramatic scenes, from the imperial fury of the battle for Heaven between Satan's rebels and the loyal angels, to Satan's lonely moment of lust for Eve, and Adam's wide-eyed exploration of Paradise. Adam's decision to knowingly follow Eve down into Sin – a decision made out of love – aches with poignancy, as does the perfect ending in which the angel Michael takes Adam and Eve by their hands and gently leads them out of Eden into their exile. Milton's conceptualization of the cosmos is also fascinating to explore, and extraordinarily prescient. He brings to us concepts such as the void of space, infinity, alien worlds ("Space may produce new worlds" (pg. 19)), and perhaps even – this is my own personal reading – an early conceptualization of dark matter ("Things not revealed, which th' invisible King, Only omniscient, hath suppressed in night, To none communicable in earth or Heaven." (pg. 153)).

Admittedly, the blank verse poetry can be difficult, and you can tire easily when reading the book, but it is also incredibly rich, with lines that have become iconic ("Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n," for example (pg. 9)), a wealth of allusion (the endnotes to my Penguin Classics edition are almost as long as the book itself) and a cultural imprint shared by precious few books. The use of the word 'space' to describe the cosmos comes from Milton, and much of what we think we know as the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, and of the rebellion of the angels under Satan, comes not from Genesis but from here. You're reading a book of phenomenal influence when you read Paradise Lost, a fundamental exploration of the Western cultural conceptualization of life. Like the new Adam addressing the sun, you marvel that there can be such sublime magnificence brought into the world. ( )
  Mike_F | Sep 15, 2018 |
Milton wrote a great poem but it's also a byproduct of its day - 1667 - and he views events and characters very much through the male gaze; as do all organized religions and which the poem references. Thus, the apple on the tree of knowledge was (imo) something a religious-minded white Portuguese male would regard as sinful. As it stands, the sin no longer applies. It is 2005, eating the apple amounts to doing just that; eating an apple. Unless you have the apple representing something else, i.e., update the sin attached to it. What if it the apple was meant to test the consequence of giving Adam and Eve free will? See what they'd do with it? It's almost as if Satan was allowed to escape hell because it was part of God's bigger plan. Of course - so that man could LOVE God of his own free will. Even the simple act of eating does of course symbolise our interactivity, our symbiosis, with nature - that in itself bears a responsibility. So, the apple was an interface in a way between mankind abnegating responsibility to God's will and being participatory in it instead. That's Evolution! Moral certainty of sin/grace evolved too - quite rightly into today's concept of contingency and context.

In my book Milton is the main man, the Yeats of his day, but with a much less comedic outcome and overall strike rate of gags. Cromwell’s PR man and a life spiralling out of control, the linguistic mouthpiece for himself first and discovered deeper than anyone sane person would hope to emulate or seriously hope to outlive as a narrative of reality the fates allotted exquisitely and which has long been understood in the brythonic tradition, that each life is unique and a poem in itself. Milton went blind, the cruelest fate but one which propelled him to the highest ridge of poetic attainment, forged in the turbulent bloodletting in which his first robust roar for himself first as the poet of a revolution; like Mayakovsky, fate put him in a certain space and time and he surrendered to the powerful spiritual combination of his intellect and passion, and it is befitting, though entirely tragic, that the first seriously poetic cornerstone figure whose gravitas came from the real life antics his person was part and often a central linguistic force affecting not to mirror as the Luna light of William Shakespeare did in far less personally turbulent times when he struck the primary metrical coinage of modern English bardic lore; but acting as the show and pazzaz, the me, me, me of being needy, very clever, broke the mould and everyone since conspires to make the best of a poor do with this chap, who let's face it, we read far less of than beyond a few verses before switching off, knowing we are being offered caviar, but preferring instead the real staple of British poetic. Rustics we are, as well as morons clotted whimsies, we indulge in because intellectually, we are all “me arse”, and as Graves said, admitting Milton is the British genius, should not blind us to the basic error which is the very grain, grease and premise of poetry, the binary opposite set of circumstance and premise which create the journey and object of linguistic artifice we call poetry.

And Milton discovered it at a terrible cost of a new national poetic born in less than charitable times, a most intellectually fascinating, but less natural than Shakespeare; he’s a great source of refuge for the fire and brimstone mobs; one can imagine his frenzies fed to direct action, like Cromwell, possessed by a warp spasm of uncontrollable madness when the Muse was in full flight, inventing the terrors only too, too real, and so Milton is extremely strong proof, best for whipping one's rabble into shape with him and Cromwell, two very divisive national martyrs who have a high regard domestically but globally are seen as fundamentally flawed perhaps; life's too short for taking on Milton in one mad binge, and really one needs next to none of him, as he cannot be cooked up to offer us anything other than mad loathing and foaming, a terrible wisdom bought at horrific cost, and after him the artificial decorum of the new bores in the coffee shops which exploded in 18th Century London, where Horribles got together and bitched, the blind leading the suicidal bad vibe, which I think it is fair to say, is essentially, supremely competitive.

Please adopt me as your protégé Milton; I want to carry the rumens' flame to the next generation of young poets seeking to set out into the treacherous straits of amateur verse, just how to set about switching over to be a pro, to attain that gravitas only our most ennobling examples of savvy exotica we concoct in the thoroughly unpleasant and incredibly jealous septic tank heritage Milton and various other chaps had no fun inventing.

NB: My wife and I once saw a dramatisation of “Paradise Lost”. In the first, before the Fall scenes, Adam and Eve were completely naked in the Garden of Eden and, no doubt as a result of their cuddling, Adam soon got rather a splendid but no doubt unwanted, erection. This distraction was, as I pointed out to my wife, sadly appropriate since the early Christian church maintained that before the Fall, Adam was able to control his penis at will. This postlapsarian actor, of course, could not. ( )
  antao | Aug 23, 2018 |
Only 1st 124 lines of Book I ( )
  Eileen9 | May 23, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (105 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Miltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ackroyd, PeterPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bengtsson, Frans G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bentley, RichardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blake, WilliamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burghers, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doré, GustaveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fowler, AlastairEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hawkes, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, Merritt YerkesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kastan, David ScottEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewalski, Barbara KieferEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mack, MaynardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pullman, PhilipIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wain, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
William G Madsensecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winterich, John T.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Vol. 1: "This authoritative text of the first edition of John Milton's Paradise lost transcribes the original 10-book poem, records its textual problems and numerous differences from the second edition, and discusses in critical commentary the importance of these issues"--Provided by publisher.Vol. 2: "Essays by ten Miltonists establish the significant differences in text, context, and effect of the first edition of Paradise lost (1667) from the now standard second edition (1674), examining in particular the original text's relationship to the literary and theological world it entered in 1667 and thus offering interesting correctives to our understanding of Milton's thought"--Provided by publisher.

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Poema che si propone la «giustificazione all'uomo delle azioni del Signore», Paradiso perduto usa la forma drammatica per dimostrare che Adamo ed Eva furono puniti perché peccarono, scegliendo deliberatamente il Male. Uniti nella colpa e nell'implacabile sentenza divina, furono cacciati dall'Eden sulla terra: un luogo ignoto nel quale sono destinati a vivere nell'infelicità. Pur nella drammaticità del tema, le pagine del Paradiso perduto vivono di delicatissime sfumature e di un senso idillico e musicale che ne fanno ancora oggi un'opera di straordinario fascino.
(piopas)
Haiku summary
Important epic
answering the big question:
"Do angels have sex?"
(LeBoeuf)

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