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Paradise Lost

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 20 Mar, 2009 09:17 am
Paradise Lost
John Milton
ISBN: 0-85229-163-9
Publisher: University of Chicago

OVERVIEW: Although Milton was born in 1608 in London's "cheapside" he eventually became a figure of great influence. Paradise Lost, written in 1663 was actually written after he'd been blinded. He'd think on what's to be said at night and dictate in the morning. This work is an epic poem of medieval christian orientation that narrates events of the Battle for Heaven (where Satan got his start) as well as Satan's eventual interference leading to Adam and Eve's banishment from the Garden of Eden. It's rich in glorious descriptions of divinity, grace, loyalty, and holiness. The poetry itself is not difficult to read, but a patient and steady mind is required to get the most out of it. It's a tad longer than most 'poems' we might think of (238 pages, standard hardback at small print) but well worth the read for anyone who has any interest for christian ideals of that period. It's set up in 12 'Books' (think of them as chapters).

PROS:

  • Very beautiful writing; nice flow
  • Linear description of events makes for easy understanding
  • A minimum of high-English terms makes for a smooth read
  • Vivid descriptions of the battle and scenery brings the story to life
  • Third-person narratives of the thoughts of characters (Lucifer, the Son, Raphael, Micheal) enamors the reader
  • Excellent personification of christianity's influence


CONS:

  • Some of the most-vivid and beautiful setting descriptions go on, and on, and on
  • The text is saturated with pagan references, "... like the glory of Jove", "... as much as Venus' beauty" [1]
  • After the fall, Michael imparts Adam with a long-string of visions of the future (all of which, by the time of this writing, have already taken place) that is extremely long-winded and adds little to the substance of the story.


HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Description of Adam and Even in Paradise prior to the fall (pp 158)
  • Adam and Eve as Husband and Wife - happiness in connubial love - before the fall (pp 168)
  • Eve's initial temptation from the Dream (pp 176)
  • Satan and Friends cast to Hell after the War (pp 215)
  • The Serpent confronts Eve (pp 259)
  • Adam takes a Bit (pp 269)
  • Adam and Eve in shame hide themselves (pp 271)
  • Adam lectures Eve on their Transgression (pp 293)


NOTABLE QUOTES:


  • Satan speaks to his masses after the banishment...

[INDENT][INDENT]"What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than hee
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence;
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n."
[/INDENT][/INDENT]
  • God the Father to Heaven's Hosts - How men shall know evil

[INDENT][INDENT]"Though but endevord with sincere intent,
Mine eare shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.
And I will place within them as a guide
My Umpire Conscience, whom if they will hear,
Light after light well us'd they shall attain"
[/INDENT][/INDENT]
  • Adam's Prayer to God after the fall, 'why me?!'

[INDENT][INDENT]"Did I request thee, Maker, from my Clay
To mould me Man, did I sollicite thee
From darkness to promote me, or here place
In this delicious Garden?...
Thy terms too hard, by which I was to hold
The good I sought not"

[/INDENT][/INDENT]MY RATING: 7.9

Links[INDENT]General Information and Texts of John Milton - Luminarium.org
Full text from the University of Virginia
Wikipedia Entry on Paradise Lost

[/INDENT][1] In fact, references to ancient Grecian gods often come in strings of 5, 10 or more in a single paragraph. Though descriptive and allegorical in nature, this contrast with the deep-seeded christian orientation of the text is striking.
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Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Mar, 2009 11:49 am
@Khethil,
One of the most stunning and masterful works of written English. I took a whole semester on Milton in college, and this remains one of the more flabbergastingly great works of literature I've ever read. Also in college I participated in an oral reading of Paradise Lost. It took 4 or 5 hours; but to apprehend it all in one stretch like that was fantastic.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 05:02 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
One of the most stunning and masterful works of written English. I took a whole semester on Milton in college, and this remains one of the more flabbergastingly great works of literature I've ever read. Also in college I participated in an oral reading of Paradise Lost. It took 4 or 5 hours; but to apprehend it all in one stretch like that was fantastic.


Yea, this was a bit of a surprise for me. I knew it'd be good, but was surprised how rich it was with metaphor and how well it flowed. Epic poems can often feel arcane or "too far removed" for good comprehension. This certainly wasn't the case.

Heck, the number of quotable, meaningful passages that stand alone well is quite impressive.

Thanks
xris
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 09:43 am
@Khethil,
like all old english it does require a certain ear and education.I find it bit relentless in it prose,i found not enough time to absorb it meaning while reading at a steady pace.Maybe its my ignorance rather the writing.
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Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Feb, 2010 12:03 am
@Khethil,
It's best lines are as good English poetry gets. Just an opinion.
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Mar, 2010 05:15 pm
@Khethil,
This is Hegelian Dialectic in a nutshell, except in Hegel the Devil hits bottom and is suddenly Christ..
Quote:

"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"

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