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The definitive commentary to Milton's masterpiec,
This review is from: A Preface To Paradise Lost (Hardcover)
[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".