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Paradise Lost by John Milton

Paradise Lost (original 1667; edition 2005)

by John Milton

Series: Milton's Paradise (1)

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13,894112420 (3.99)6 / 390
Classic Literature. Fiction. Poetry. HTML:

Often considered the greatest epic in any modern language, Paradise Lost tells the story of the revolt of Satan, his banishment from Heaven, and the ensuing fall of Man with his expulsion from Eden. It is a tale of immense drama and excitement, of innocence pitted against corruption, of rebellion and treachery, in which God and Satan fight a bitter battle for control of mankind's destiny. The struggle ranges across heaven, hell, and earth, as Satan and his band of rebel angels conspire against God. At the center of the conflict are Adam and Eve, motivated by all too human temptations, but whose ultimate downfall is unyielding love.

Written in blank verse of unsurpassed majesty, Paradise Lost is the work of a mastermind involved in a profound search for truth.

… (more)
Title:Paradise Lost
Authors:John Milton
Info:Hackett Publishing Company (2005), Paperback, 427 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

Paradise Lost by John Milton (1667)

  1. 80
    The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (Voracious_Reader)
  2. 31
    His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (Jannes)
    Jannes: Looking for a children's series ispired by Milton, you say? Well then, look no further!
  3. 10
    Cain by Lord Byron (FFortuna)
AP Lit (74)
My List (16)

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Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
I read this as part of what I call "a Book Challenge". I found people to read this with my daughter Diana and my son's girlfriend Maggie. It was interesting to hear their opinions about the book.
In preparation, we listened to several podcasts about the life of Milton. (The History of Literature: episodes 154, 376, and 484.) We learned that he was blind at the time he decided to write Paradise Lost- so he actually dictated the books to an assistant.
We decided that it would be best to read or listen to 2 Books at a time (there are 12). Then discuss them.

So Milton was influenced by his time- the beliefs, the social mores, the politics. Even so, we were able to discuss the plot points and quotations that interested us. Our discussions became very philosophical. We often mused whether we were projecting our modern beliefs on Milton's writing. As we were all raised Catholic, we also discussed religious influences as well as our interpretations of what was written as compared to what is in the religious texts. It became very metacognitive at times!

Some quotes we discussed:
"Better to reign in hell than serve in Heaven."

"The mind is its own place and in itself
Can make a Heaven of hell, and a hell of Heaven."

"Nor love thy life nor hate, but what thou liv'st
Live well- how long or short permit to Heaven."

It is worth reading. It becomes much more enjoyable to have a small group to encourage each other and to discuss the interesting ideas within the book. As a final enrichment, we all listened to the podcast "This American Life", episode 666- "The Theme that Shall not be Named" which is about
Satan! In his many surprising manifestations, all around us. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
Typically I am a purist in that I first read through material that I consider to be dense, then consult other sources to comprehend the material. After reading book 1. I think it advisable to do some background research before starting new books in PL. It is a bitter pill for me to swallow, but I think it is practical in this situation. Miltoning..

Using the version edited by Barbara Lewalski- on line . . Have a library loan NSE 3d? edition, and bought a personal copy of 2d edition from ebay.

Dartmouth edu has excellent cross referenced hyperlinks

Satan is a fascinating character with all his emotional conflicts, but he is much less prominent in the last few chapters.

God is also an interesting character w a rather non chalant? attitude toward his creations.

ix 232= Milton talking smack about females. Says woman's place is in the home basically. Book 9 is disturbing on many levels

chap x definite misogeny? regarding Eve

Finished the poem just short of 8 weeks. NCE #3 is invaluable in this endeavor. Really liked the CS Lewis essays in NCE ( )
  delta351 | Jan 20, 2024 |
an inhuman amount of effort complexity and loftiness all for ideological fisticuffs in the most banal areas of thought during a period of near-total intellectual bankruptcy: theology and politics in the 17th century. cannot pretend to be interested in discussion of this one ( )
  windowlight | Jan 11, 2024 |
"O how unlike the place from whence they fell!" (Book 1)

"All is not lost; the unconquerable will, and study of revenge, immortal hate, and courage never to submit or yield: and what is else not to be overcome?" (Book 1)

"The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n. What matter where, if i be still the same, and what I should be, all but less than he Whom thunder hath made greater?" (Book 1)

"Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n" (Book 1)

"Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n" (Book 1)

"Of Baalim and Ashtaroth, those male, these feminine. For spirits when they please can either sex assume, or both; so soft and uncompounded is their essence pure"

"Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest spirit that fought in Heav'n, now fiercer by despair. His trust was with th' Eternal to be deemed equal in strength, and rather than be less Cared not to be at all; with that care lost went all his fear: of God, or Hell, or worse he reck'd not, and these words thereafter spake." (Book II)

"We overpower? Suppose he should relent and publish grace to all, on promise made of new subjection; with what eyes could we stand in his presence humble, and receive strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne with warbled hymns, and to his Godhead sing force hallelujahs; while he lordly sits our envied sov'reign, and his altar breathes ambrosial odors and ambrosial flowers, our servile offerings. This must be our task in heav'n, this our delight; how wearisome eternity so spent in worship paid to whom we hate. Let us not then pursue by force impossible, by leave obtained unacceptable, though in heav'n, our state of splendid vassalage, but rather seek our own good from our selves, and from our own live to our selves, though in this vast recess, free, and to none accountable, preferring hard liberty before the easy yoke of servile pomp."

"And man there placed, with purpose to assay
If him by force he can destroy, or worse,
By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert;
For man will hearken to his glozing lies,
And easily transgress the sole command,
Sole pledge of his obedience: so will fall
He and his faithless progeny: whose fault?
Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me
All he could have; I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.
Such I created all th’ ethereal Powers
And spirits, both them who stood and them who failed;
Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have giv’n sincere
Of true allegiance, constant faith or love,
Where only what they needs must do, appeared,
Not what they would? What praise could they receive?
What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When will and reason (reason also is choice)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoiled,
Made passive both, had served necessity,
Not me. They therefore as to right belonged,
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Their Maker, or their making, or their fate,
As if predestination overruled
Their will, disposed by absolute decree
Or high foreknowledge; they themselves decreed
Their own revolt, not I: if I foreknew,
Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,
Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.
So without least impulse or shadow of fate,
Or aught by me immutably foreseen,
They trespass, authors to themselves in all
Both what they judge and what they choose; for so
I formed them free, and free they must remain,
Till they enthrall themselves: I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordained
Their freedom; they themselves ordained their fall.
The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self-depraved: man falls deceived
By the other first: man therefore shall find grace,
The other none: in mercy and justice both,
Through Heav’n and Earth, so shall my glory excel,
But mercy first and last shall brightest shine.”" (Book III)

"“O thou that with surpassing glory crowned,
Look’st from thy sole dominion like the God
Of this new world; at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminished heads; to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name
O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere;
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down
Warring in Heav’n against Heav’n’s matchless King:
Ah wherefore! He deserved no such return
From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.
What could be less than to afford him praise,
The easiest recompense, and pay him thanks,
How due! Yet all his good proved ill in me,
And wrought but malice; lifted up so high
I ‘sdained subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burdensome still paying, still to owe;
Forgetful what from him I still received,
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharged; what burden then?
O had his powerful destiny ordained
Me some inferior angel, I had stood
Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised
Ambition. Yet why not? Some other power
As great might have aspired, and me though mean
Drawn to his part; but other powers as great
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within
Or from without, to all temptations armed.
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?
Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse,
But Heav’n’s free love dealt equally to all?
Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay cursed be thou; since against his thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable! Which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And in the lowest deep a lower deep
Still threat’ning to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heav’n.
O then at last relent: is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left?
None left but by submission; and that word
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the spirits beneath, whom I seduced
With other promises and other vaunts
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
Th’ Omnipotent. Ay me, they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan;
While they adore me on the throne of Hell,
With diadem and scepter high advanced
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery; such joy ambition finds.
But say I could repent and could obtain
By act of grace my former state; how soon
Would highth recall high thoughts, how soon unsay
What feigned submission swore: ease would recant
Vows made in pain, as violent and void.
For never can true reconcilement grow
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep:
Which would but lead me to a worse relapse
And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear
Short intermission bought with double smart.
This knows my punisher; therefore as far
From granting he, as I from begging peace:
All hope excluded thus, behold instead
Of us outcast, exiled, his new delight,
Mankind created, and for him this world.
So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear,
Farewell remorse: all good to me is lost;
Evil be thou my good; by thee at least
Divided Empire with Heav’n’s King I hold
By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;
As man ere long, and this new world shall know.” (Book IV)

"For man to tell how human life began is hard, for who himself beginning knew?" (Book VIII)

“O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving plant,
Mother of science, now I feel thy power
Within me clear, not only to discern
Things in their causes, but to trace the ways
Of highest agents, deemed however wise.
Queen of this universe, do not believe
Those rigid threats of death; ye shall not die:
How should ye? By the fruit? It gives you life
To knowledge. By the threat’ner? Look on me,
Me who have touched and tasted, yet both live,
life more perfect have attained than fate
Meant me, by vent’ring higher than my lot.
Shall that be shut to man, which to the beast
Is open? Or will God incense his ire
For such a petty trespass, and not praise
Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain
Of death denounced, whatever thing death be,
Deterred not from achieving what might lead
To happier life, knowledge of good and evil;
Of good, how just? Of evil, if what is evil
Be real, why not known, since easier shunned?
God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;
Not just, not God; not feared then, nor obeyed:
Your fear itself of death removes the fear.
Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe,
Why but to keep ye low and ignorant,
His worshipers; he knows that in the day
Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,
Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then
Opened and cleared, and ye shall be as gods,
Knowing both good and evil as they know.
That ye should be as gods, since I as man,
Internal man, is but proportion meet,
I of brute human, ye of human gods.
So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off
Human, to put on gods, death to be wished,
Though threatened, which no worse than this can bring.
And what are gods that man may not become
As they, participating godlike food?
The gods are first, and that advantage use
On our belief, that all from them proceeds;
I question it, for this fair Earth I see,
Warmed by the sun, producing every kind,
Them nothing: if they all things722, who enclosed
Knowledge of good and evil in this Tree,
That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains
Wisdom without their leave? And wherein lies
Th’ offense, that man should thus attain to know?
What can your knowledge hurt him, or this Tree
Impart against his will if all be his?
Or is it envy, and can envy dwell
In Heav’nly breasts? These, these and many more
Causes import your need of this fair fruit.
Goddess humane732, reach then, and freely taste.” (Book IX)

"For us alone was death invented?" (Book IX)

"Can thus th' image of God in man created on so goodly and erect, though faulty since, to such unsightly sufferings be debased under inhuman pains? Why should not man, retaining still divine simiitude in part, from such deformities be free, and or his maker's image sake exempt?" ( )
  Moshepit20 | Oct 31, 2023 |
Paradise Lost is a unique piece of poetry from many, many centuries ago. It's the retelling of the classic bible story of creation, God, Satan, Adam and Eve. I had to read a select few of the stories for a British Literature class, so I had the opportunity to delve into this book.

This is definitely one of the greatest narrative poetry collections. John Milton's writing has a unique perspective the Bible, and it was really cool to read it. It's definitely a hard read and I recommend listening (or reading!) some professional takes on this work. It makes the poems SO much cooler. It'll take weeks to read through this collection and to understand it, it may take a bit longer. Even though it's a challenge, it's worth it. It's a unique and interesting set of poems that is so beautifully written. It's a beautiful piece of art.

I really liked Paradise Lost Book 9 - Adam and Eve's story. I had the opportunity to spend weeks analyzing this piece, so it sits warmly in my heart. Is Milton blaming Adam? Eve? Satan? God? You decide, but I think he blames God. If God has a plan for everything, why did he plan for the two to be split up and Satan suddenly arrive? Why didn't anyone remind Adam and Eve not to talk to scary, talking snakes? Where did Gabriel run away to?! There's so many questions, and the beauty of the writing and take on the story is just magnificent.

Four out of five stars.

( )
  Briars_Reviews | Aug 4, 2023 |
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» Add other authors (100 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Miltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ackroyd, PeterPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bengtsson, Frans G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bentley, RichardEditorsecondary 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
Ricks, ChristopherEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verstegen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wain, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
William G Madsensecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winterich, John T.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Three poets, in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England did adorn.
The first in loftiness of thought surpassed;
The next in majesty; in both the last.
The force of nature could no further go:
To make a third she joined the former two.
— John Dryden (added to frontispiece of the fourth edition, 1688)
First words
Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Classic Literature. Fiction. Poetry. HTML:

Often considered the greatest epic in any modern language, Paradise Lost tells the story of the revolt of Satan, his banishment from Heaven, and the ensuing fall of Man with his expulsion from Eden. It is a tale of immense drama and excitement, of innocence pitted against corruption, of rebellion and treachery, in which God and Satan fight a bitter battle for control of mankind's destiny. The struggle ranges across heaven, hell, and earth, as Satan and his band of rebel angels conspire against God. At the center of the conflict are Adam and Eve, motivated by all too human temptations, but whose ultimate downfall is unyielding love.

Written in blank verse of unsurpassed majesty, Paradise Lost is the work of a mastermind involved in a profound search for truth.


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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.
Haiku summary
Important epic
answering the big question:
"Do angels have sex?"

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