13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2011
I have to confess that I'd twice started reading "Paradise Lost" and not got very far with it because of the density of the language (think Shakespeare, you'll not be far off). But the themes were so much of interest to me that I wanted to give it another go and thought that an edition with Dore's always amazing illustrations might do the trick.
And, lo, it came to pass. This time around I really got into it and the language didn't seem to be any problem at all. It's hard to think of much in English literature that can compete with the incredible war in Heaven and fall into Hell. The only thing I could compare it to would be "The Ramayana".
It's a fascinating piece of writing, it's chief interest to me being the way Satan's fall from grace is paralleled with the fall of Adam and Eve. Milton gives the good guys, God, his son, hosts of angels, all the magnificence and exaltation that one would expect, but Satan is a remarkable character and there's no doubt that he gets all the good lines. I'm sure that Milton regarded himself as a good Christian, but it's easy to see that the time of unquestioning loyalty to God was coming to an end.
So, it turns out to be the masterpiece that it's always held to be. And I echo my fellow reviewer in saying that this is a lovely edition, very well produced. Dore's engravings, fifty of them, are a thing of beauty.
Very highly recommended.
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2008
I had to read Paradise Lost for my University degree and I began reading a Penguin copy. I was bored stiff; although the text itself was as wonderful as one would expect of the epic to rule all epics, the font was small and it made difficult reading for my rather short-sighted eyes.
So I asked for the illustrated edition for Christmas, and this version is what I got and I am eternally grateful to my parent's for purchasing it for me, it's a thing of beauty.
The merits of Paradise Lost itself are well known - it's magnificently written, powerful and breathtaking throughout - so I will not repeat what has been said many times before and instead I will focus on the particulars of this particular edition.
The text itself is printed clearly and it is very easy to read, also, unlike the other edition I owned, there are speech marks indicating when characters are talking, a feature missing from my other copy. However, as another reviewer has mentioned, there are no notes and the lines are not numbered, except for a reference at the top of each page.
However, the best feature of this particular edition of Paradise Lost is the illustrations; they really bring every word to life. Milton describes events that are set on an incredible scale; he describes heaven, earth hell and what lies in between them. The illustrations by Gustave Doré - all fifty of them are here - visualize the imagery to perfection. The print quality of the illustrations is excellent, and the large size of the book ensures that they are exhibited as they deserve to be.
Paradise Lost deserves its status as one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written, and Gustave Doré deserves to be known as one of the most talented illustrators.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2010
This is not an exact or complete replica of the current Penguin Classics edition [ISBN 0-140-42439-3] Paradise Lost (Penguin Classics). Apart from the different cover and absent back cover, this Kindle mobi edition leaves out the following sections from the Penguin Classics edition: Introduction; Table of Dates; Further Reading; Note on the Text; Marvell 'On Paradise Lost'; and the detailed Notes section provided at the end of the Penguin Classics edition. The text of this edition also leaves out Milton's 'Argument's which precede each Book of Paradise Lost. Line numbers are omitted in the presentation of the text (compared with Penguin's which provides line numbers at intervals of 5 lines) - though one common fault of Kindle editions is that line numbers are usually jammed into the body of the text disruptively instead of being placed on hanging indents to the left of the column of verse. In the Penguin Classics printed edition the text has been partially modernized - spelling has been modernized, most capitals reduced [a word in all capitals is reduced to a capital for the first letter only, words whose first letters are capitalized are all in lower case], and most italics removed. This Kindle edition appears to retain the spelling and typographical stylistics of 17th century printed editions, though without any italicisation. My review evaluation of three stars represents the loss of the additional material present in the printed Penguin Classics edition, rather than value for money, which at 49p seems reasonable enough.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2002
Paradise Lost is undoubtedly one of the most influential literary masterpiece ever written. Love it or hate it, you cannot deny its importance. For most students of English literature, it is a must-read. The grandeur of Milton's style (which one may find baffling) and the seriousness of his moral message (which can often read like a sermon) have immortalised this epic poem about the fall of mankind.
However, for those who would read it, I would recommend the Norton Critical edition as *THE* edition to buy. Writing in the 17th century Augustan age, Milton is almost over fond of cramming his writing with classical and biblical references and allusions, which, if overlooked, may be substantially detrimental to one's appreciation of the text. This edition has comprehensive footnotes at the bottom of the page (excellent for those of you, who, like me, *HATE* having to turn to the back of the book to look up notes and references) as well as a good collection of supplementary essays by renowned critics.
All in all, a must-read for all those interested in serious literary pursuits (although you may come away with a headache). The difficulty of this work is partly overcome by this wonderfully propitious edition.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2010
I read this work as I followed Prof John Roger's excellent (and rather charming) online lectures from YaleOnline. I was doing this as a sort of self-educational duty. I am not a fan of Milton's (supposed) religious or political ideas so I had always avoided it in the past. I was also curious to investigate what people meant by Milton's poetical genius. Shakespeare still brings in the crowds to theatre, Mozart draws them in too, and also to the concert hall. Both of them manage crowds in Tokyo, so they must be speaking in some genious way a.cross centuries and across cultures. Milton (it seemed to me) existed in the Academy, but not obviously anywhere else. What were they on about?
I decided I would not be put off by Milton's massive Classical and Scriptural erudition. If I recognised the allusion, well and good, if not, I could survive. After all, Milton thought he knew his audience - an edition of his poem would have cost as much then as a laptop today - and he presumably needed to establish some sort of credibility as an epic writer. In fact, these allusions, when they are not (as they often are) common knowledge, do not hold up the narrative - you can usually sense the effect he was after. Slightly more of a problem was his often strange grammar - often used seemingly just to fit things into his metrical scheme. Sometimes you simply had not a clue what he could possibly be saying. But only sometimes, and rarely was this a big problem, if you let it roll over you.
The absolutely wonderful thing about this poem is the sustained, always puzzled, examination of what it meant to be a free human being, given the over-riding might of the Father. The parts - and there are many - where Milton departs from the biblical narrative and deals with the thoughts and relationships of Adam and Eve and their (always growing!) garden, their delights, their work, their obvious majesty and equality are mesmerising. Previously - part of the surprise is that it is not a linear narrative - similar thoughts and discussions between Satan and the fallen angel were (to me) much more plausible than the assertions of the Father and his sycophants. Of course, better critics than I could ever be have been amazed at the wonderful creation that Satan, his cohorts and their dominion. Similarly, I was very pro-Eve in the scene of the temptation and Fall. All of this was just great, as were the scenes of the defeat of the rebellious angels and its aftermath (I think I was on their side) and of Creation (the Son is a more sympathetic character than the Father). Of course, Milton frames all this dutifully with orthodox assertions about outrageous pride and wily serpents, but it is hard not to think you are sharing Milton's own sympathies. That is, until you get to the last two books - after the Fall. Then the Puritan Pastor Milton takes over (in the guise of an insufferable archangel Michael) to lecture us all on the consequences of the fall, but I doubt if anyone is fooled. Can you compare Eve's enterprise and curiousity driven minor fault with the rebellion of the angels? Well, the Father seems to think so - the horrors of history laid out by Michael are not far removed from the horrors of hell. But I could ramble - and rant - on. Milton does not manage to justify the ways of God to man (though, my God, what an ambition) but he writes an amazing epic in language which seems just to sing and sing. Stop at book 10, though
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
As Blake so rightly says, Milton's Satan is the true hero of PL - however unwittingly and however horrified Milton might have been to think it. Rebellious, over-reaching, full of pride and arrogance, he yet leaps off the page at us with his intelligence and his rhetoric and his plots.
In a way it's not that surprising: taking classical epic as his model, Milton creates an anti-hero in the mould of Achilles, also driven by pride and the urge to impose himself on his world. One of the many pleasures of Milton's great narrative poem is precisely the identifications of classical epic conventions and the innovative uses to which he puts them.
It seems it's not fashionable to read poetry these days, especially not narrative poetry (as opposed to `personal' lyric) but it's a huge shame to miss out on writing as thrilling as Milton's. With his great rolling sentences and complex diction it might take a little while to get into his rhythm but the effort is well worth it. From the opening scene where Satan and his minions are thrown out of heaven, to the quiet ending as Adam and Eve walk hand in hand away from Eden, Paradise Lost truly is a reading experience to savour.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2006
A wonderful book. This version is very good value, has nice big print, and has some interesting pictures. It is much less work to read with the larger print.
The drawbacks are that it is not very portable and that there are no footnotes, unlike the Oxford University Press edition.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2008
This is fine gift edition of Milton's biblical soap opera. Pullman's introductions to each of the books of the poem are infectiously enthusiastic and he largely succeeds in persuading us to put aside our struggles with the technical difficulties of Milton's language - suggesting instead that we embrace its phonological drama. The sense does largely follow the sound.
That said, the marked lack of scholarly notes makes this a bad choice for a newbie. Yes, it's nice to read the poem without constantly flicking back and forth looking for glosses on Milton's archaicisms and allusions, but realistically, any student is going to have to fork out on notes to plumb the text's true depths.
The book itself is beautifully presented and chock-full of glorious illustrations (I'd have liked to have seen Gustav Dore's though...) - so it will make a great gift for any lit-head. Older children coming here through 'His Dark Materials' may get the literature bug through this initial encounter, though an illustrated edition of Blake's 'Songs of Innocence and Experience' might be a safer bet.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2010
I'm sure the reviewers of other editions of this book have already said (more elegantly than I) how influential this work is. An epic poem that tells of the plight of the fallen angel Lucifer, the creation of Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man, Paradise Lost is drama on a grand scale; biblical, in all senses of the word. Lucifer is presented here as a true anti-hero, a noble rebel, a seductive character whom you find yourself cheering on as he fights to overthrow God himself. It is ambitious. It is a little blasphemous. And above all, it is beautifully written.
As a literature student, I owe a lot to the Norton Critical Edition folk. Their exhaustive compilation of essays, footnotes and references makes understanding the text easy and enjoyable. For instance, this copy of Paradise Lost contains not only a wealth of footnotes but a Glossary explaining every location mentioned by Milton, relevant sections from the Bible, a rich "Criticism" section that contains essays by the likes of Voltaire, Blake, Samuel Johnson, and T.S. Eliot as well as a short biography of Milton himself. It's all any student, scholar or book-lover needs.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2011
I am delighted with my copy of Milton's "Paradise Lost" ( I purchased at the same time Poe's "The Raven and other poems"). Both editions are illustrated by Gustave Dores stunningly beautiful engravings. I alrady have "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" by the same Arcturus publisher. These volumes are a joy to handle and read. They are beautifully produced, well bound, clearly printed and thoghtfully designed. The text is clear and of a generous size, printed on a good quality ivory coloured paper. I dont presume to comment on the timeless poetry contained in them, but I recommend them to all lovers of beautiful books