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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradise Lost Regained!
Milton - as his daughters, who were made to transcribe his epic writings when his sight began to fail, would probably agree - is an awkward, demanding and challenging poet. His masterpiece, Paradise Lost, is prodigious in so many ways: it is ambitious, arrogant, learned, allusive and elusive. It is also quite breathtaking, a joy to read and a marvel when you actually...
Published on 12 Oct. 2006 by A Fallen Angel

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4 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars heavy going but i got an A !!
Our lecturer told us to purchase this edition due to the notes and intro. I thought the story itself was a difficult read, and sometimes the notes were just as bad. I guess it depends how much you grasp this kind of stuff on your own, but the notes are designed for those who know what the story means to a great extent. I grasped the general picture, but had to resort to...
Published on 20 Nov. 2003 by Vicky Ward


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradise Lost Regained!, 12 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Milton: Paradise Lost (Longman Annotated English Poets) (Paperback)
Milton - as his daughters, who were made to transcribe his epic writings when his sight began to fail, would probably agree - is an awkward, demanding and challenging poet. His masterpiece, Paradise Lost, is prodigious in so many ways: it is ambitious, arrogant, learned, allusive and elusive. It is also quite breathtaking, a joy to read and a marvel when you actually understand it. And it is the understanding that can prove a stumbling block to the modern reader. Milton knew a lot of stuff that 'we' simply don't have a clue about; he made references to things that 'we' know in only the most hazy fashion. That's where this edition, edited by Alastair Fowler, comes in. It fills in the gaps in our collective knowledge and allows us to come to our own understanding of the magnificence of the poem. Reading this edition gives the poem extraordinary resonance: it's almost like sitting on the poet's shoulder, listening to his brain tick over. I can't recommend it highly enough, in fact, to paraphrase somebody or other, I think it is safe to say that you haven't read Paradise Lost, if you haven't read Fowler.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply beautiful!, 31 Dec. 1997
By A Customer
_Paradise Lost_ will of course continue to be reproduced, but the content will essentially stay the same. The question is which of the countless number of editions to purchase. Fowler's editing and copious yet useful annotations are first rate for any single edition of PL. Though most publishers treat epic poetry as though it were pulp-fiction, Longman has dignified this volume with paper that is acid-free and binding that is better than most hardcovers as it is stiched in signatures. It is simply beautiful, and it is simply the best edition if one wants to study Milton's epic carefully.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent book, misleading blurb, 7 May 2013
By 
Dr. Richard M. Price (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Milton: Paradise Lost (Longman Annotated English Poets) (Paperback)
This indeed a hugely illuminating edition. My one comment is on the statement in the publisher's blurb given above, 'It is the only recent edition of Paradise Lost to be based on the text of the first (1667) edition, now widely accepted to be closer to Milton's intention than that of 1674.' This is publisher's nonsense. Fowler follows the 1674 division of the work into twelve books, not the 1667 one into ten, and includes the lines (admittedly not numerous) that were added in the later edition. In the cases where there are differences in the wording (all slight), he follows sometimes one edition and sometimes the other. As regards 'accidentals' (essentially just punctuation, since the spelling is modernized) he expresses a preference for the 1667 text, but notes that the differences are small and that 'neither edition has superior authority'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good way in to one of the greats of the English Language, 27 May 2008
By 
Mr. J. A. Edwards "josephaedwards" (nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Milton: Paradise Lost (Longman Annotated English Poets) (Paperback)
Why read Milton?
There are many reasons why Milton is informative and enjoyable to readers today. Firstly, his poetry is brilliant. It is terse, but elegant, invested with a mighty power - try reading it out loud to get the full impact. Secondly, his theological views are interesting and thought provoking - the question 'how can man have free will when his fate is predetermined?' is one which I found myself pondering as I read 'Paradise Lost' (although my religious beliefs are completely different to Milton's, to say the least). Thirdly, it is very important in the history of English poetry, and the English language. Considering the poem was first published in 1667, one of the most startling aspects of the work is just how modern it feels - the syntax and grammar are both clear and concise in a way that few works of the time were; in terms of its language 'Paradise Lost' was very influential. I hope I have given a few good reasons why it is both enjoyable and positive to read 'Paradise Lost'.

Why read this edition?
Longman Annotated Editions are the place to go for many of the great English poets, with great editions of both 'Paradise Lost' by Milton and 'The Faerie Queene' by Spenser. The reason I give this edition five stars is that with Milton, like so many other Renaissance poets, unless you are very familiar with Milton's theodicy, it is hard to guage just how complex and detailed a text it is on your first reading. Fowler's notes give a thorough account of the references, both classical and biblical, that come up in the poem. An alternative option would be to read a lengthy introduction or guide first, but in my opinion, the best tactic is to get an edition like this, which supports the reader, and get straight into the text itself. This is the definitive edition of one of the best epic poems in the English tradition.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 18 July 2006
If you're serious about Milton, this is the best edition of Paradise Lost to equip yourself with, whether for home study or for academic purposes. The annotations offered in this edition are truly superb - ranging from social and historical contexts and themes, to the significance of Milton't other works and similarities/contrasts in other sections of Paradise Lost. I thought this was an extremely helpful edition and without it I would never have enjoyed Paradise Lost as much as I do - it made my whole experience of reading Milton's epic so much more rewarding. Initially I was only fascinated with the first 6 or 7 Books of Paradise Lost, but with the Longman Annotated edition I re-read the whole epic and it was wonderful to spot the various contrasts and similarities weaved in throughout the entire text. A definite eye opener!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Warning: Not Quite the Paperback, 17 Mar. 2015
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I have been waiting for this s book to be published on Kindle for years. The book is fantastic. I had wanted to read it for many years but in the absence of very biblical culture or classical education I always found the book a little overwhelming. Yet I recognise that the book is a critical contemporary commentary on what I believe is the pivotal point in British Political, Religious and Economic history, the English Civil War.
This original book is excellently annotated so that each verse is explained and put into context. It took me a long time to digest but all of it was enjoyable.
So when I found that a Kindle version was created I brought it immediately.
But there is A warning. Switching between the verse and the annotations in the paper version is much easier than switching between the verse and annotations which are placed at the end of each book (. 12 Books)
This makes the experience completely different and in my mind has made the book much more expensive than I had thought. I am not sure I needed a kindle copy unless it was as useable as the paper back.
I can't give this less than three stars because it is so superior to everything else but it is not superior the paper back.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece for the ages., 14 April 1999
By A Customer
To be honest, I have never a big fan of poetry, but John Milton's epic changed that. I only decided to read this book after religion(and anti-religion) discussions started to heat up in my school. When I read Paradise Lost, I quickly stopped thinking of it as a poem, but as an epic of astronomical proportions that identifies many truths about humanity. The reading can be rather difficult at times, but with Alastair Fowler's wonderful annotations, it is possible for readers of any level to comprehend and enjoy Paradise Lost.
Milton's sympathetic view of Lucifer in his rebellion against heaven is very insightful and compelling. I loved this poem, but I would only recommend it to readers of a slightly older age, as you have to be able to understand his blank verse writing to fully enjoy this epic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic with extras, 3 July 2009
This review is from: Milton: Paradise Lost (Longman Annotated English Poets) (Paperback)
From what I can gather, the first edition of this Fowler annotated PL was widely regarded as 'Bible' by Milton fans. This, therefore can only be considered equal if not improved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 12 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Milton: Paradise Lost (Longman Annotated English Poets) (Paperback)
Really helpful and detailed annotations and introduction, going into quite some depth of commentary
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Notes for Students, 15 Feb. 2009
The only work of English literature to be properly epic in absolutely every manner, nothing else I have ever read approaches it in majesty. Its construction, its scope, its subject matter, its imagination, its aspiration, even its very sound - blank verse though it may be - all contribute to its majesty. And a unique majesty it is. If epics should concern LONG tales, of heroic deeds in arms, that name is hardly befitting to "Paradise Lost". Its size, respectably grand as it is, does not in anyway compare to, say, "The Lord of the Ring".

As expected from a work of its reputation, "Paradise Lost" is polymathic, and incredibly so. Milton built on and, surely, surpassed the tradition of ancient epics which he studied. The syntax, diction and metre are highly wrought - linguistically there is a wrought grandeur about the text and is entirely suited to its matter. Figurative language deluges forth, of the most minutely woven texture. And what a work of poetic imagination it is! A cosmic strife, a Satanic council - essentially a massive conflation of what happens in biblical timeline up to the Expulsion. What is more, just about every discipline of academia - from astronomy and geography to theology and politics - is drawn upon.

All that said, "Paradise Lost"'s most sublime grace is to never for a moment loses its focus. Time and again it casts a look that is anything but uncritical on its own milieu. Nevertheless all of these are never gratuitous to its primary engagement with its central theme of free will. Sure enough there are several lesser, less explicit themes, but none which free will does not belie springs readily to my mind. Such an unlaxing and explicit concentration confers all the intensity that both the casual reader and the intellectual critic may take an equal measure of pleasure in. Ultimately most relevant to Christians, Milton's polymathic exploration of this conundrum in so exquisitely nuanced a presentation will pertain to civilization as long as the issue of free will is debated. Its concern is universal and so much of it is a startling imaginative work of Milton's own that it simply is not mired in its own age. Milton was a hugely intellectual and polymathic writer; "Paradise Lost" demands a proper mental engagement (though it does not necessarily have to be a scholarly one). But this is a requisite which all that have any respectability at all as a man capable of partaking human civilization, morality and conscience will not mind. The Romantics looked back on Milton with reverence; here was probably the moment when the imagination- and aesthetic-driven mode of literary composition was truly innovated. Never have I read any other writer in whom both the artistic - rooted firmly in transcendental, human sensibilities - and rational intellect are in full force at strife, neither yielding.

I am not going to attempt to review any further a poem which has over three centuries of scholarship behind in a review such as this one. But just to give a fairer and hopefully not misleading review, I would point out that the poem does lose its momentum in the last two books, namely after the infernal host has retired from the narrative and when the poem becomes less of Milton's imaginative conflation of the biblical story but a pageant of selected episodes from the Bible. Here Milton perhaps let his cold intellect take over as he felt the self-conscious need to remain in orthodox propriety. Technically the last two books are as fit as an ending can be to the poem, completing the poem's symmetrical structure as well as being loaden metaphorically in a crescendo towards a potent finish. It cannot be faulted from that point of view. However, it is reduced almost to merely being an interpretation of the Scripture: the function of academic essays, not a literary work. In my view, technical beauty in a work of art does not have any merit in itself unless it compounds to the satisfaction of its experience.

This "Longman Annotated Poets" edition (2nd edition, hardback) is very good to read from. Such a majestic jewel certainly deserves a more generous printing layout and the volume itself is just nearly too big to hold comfortably. Yet these shortcomings are plentily offset by a very attractive cover, a binding which is congenial to the hands and a copious quantity of critical apparatus. Everything that appeared in any edition of "Paradise Lost" printed in Milton's lifetime has been put together: argument, publisher's note, Milton's note "The Verse", et. al., along with Dryden's epigram added in the 1688 edition. The notes are, one can be certain, far from exhaustive, but to all intents and purposes, if you are not a Milton scholar, they are; on very few occasions did they not help to explain a passage I found obscure. In any case, the general sense of the narrative is never so confounded by Milton's mimetic language that it becomes too disruptive for pleasurable reading. The introduction provides explanatory notes on the poem as a whole. Last but most importantly, this edition so far as possible does not use editorial punctuation. Modernized spelling at best alters pronunciation - an issue somewhat insignificant in an orthographically unphonetic tongue, but punctuations have grammatical functions. With so linguistically complex a text as "Paradise Lost", with all its subtleties, ambiguities and nuances, the occasional confusion caused by 17th-Century punctuation usage simply is inadequate a call for modernization, which compulsorily must needs be interpretative.
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Milton: Paradise Lost (Longman Annotated English Poets)
Milton: Paradise Lost (Longman Annotated English Poets) by Alastair Fowler (Paperback - 22 Aug. 2006)
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