Paradise Lost (Dover Thrift Editions)

Milton’s great 17th-century epic draws upon Bible stories and classical mythology to explore the meaning of existence, as understood by people of the Western world. Its roots lie in the Genesis account of the world’s creation and the first humans; its focus is a poetic interpretation “Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit / Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste / Brought death into the world, and all our woe / With loss of Eden.”
In sublime poetry of extraordinary beauty, Milton’s poem references tales from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgil’s Aeneid. But one need not be a classical scholar to appreciate Paradise Lost. In addition to its imaginative use of language, the poem features a powerful and sympathetic portrait of Lucifer, the rebel angel who frequently outshines his moral superiors. With Milton’s deft use of irony, the devil makes evil appear good, just as satanic practices may seem attractive at first glance.
Paradise Lost has exercised enormous influence on generations of artists and their works, ranging from the Romantic poets William Blake and Percy Bysshe Shelley to Joseph Haydn’s oratorio The Creation and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (June 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048644287X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486442877
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (520 customer reviews)
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3 thoughts on “Paradise Lost (Dover Thrift Editions)”

  1. Paradise Lost was not part of my core curriculum in science and mathematics. I was of course aware that scholars considered it a great work, a classic. But it seemed a bit daunting – long, difficult, dated, and possibly no longer relevant.
    A few years ago I made two fortunate decisions. I elected to read Milton’s Paradise Lost and I bought the Norton Critical Edition (edited by Scott Elledge). I read and reread Paradise Lost over a period of three months as well as the 300 pages of the Norton critical commentary. I was stunned by the beauty and power of Milton. Why had I waited so long to even approach such a literary masterpiece?
    Make no mistake. I had been right in several ways. Paradise Lost is difficult, it is long, and full appreciation requires an understanding of the historical and religious context. But Paradise Lost is a remarkable achievement. It explores questions regarding man and God that are as relevant today as in the 17th century. And the genius of Milton has never been surpassed.
    I found the Norton footnotes extremely helpful – definitions for rare or archaic words and expressions, explanations of the historical context, and links to the critical commentary section. The footnotes are at the page bottom, making them readily accessible.
    The Norton biographical, historical, and literary commentaries were fascinating in their own right. I may well as spent as many hours reading commentary as with Paradise Lost itself.
    John Milton led a remarkable life. His enthusiastic euology on Shakespeare was included in the second folio edition of Shakespeare in 1632. This was Milton’s first public appearance as an author!Read more ›

  2. I have read “Paradise Lost” four times, and took no less than three semesters on it at university. This was the edition we used to work. Modernised spelling, coherent punctuation (plus variations of it in the notes), good introduction, and enormous work in the notes; this edition has all you need for a good reading of the epic poem.

    As to the poem itself, some people are hard on it for all the wrong reasons. Remember that it is a 17th century poem, that English was not exactly similar as it is today, and that there are many, many words which were first used in English in “Paradise Lost”. Milton was innovative with words, and he gave English new words, and expressions, such as the most famous “all Hell broke loose”, which was first uttered in “Paradise Lost”.

    A poem like this cannot be read without good notes, and this is what this edition has to offer. Notes aren’t enough, though, they have to be good, and in this edition, they are. The poem itself is not burdened by the numbers of the notes, because there are so many, the editor decided not to show them in the text per se, but at the end of the book, you will always have the reference, the lines, which the notes are about.

    As to the poem itself, if you don’t know it, you certainly know of the story of the Fall of Man, Adam and Eve, and the rebellion of Satan in Heaven. I’ll only say that Milton’s God is one seriously problematic figure in the poem, and that it caused centuries of academic discussion as to whether Milton’s God is a good God or a devilish one, whether “Paradise Lost” was truly a “myth”, in the old sense of a story which explains why we’re here and how it got to be, or whether it was an attack on Christianity. Scholars still discuss this today, so make your own mind if you can!

  3. I love Norton Critical Editions. Or I try to. Gordon Teskey’s new edition of Paradise Lost is for the most part worthy of the praise it has received in other reviews on this site. However, it has one unpardonable flaw, which is the editor’s tampering with Milton’s poetic line. Teskey and the Norton editors have for some reason decided to make it “easy to read” by adding parentheses to complex syntactical passages that Milton wrote on purpose to be. . . I dunno. . . hard? This move to simplify the syntax alters not only the experience of the poem but, worse, its meaning. Take for example these famous lines of Satan’s from Book I, the first words spoken in Hell:

    If thou beest he but O how fall’n! how changed

    From him who in the happy realms of light

    Clothed with transcendent brightness didst outshine

    Myriads, thought bright! if he whom mutual league,

    United thoughts and counsels, equal hope. . .

    The meaning of the lines is confusing because Satan himself is confused, and now speaking for the first time a fallen language. The “he” from line one gets dropped until line four, when Satan remembers what he’s talking about after wandering through a few memories of his life before the fall. The reader is supposed to feel the confusion and torment of this run-on sentence. But Teskey uses parentheses to clean up the very mess Milton wanted Satan to make of the sentence:

    If thou beest he (but O how fallen! how changed

    From him who in the happy realms of light

    Clothed with transcendent brightness didst outshine

    Myriads, though bright) if he whom. . .

    This effectively dumbs down the poem and drastically changes it. And there is way too much of it in this edition.Read more ›

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