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on 12 October 2006
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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on 31 December 1997
_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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on 7 May 2013
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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on 27 May 2008
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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on 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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on 17 March 2015
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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on 14 April 1999
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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on 1 July 2016
Absolutely fantastic scholarly version of Paradise Lost with such an abundance of footnotes one can truly get lost. For anyone who wants a truly deep understanding of the greatest English poem of all time.
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on 3 July 2009
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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on 12 September 2014
Really helpful and detailed annotations and introduction, going into quite some depth of commentary
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