Reviled as a regicide, isolated in a personal darkness, and aging, John Milton did not relinquish his voice. He somehow used that tireless voice, rather, to create Paradise Lost, one of the enduring masterpieces of English literature. Despite its difficulties—idiosyncratic syntax, densely packed ideas, capacious structure, and epic form—the poem still has the power to dislodge modern readers from our ordinary habits of reading and push us to experience new perspectives and new ideas.
This new edition, based on the 1674 text, guides readers through the poem’s interpretive challenges with a compact but thorough introduction and a readable and helpfully annotated text. Illuminating contextual materials, including related works by Milton, classical and biblical sources, material on the composition of the poem, and illustrations of Paradise Lost from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, are also included.
“Who better than the distinguished literary historian of conscience to produce an edition of Milton’s masterpiece? In his incisive introduction, Abraham Stoll wears his considerable learning lightly, managing to explain in a few words how Milton’s particular interest in liberty and free will structure his long poem, and how bold and confrontational Milton was when he opposed the dominance of predestination Calvinism and placed arguments he had used to defend the unlicensed printing press in the mouth of Eve asking Adam for the right to roam throughout the Garden of Eden. The edition contains carefully thought-out footnotes and a series of appendices containing relevant images, extracts from the Bible, and notes Milton made of his plans for Paradise Lost. Overall, this is a splendid new edition that brings the poem to life for the modern reader.” — Andrew Hadfield, University of Sussex