Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars60
4.3 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£4.49+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

HALL OF FAMEon 27 May 2005
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, till on greater Man
Restore us and regain the blissful seat
Sing, Heavenly Muse...
Not a lot people know that 'Paradise Lost' has as a much lesser known companion piece 'Paradise Regained'; of course, it was true during Milton's time as it is today that the more harrowing and juicy the story, the better it will likely be remembered and received.
This is not to cast any aspersion on this great poem, however. It has been called, with some justification, the greatest English epic poem. The line above, the first lines of the first book of the poem, is typical of the style throughout the epic, in vocabulary and syntax, in allusiveness. The word order tends toward the Latinate, with the object coming first and the verb coming after.
Milton follows many classical examples by personifying characters such as Death, Chaos, Mammon, and Sin. These characters interact with the more traditional Christian characters of Adam, Eve, Satan, various angels, and God. He takes as his basis the basic biblical text of the creation and fall of humanity (thus, 'Paradise Lost'), which has taken such hold in the English-speaking world that many images have attained in the popular mind an almost biblical truth to them (in much the same way that popular images of Hell owe much to Dante's Inferno). The text of Genesis was very much in vogue in the mid-1600s (much as it is today) and Paradise Lost attained an almost instant acclaim.
John Milton was an English cleric, a protestant who nonetheless had a great affinity for catholic Italy, and this duality of interests shows in much of his creative writing as well as his religious tracts. Milton was nicknamed 'the divorcer' in his early career for writing a pamphlet that supported various civil liberties, including the right to obtain a civil divorce on the grounds of incompatibility, a very unpopular view for the day. Milton held a diplomatic post under the Commonwealth, and wrote defenses of the governments action, including the right of people to depose and dispose of a bad king.
Paradise Lost has a certain oral-epic quality to it, and for good reason. Milton lost his eyesight in 1652, and thus had to dictate the poem to several different assistants. Though influenced heavily by the likes of Virgil, Homer, and Dante, he differentiated himself in style and substance by concentrating on more humanist elements.
Say first -- for Heaven hides nothing from thy view,
Nor the deep tract of Hell -- say first what cause
Moved our grand Parents, in that happy state,
Favoured of Heaven so highly, to fall off
From their Creator and transgress his will,
For one restraint, lords of the world besides?
Milton drops us from the beginning into the midst of the action, for the story is well known already, and proceeds during the course of the books (Milton's original had 10, but the traditional epic had 12 books, so some editions broke books VII and X into two books each) to both push the action forward and to give developing background -- how Satan came to be in Hell, after the war in heaven a description that includes perhaps the currently-most-famous line:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in hell:
Better to reign in hell, that serve in heav'n.
(Impress your friends by knowing that this comes from Book I, lines 261-263 of Paradise Lost, rather than a Star Trek episode!)
The imagery of warfare and ambition in the angels, God's wisdom and power and wrath, the very human characterisations of Adam and Eve, and the development beyond Eden make a very compelling story, done with such grace of language that makes this a true classic for the ages. The magnificence of creation, the darkness and empty despair of hell, the manipulativeness of evil and the corruptible innocence of humanity all come through as classic themes. The final books of the epic recount a history of humanity, now sinful, as Paradise has been lost, a history in tune with typical Renaissance renderings, which also, in Milton's religious convictions, will lead to the eventual destruction of this world and a new creation.
A great work that takes some effort to comprehend, but yields great rewards for those who stay the course.
0Comment|40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 May 2012
Writing Paradise Lost in the wake of the Restoration, Milton the Puritan was really in dire straits. Having been an outspoken advocate of the regicide during the Commonwealth as Latin Secretary, a key figure in Cromwell's propaganda team, he was only spared execution because of the intervention of powerful friends, among them the poet and Milton's former amanuensis Andrew Marvell, and also his blindness was considered punishment enough. For Milton, then, to write such a daring, innovative, and provocative masterpiece, a scathing satire which is at times heretical, truly attests to the courage of this great spirit. If he had not been spared we would have been denied arguably the greatest poem written in English.

The poem operates on so many levels, all of them subtly ambiguous. Milton deftly plays with the classical epic form to produce a Christian epic depicting the Fall of Man that demonstrates his profound erudition. He combines the best of Christian philosophy with his own controversial religious views in order to "justify the ways of God to men" in a comprehensive spiritual worldview. However, religion is not the only subject here. Paradise Lost is also a skilful satire on the politics of the Revolution and Milton's experience of defeat. There is a millenarian history of the future in which the Archangel Michael describes to Adam the fate of his descendants, how the first tyrant, Nimrod, arose, and how Christ will deliver salvation. He also exemplifies the Renaissance man's understanding of the cumulative knowledge of society. The cosmos of the poem is subscribed to neither the classical natural philosophy of the Ptolemaic system or the new rational scientific understanding of Galileo (whom Milton met whilst he was imprisoned in Florence) and Copernicus. He even suggests the possibility that aliens exist! It is also extremely incisive in terms of psychology and the Puritan spiritual experience: "The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n".

The language is heavily Latinate, with long sentences containing multiple clauses, and incorporates many new Latinate and Greek words into English, often for the first time, as well as resurrecting many English words that were obsolete even in Milton's own time. The poetry nevertheless is very rythmical and the verve is exceptional. It is divine poetry, maybe even divinely inspired, as Milton's nephew John Phillips described how Milton would wake up in the morning with verses already composed in his head. At all times Milton observes what he saw as the principle of all good poetry - decorum, the appropriateness of the language for the subject, which in this case is as high as it gets. And refreshingly for a Renaissance poem of this length, Paradise Lost does not rely in the slightest on conceits or conventions, but instead highly creative and original uses of language and combinations of words and concepts.

Possibly the best thing about the narrative itself is the character of Satan, who really is the main protagonist. From the time he rises from the Lake of Fire till his Pyrrhic victory over mankind, his pride and pathos make him admirable and hard to hate outright. His remorse, longing, and ultimate resolution to rebel is described with such breathtaking virtuosity of rhetoric it makes him one of the great inventions of literature. Indeed, so sympathetic was Milton's portrayal of Satan, he is the most human character in the poem, which led Blake to comment wryly that Milton was of Satan's party without knowing it - but that this was the reason he was a great poet. Milton in his magnanimity is able to view all sides of an argument, but ultimately he makes his own decision about what is right and sticks by his guns till the death.
22 comments|8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 December 2002
John Milton's epic tale that aimed to "justify the ways of God to man" written at the end of his life when he was embittered by the loss of his sight in service of the Commonwealth which he felt had been betrayed by the English people and their reinstatement of Charles II as the king of England.
The book details Satan's escape from Hell and his temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden. At once heroic and even occasionally sympathetic the descriptions of Satan's exploits are marvelous examples of poetic genious. Milton also addresses the question of how Eve falls if she is perfect (as God created her) without prtraying her as vain or self obsessed as many artists have done (since these traits are those of a fallen human not a perfect one).
This book is a must, enjoyable for anyone with an interest in reading good challenging literature, and giving the reader an insight into the complicated issues that have troubled religious thinkers through the ages. On top of it all it is a cracking read.
0Comment|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 March 2013
Let's just start with the obvious. This an awesome (and I use that word advisedly) poem.

Turning to this edition specifically (and really it deserves 4.5 stars).

Positives:
1. The 'translation' is very good and gets over the rather 'haphazard' spelling (and to be fair there was no standard spelling in those days) of the original.
2. Also this is a nicely produced book with a good clear font making it easy to read with many helpful notes.
3. Good brief introduction.
4. It's very affordable!

Minus points (to be fair none is major):
1. at times rather banal/obvious notes eg just opening the book randomly I found the following:
- p.139 'unsucceeded - eternal, with no successor', p40 'want - lacking', p. 183 'end - both completion & object'
and I could give many more. Now many of the notes are very useful and interesting but when you're reading the poem seeing a note and then reading the obvious is irritating. I just think "you interrupted the flow to tell me that!".
2. In the introduction there is a tendency to over emphasise Milton's non-conformist even unorthodox stance. While that may be true (and I'm no Milton scholar) this is not so relevant for the poem itself which is basically & surprisingly orthodox. It leaves me wondering 'what's the beef' here?
3. Finally a very, very subjective comment but ... 'I hate the cover art'. Given the great art this poem has inspired, just think Blake or Dore, why choose 'that' but I suspect others will disagree and that's fine.

Overall
A 'good buy' especially if you want to carry it round/take it on holiday and just enjoy the glory of Milton's vision and verse.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 December 2013
Here we have a rare example of a publisher clearly in love with their product. One of the English language's most lavish and treasured works by a legend at the height of his literary powers is given an edition that equals the heights achieved by the verse within. Not only are we treated to full page renditions of Doré's original engravings, but the typography breathes life into the stanzas that stand proud and open on wide cream pages. The cover, unflinching and regal in its pomp, perfectly echoes Milton's titanic ambitions. And the whole presented in a luxurious slip case. This is an ideal gift, and nothing less than a gesture of love to the genre.
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 28 January 2010
As an A level teacher of twenty years' standing who remembers the first thrill of discovering Milton as an undergraduate, I was today appalled when I received this... pamphlet? Leaflet? Over-priced, it is nonetheless a cheap and nasty A5 booklet in the worst quality paper with a cover about as inviting as a microwave instruction booklet. (No; I take that back: modern marketing wouldn't allow any electrical goods to be as undersold as England's greatest epic poet.) With heavy heart, I recalled the pleasure of purchasing my big Longman annotated edition and thought, "Has it come to this?" Book One of this majestic work is reduced to 26 pages of text sandwiched by stuff like "How to pass the exam" and "Assessment Objectives". OK; the notes and textual annotations are useful and I can well imagine the beleaguered A level student or the inexperienced NQT with a DWM poetry phobia seizing upon it gratefully, but what about the teacher who wishes to instil in his students his same admiration for the Miltonic mighty line? It's so functional, dispiriting and anti-educational that it sets my teeth on edge and neatly encapsulates everything utilitarian and Philistine about the current educational Zeitgeist. I'll do my best to counteract its subliminal message, but every time I pick up this mini-travesty I'll feel less like an educator and more like a purveyor of self-help manuals. Anyone for "How to Pass A level in Three Easy Steps" or "Literature Without Tears"? Milton must be spinning like a top in his grave.
22 comments|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 March 2006
Writing Paradise Lost in the wake of the Restoration, Milton the Puritan was really in dire straits. Having been an outspoken advocate of the regicide during the Commonwealth as Latin Secretary, a key figure in Cromwell's propaganda team, he was only spared execution because of the intervention of powerful friends, among them the poet and Milton's former amanuensis Andrew Marvell, and also his blindness was considered punishment enough. For Milton, then, to write such a daring, innovative, and provocative masterpiece, a scathing satire which is at times heretical, truly attests to the courage of this great spirit. If he had not been spared we would have been denied arguably the greatest poem written in English.

The poem operates on so many levels, all of them subtly ambiguous. Milton deftly plays with the classical epic form to produce a Christian epic depicting the Fall of Man that demonstrates his profound erudition. He combines the best of Christian philosophy with his own controversial religious views in order to "justify the ways of God to men" in a comprehensive spiritual worldview. However, religion is not the only subject here. Paradise Lost is also a skilful satire on the politics of the Revolution and Milton's experience of defeat. There is a millenarian history of the future in which the Archangel Michael describes to Adam the fate of his descendants, how the first tyrant, Nimrod, arose, and how Christ will deliver salvation. He also exemplifies the Renaissance man's understanding of the cumulative knowledge of society. The cosmos of the poem is subscribed to neither the classical natural philosophy of the Ptolemaic system or the new rational scientific understanding of Galileo (whom Milton met whilst he was imprisoned in Florence) and Copernicus. He even suggests the possibility that aliens exist! It is also extremely incisive in terms of psychology and the Puritan spiritual experience: "The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n".

The language is heavily Latinate, with long sentences containing multiple clauses, and incorporates many new Latinate and Greek words into English, often for the first time, as well as resurrecting many English words that were obsolete even in Milton's own time. The poetry nevertheless is very rythmical and the verve is exceptional. It is divine poetry, maybe even divinely inspired, as Milton's nephew John Phillips described how Milton would wake up in the morning with verses already composed in his head. At all times Milton observes what he saw as the principle of all good poetry - decorum, the appropriateness of the language for the subject, which in this case is as high as it gets. And refreshingly for a Renaissance poem of this length, Paradise Lost does not rely in the slightest on conceits or conventions, but instead highly creative and original uses of language and combinations of words and concepts.

Possibly the best thing about the narrative itself is the character of Satan, who really is the main protagonist. From the time he rises from the Lake of Fire till his Pyrrhic victory over mankind, his pride and pathos make him admirable and hard to hate outright. His remorse, longing, and ultimate resolution to rebel is described with such breathtaking virtuosity of rhetoric it makes him one of the great inventions of literature. Indeed, so sympathetic was Milton's portrayal of Satan, he is the most human character in the poem, which led Blake to comment wryly that Milton was of Satan's party without knowing it - but that this was the reason he was a great poet. Milton in his magnanimity is able to view all sides of an argument, but ultimately he makes his own decision about what is right and sticks by his guns till the death.
22 comments|31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 February 2014
The illustrations are superb and match the text wonderfully. It's easier than you might think to read the text without any explanation or glossary - you just have to go with the flow and accept that you won't know all the words and most of the classical allusions will remain obscure. It's a great story told in verse that is like strange music.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 27 February 2011
This edition of paradise lost is perfect - especially if studying it for your degree.
footnotes throughout help you to understand and also give further insight into the context of the poem.
0Comment|12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 August 2009
Paradise Lost (Oxford World's Classics)

Many people have a 'Greatest Books I've Never Read' List. Included on that list could well be Milton's great work.

There is no doubt that it can be daunting to see those pages of finely printed epic poetry, scattered with 17th Century word usage and Classical, Mythological and Biblical allusions.

We may even have started on Book 1, and 'fallen at the first fence', never to rise and canter on! What is needed is a clearly printed version, with helpful introduction, and (most importantly) copious on-page footnotes to enlighten and instruct. This is just such a version, and can be highly recommended.

Tick this classic text off your List! Milton, you can be living at this hour!
11 comment|28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.