2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good way in to one of the greats of the English Language,
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.