Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

John Milton's Paradise Lost is one of the greatest epic poems in the English language. It tells the story of the Fall of Man, a tale of immense drama and excitement, of rebellion and treachery, of innocence pitted against corruption, in which God and Satan fight a bitter battle for control of mankind's destiny. The struggle rages across three worlds - heaven, hell, and ear...

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Title:Paradise Lost
Author:John Milton
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Paradise Lost Reviews

  • Patrick Oden

    Portions of this book were assigned for my Brit Lit class. I read about half of the assigned portions. I was distracted at the time by various events in life and wasn't yet a very good student.

    My professor had done his PhD work on Milton and taught with a contagious passion. So much passion that I decided, after the discussion was over, to buy the whole book. During our five day Fall break in my sophomore year I sat on the front lawn of my college and read Paradise Lost. Nonstop, getting up for

    Portions of this book were assigned for my Brit Lit class. I read about half of the assigned portions. I was distracted at the time by various events in life and wasn't yet a very good student.

    My professor had done his PhD work on Milton and taught with a contagious passion. So much passion that I decided, after the discussion was over, to buy the whole book. During our five day Fall break in my sophomore year I sat on the front lawn of my college and read Paradise Lost. Nonstop, getting up for meals and other important breaks but otherwise spending that whole break reading Milton. Hardly anyone else remained on campus. The weather was cool and breezy and beautiful. I sat under a tree and read lengthy portions out loud, which helped me get into the rhythm. Once in the rhythm of reading I tasted heaven itself. This book was an awakening for me, a trigger that opened up my soul and allowed me to understand a small portion of eternity. It was an epiphany weekend for me, one which transformed my soul, and remains in many ways an anchor for my faith. During the dark times of my soul I remembered those days and knew, knew, knew there was something to still hope for.

    This is a hard read and one that likely requires a lot of space, quiet and time. It takes a while to get into his rhythm and finally dance with his words, but if you can, if you can get away from this world for a while and devote yourself to Milton's work you'll find a new reality opening up. The man saw heaven. The man knew God. His writing is genius and extraordinary, far beyond anything else I've ever read.

    This book, literally, changed my soul and my life.

  • Alex

    There's all this debate over why Satan is so appealing in Paradise Lost. Did Milton screw up? Is he being cynical, or a double-secret atheist? And why is God such a dick?

    But no one asks whether, say, Shakespeare screwed up in making Iago so much fun; they just give him credit for writing an awesome villain. And that's all Milton's doing. Satan is tempting for us because

    That's the point of Satan! If Milton didn't make him as appealing as possible, he'd be doing Satan a

    There's all this debate over why Satan is so appealing in Paradise Lost. Did Milton screw up? Is he being cynical, or a double-secret atheist? And why is God such a dick?

    But no one asks whether, say, Shakespeare screwed up in making Iago so much fun; they just give him credit for writing an awesome villain. And that's all Milton's doing. Satan is tempting for us because

    That's the point of Satan! If Milton didn't make him as appealing as possible, he'd be doing Satan a disservice. And Eve, for that matter.

    Similarly, God's a dick because God's a dick. You've read the Old Testament. He's not exactly all flowers and hugs there either. Again, Milton's just being true to his characters, and writing a great story while he's at it.

    There’s slightly more to it than that, yeah. For example: it's hinted a little that God sets Satan up to fall. He gives a stern warning that anyone who disobeys him or his son will be cast out of Heaven. But since there's no sin or evil at the time of his speech, why give the warning? Isn't that like saying "Don't touch these cookies while I'm gone" to a kid who didn't realize there were cookies until you pointed them out?

    Here’s my advice to people considering reading Paradise Lost: read the first two books. It starts with a bang, and it’s pretty amazing for a while. It slows down a bit in books III - VII, so if you’re not totally sold in the first two books (I was), you can either quit altogether with a fair idea of what Milton sounds like, or skip to books IX and X. IX is the actual temptation and fall (especially fun if you’re a misogynist), and X is an astonishing sequence where Adam and Eve contemplate suicide:

    "Why am I mocked with death, and lengthened out

    To deathless pain? How gladly would I meet

    Mortality my sentence...

    his dreadful voice no more

    Would thunder in my ears." (Adam, X.774 - 780)

    “We’ve totally mucked this up, and our kids are gonna justifiably hate us because we got kicked out of Paradise, and maybe we should just quit while we’re behind.”

    But really, the whole thing is worth it. Took me a while – it’s intense stuff, so I found that I had to read a book and then chew on it for a while to process it before moving to the next one – but it’s

    In book VIII, if you’re cosmologically minded, Milton lays out the whole universe. Like Giordano Bruno, he understands that our earth is a tiny speck in the universe, and he gets that all the stars are suns like ours, and therefore could have planets like ours around them. He also thinks they might be inhabited; our species might not be God's only experiment. Elsewhere, other Adams and Eves may have faced the same test of the Tree of Knowledge - and they might have passed it. Isn't that an amazing thought?

    In books XI and XII, Michael tells Adam sortof all the rest of the stories in the Old Testament, which of course boil down to:

    “So shall the world go on,

    To good malignant, to bad men benign,

    Under her own weight groaning.” (XII 537 – 539)

    That’s your fault there, Adam. Nice work.

    He rushes through them though, and it makes me wonder whether Milton had originally intended to retell the entire Old Testament but got bored or intimidated or something. That would’ve been remarkable. Certainly Paradise Lost is better literature than the Old Testament is, and significantly more coherent.

    It's also better literature than almost everything else. Second-best poem by a blind guy ever.

  • Lyn

    When I think of Milton's epic poem about Satan and his fall from grace, I most frequently think of two anecdotes apart from the actual work, brilliant and a foundation of modern literature as it is.

    First, I recall the scene from Animal House, when Donald Sutherland begins a smarmy, condescendingly pretentious question to his class about Milton's intentions for introducing Satan as such an interesting character, punctuating the delivery with a crisp bite of his apple. As the bell rings and the cl

    When I think of Milton's epic poem about Satan and his fall from grace, I most frequently think of two anecdotes apart from the actual work, brilliant and a foundation of modern literature as it is.

    First, I recall the scene from Animal House, when Donald Sutherland begins a smarmy, condescendingly pretentious question to his class about Milton's intentions for introducing Satan as such an interesting character, punctuating the delivery with a crisp bite of his apple. As the bell rings and the class dutifully escapes from his lecture, he deflates and mutters about how boring it all is.

    Secondly, I recall a misadventure I had in college. At the time I was an honors English student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, back in the post ice age times of the late eighties. I unslung my Civil War musket and headed to class, knowing that I had been guilty of aggravated student procrastination. Due that very morning was a paper (we actually used to physically write out essays back then, with pen or pencil and on an essay book) and my very ambitious subject was a comparison between the literary styles of epic and tragedy, and using as examples Milton's Paradise Lost and Shakespeare's King Lear. Not only was the paper not done, but I had not completely read either work!

    I jaunted into class with the intention of asking for a couple of days extra, to "clean up my notes". My professor, who up to that time had been a model of undergraduate cool, now turned authoritarian and replied, "no" it was due no later than the end of the day. I could drop it off at her office by four pm.

    Keeping my cool, I just had to tidy up the final draft after all, I walked out of class, down the hall, and then broke into a loping, lycanthropic run for my room. To this day, almost thirty years later, I can remember the soul crushing dread of sitting down and staring at my painfully scanty notes.

    Well, sports fans, I turned in one for the ages, slinging more excrement than a West Texas cow rancher in springtime. Not only were Milton and Shakespeare comparable, they were best mates, tennis doubles partners and drinking buddies. The two works were like Forrest and Jenny, peas and carrots.

    B minus.

  • Meg

    in middle school i had seen this book lying around the house and for some reason it struck me as very impressive. i didn't ever want to read it but i wanted to give off the impression that i was the type of person who would read it. i did this with a few other books too (catcher in the rye,

    , ect.) i carried it to school so that teachers would see it in my possession and prominently displayed it on my bedside table to let friends and family know.

    after actually reading the book for a

    in middle school i had seen this book lying around the house and for some reason it struck me as very impressive. i didn't ever want to read it but i wanted to give off the impression that i was the type of person who would read it. i did this with a few other books too (catcher in the rye,

    , ect.) i carried it to school so that teachers would see it in my possession and prominently displayed it on my bedside table to let friends and family know.

    after actually reading the book for a brit-lit class i realized how wrong my thirteen-year-old self was with the image i assumed i was portraying. most likely people realized that i was desperate for attention and for some strange reason was using john milton to get it, but on the off chance they did believe i was 'into' paradise lost, i must have seemed like a total psycho. the book is about a war waged in hell after satan's fall into the underworld. all of the descriptions are completely graphic and grotesque. i think i blocked a lot out but i do remember a female demon who is repeatedly raped by her sons immediately after giving birth to them. yuck. thank god i realized later that the best way to get attention is through cigarettes and promiscuity not literature.

  • Natalie Monroe

    Fuck your misogyny. Fuck your scorning Greek gods as false gods, then using its mythology left and right as metaphors. Fuck your punishing the serpent when You knew it was possessed by Satan. Fuck—Ah, forget it.

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