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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2000
The purpose of this book is to remove hindrances to the enjoyment of Paradise Lost: the author felt it useful to start by defending the genre of long narrative poems as such. There is no point reading them like lyrics and looking for good lines: that is like looking for good stones in a cathedral. Lewis frankly admits the poem's weak points (especially the closing books in respect of which he quotes Dr Johnson: "the story cannot possibly be told in a manner which will make less impression on the mind") but rises to the defence of the pomp and ceremony of epic poems, which are usefully distinguished into primary (Iliad, Beowulf) and secondary (Aeneid, Paradise Lost). The point of the distinction is to place Milton in the line of descent from Vergil: a poet whose poem points somewhere and who writes within a conscious scheme of things (this teleological aspect being lacking from, say, Homer).
Is a book about Paradise Lost likely to be read only by the true believers? Perhaps, but the ideal reader would be someone who has struggled to get past the first book or two and would appreciate getting the hindrances cleared out of the way.
I have bought this book twice but have no copy of it now: don't lend it out if you want to get it back.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2012
In "A Preface To Paradise Lost", Lewis talks about what Milton was trying to accomplish with this epic, and this critical work will always stand in very high circles indeed in Milton scholarship. Much of his wisdom is sound, especially when it comes to judging a thing. Lewis says to judge something we must know what it is and what it is intended to do, and then he goes into types of epic poetry and what Milton is trying to accomplish with his work.

Milton's influence on "Perelandra" is very evident, for Lewis took everything he did not like in Milton and threw them out in the elaborate construction of "Perelandra". It is obvious Lewis greatly admires Milton, and his tribute to him is very great indeed.

One issue, as some critics have pointed out, is Lewis's inability to appreciate spoken poetry, which is a very real weakness. Other than that, however, "A Preface to Paradise" lost stands as one of Lewis's best work of scholarship and will greatly add to anyone's understanding of Milton's aim and theology in general.

Lewis deals with the several key issues in Milton. One thing often misunderstood by the Romantics was it seemed to have a positive portrayal of Satan, and how lordly he sounds. The idea of better to be a king in hell than a slave in heaven is of course an absurd one, but from this Lewis builds his great little novel "The Great Divorce."

Ultimately, like Tolkien with "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics", Lewis has written the definitive textual commentary to "Paradise Lost", and probably the most read book on Milton as well as far as literary criticism goes.

--------------
[Throughout the years, I have written a number of reviews that have never been published online on Amazon. These writings comprise two types of reviews: unfinished reviews, abandoned during various stages of composition, and completed reviews that for life reasons were never posted. Of the later type, back in September 2001 I wrote a cache of work, a full sixteen reviews of several different C. S. Lewis books which have never been released. I am publishing these reviews now for the first time, over a decade after they were initially written. Mike London 10-3-2012]

*(These reviews covered all seven books of "The Chronicles of Narnia", the three novels of "The Space Trilogy", "The Abolition of Man", "The Four Loves", "A Preface to Paradise Lost", a revised version of my 2000 review of "Till We Have Faces", "Surprised By Joy", and "The Screwtape Letters".)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2012
[Throughout the years, I have written a number of reviews that have never been published online on Amazon. These writings comprise two types of reviews: unfinished reviews, abandoned during various stages of composition, and completed reviews that for life reasons were never posted. Of the later type, back in September 2001 I wrote a cache of work, a full sixteen reviews* of several different C. S. Lewis books which have never been released. I have issued these reviews in October 2012 on Amazon.com, over a decade after they were initially written. However, these reviews were heavily edited and in several instances radically and drastically revised. I am publishing these reviews now for the first time in their original, unrevised format as written in 2001, with bracketed additions added for occasionally necessary clarification. Mike London 10-23-2012]

In Preface To Paradise Lost, Lewis talks about what Milton was trying to accomplish with this epic, and this critical work will always stand in very high circles indeed in Milton scholarship. Much of his wisdom is sound, especially when it comes to judging a thing. Lewis says to judge something we must know what it is and what it is intended to do, and then he goes into types of epic poetry and what Milton is trying to accomplish with his work.

Milton's influence on Perelandra is very evident, for Lewis took everything he did not like in Milton and threw them out in the elaborate construction of Perelandra. It is obvious Lewis greatly admires Milton, and his tribute to him is very great indeed.

One issue, as some critics have pointed out, is Lewis's inability to appreciate spoken poetry, which is a very real weakness. Other than that, however, Preface to Paradise lost stands as one of Lewis's best work of scholarship and will greatly add to anyone's understanding of Milton's aim and theology in general.

Lewis deals with the several key issues in Milton. One thing often misunderstood by the Romantics was it seemed to have a positive portrayal of Satan, and how lordly he sounds. The idea of better to be a king in hell than a slave in heaven is of course an absurd one, but from this Lewis builds his great little novel The Great Divorce.

*(These reviews covered all seven books of "The Chronicles of Narnia", the three novels of "The Space Trilogy", "The Abolition of Man", "The Four Loves", "A Preface to Paradise Lost", a revised version of my 2000 review of "Till We Have Faces", "Surprised By Joy", and "The Screwtape Letters".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2011
This book got me through my A level English - we studied Book 4 and I soaked up all that CS Lewis said about Paradise Lost. He gave me a breadth of insight that got me an A grade - that was over 30 years ago !!

Eternall grateful.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2011
Leis valuently makes a Case that Milton can be read without saigning up to Xtianity & yet not taking the line about 'Lies breathed thru silver'
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