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Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained

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Milton's Paradise Lost is one of the greatest epic poems in the English language. It tells the story of the Fall of Man, a tale of immense drama and excitement, of rebellion and treachery, of innocence pitted against corruption, in which God and Satan fight a bitter battle for control of mankind's destiny. The struggle rages across three worlds - heaven, hell, and earth - as Satan and his band of rebel angels plot their revenge against God. At the center of the conflict are Adam and Eve, motivated by all too human temptations, but whose ultimate downfall is unyielding love.

Marked by Milton's characteristic erudition is a work epic both in scale and, notoriously, in ambition. For nearly 350 years it has held generation upon generation of scholars, students and readers in rapt attention and its profound influence can be seen in almost every corner of Western culture.

400 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1667

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About the author

John Milton

2,087 books1,939 followers
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), written in blank verse.

Milton's poetry and prose reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the urgent issues and political turbulence of his day. Writing in English, Latin, Greek, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime, and his celebrated Areopagitica (1644)—written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship—is among history's most influential and impassioned defenses of free speech and freedom of the press.

William Hayley's 1796 biography called him the "greatest English author," and he remains generally regarded "as one of the preeminent writers in the English language," though critical reception has oscillated in the centuries since his death (often on account of his republicanism). Samuel Johnson praised Paradise Lost as "a poem which...with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance, the second, among the productions of the human mind," though he (a Tory and recipient of royal patronage) described Milton's politics as those of an "acrimonious and surly republican".

Because of his republicanism, Milton has been the subject of centuries of British partisanship.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 240 reviews
Profile Image for Ria.
452 reviews64 followers
May 12, 2019
i just had to add this. i HAD to.

“Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n.”
Did I buy it because our king Magnus Bane quoted it, bitch maybe. I ain’t admitting shit. “Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is’’
I can’t even with the poetry part. Also Paradise Regained is not as good as Paradise Lost… Why am I trying to get into poetry? ... Lately I’ve been really into demons and ‘satanic’ shit in general.
Bitch honestly I get Eve. If God had told me to not eat the apple I would have devoured the whole tree.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,633 followers
October 10, 2019
I read both of these in high school, what feels like millennia ago. I remember enjoying them a lot - the blank verse, the vivid description of Satan and Pandemonium, his palace in Hell (which is portrayed with dismaying terror in a painting by John Martin preserved at Musée du Louvre). Milton's blank verse does tend to keep the story vivid and alive. Admittedly, having re-read Dante's Divine Comedy, I owe myself to reread this classic sometime in 2017. OK, I never got around to re-reading this in 2017 (or 2018 or 2019), but its the thought that counts, right?
Profile Image for Fede.
209 reviews
March 30, 2018
John Milton's poems are much more than the epic account of the Fall of Man and the redemption brought by Jesus Christ.
Two factors make his work the greatest achievement in Christian epic poetry: its literary uniqueness and its religious unorthodoxy.

Its uniqueness is quite obvious: there is just no equivalent to "Paradise Lost/Regained"; no other attempt has ever been made to match Milton's poems either in their magnificence nor in their complexity.
A complexity that is less in their structure (iambic pentameters of blank verses: not rhyming) than in the maze of conflicting undertones of Milton's lyrical speech, a beautifully crafted masterpiece of English XVII century poetry, Christian theology, traditional imagery. It's hard indeed to find any flaw in Milton's writing: virtually no repetitions, long convoluted sentences skilfully juxtaposed with shorter ones, subtle changes in tone and rhythm, perfect development of the characters, well rendered dialogues and descriptions (the visions of Satan's palace and his journey through the original Chaos are pure psychedelia avant la lettre...)
What makes this poem a unique case in literature though is the way Milton deals with the protagonist, Satan, the prototype of the Romantic doomed hero - hopelessly fighting against the joined forces of destiny and nature. What the religious tale actually hints is the political turmoil of Milton's age: Satan is the metaphorical image of king Charles, defeated by God/Oliver Cromwell, and the battle for Heaven is in fact the English civil war that brought Cromwell to power.

What Satan is up to is revenge. He is perfectly aware of his desperate inferiority, but his inner nature prevents him from accepting any kind of obedience ("Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven"). Whether the struggle leads to revenge or ultimate defeat, all that matters is to fight against God's will. Rebellion for its own sake, being he

"One who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven."

In his "Paradise Lost" Milton goes far beyond the Protestant 'dogma' in two outstandingly episodes, in which a whole theological vision is called into question.
First of all, Eve's temptation begins as a night dream, provoked by Satan in the shape of a toad. She sees an angel plucking the Forbidden Fruit and tastes it too, savouring the deadly Knowledge of good and evil - sort of a general rehearsal of her actual temptation.
Then, the following day, God sends the Archangel Raphael to warn Adam of the Fiend's wicked intentions:

"This let him know,
Lest, wilfully transgressing, he pretend
Surprisal, unadmonished, unforwarned."

The notions Milton refers to in these lines are among the essentials of Christian theology: in fact they were at the core of the religious clash of his age, in which the Reform was establishing once and for all its line with regard to free will vs predestination. Milton's interpretation is centred on our Ancestors' deliberate choice to transgress: they lose Eden and themselves as the result of a conscious decision. No predestination at all ("That thou art happy, owe to God; That thou continuest such, owe to thyself"). Quite the contrary, since they are repeatedly warned by God himself about their enemy's plans.
The poem is not exactly in line with Catholicism, either: not when its author makes a painstaking report of the war in Heaven, or imagines Creation to be His immediate reaction against the bad angels' betrayal, or makes Eve suggest suicide to escape damnation... not to mention the lines in which Milton praises the delights of physical love, basically by telling us Adam and Eve didn't waste their time under the starry sky - a notion we hardly find in the Catholic Bible... well, in any Bible:

"Far be it, that I should write tee sin or blame,
Or think tee unbefitting holiest place,
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets..."

"Paradise Regained" is much shorter and less controversial in its contents (the temptation of Christ in the desert).
Satan takes the shape of an old man, then of a courtesan, and suggests Jesus to turn the stones into bread to escape hunger; first temptation.
After Jesus' refusal, Satan tries to lure him with the prospect of earthly glory and power, and fails again.
Then, a last desperate move: the devil brings him on the highest pinnacle of the Temple and tells him to jump into the void: the Lord will save Him and prove His holiness to the crowd. Third refusal; Jesus has resisted Satan and saved mankind, showing how patience and faith are stronger than any devilish temptation.
Except for some unusual imagery, there is nothing even remotely comprarable to the visionary quality of the previous work.

Milton's peculiar poem is not to be considered his own interpretation of the Scriptures though: it's a fervent believer's insight, his attempt to decipher their symbols and mysteries. Tradition is not rejected: what the poet does is exploring some of its innermost roads, which is a great achievement in itself.

Definitely worth a second read.

Profile Image for B. P. Rinehart.
747 reviews256 followers
December 13, 2017
[*I won't mark spoilers but will assume that if you read this you have read Paradise Lost or know the story of the creation of the world and the fall of man as recounted in the book of Genesis.]

"Some natural tears they dropp'd, but wip'd them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand with wand'ring steps and slow
Through Eden took their solitary way.
" - Book XII Lines 645-649

I know what this book is usually based around and who it is based around and I will get to him but I think it is important to realize that the ultimate heroes of this book are Jesus and Adam. Adam is a noble yet fallen hero while the Son of God (as he is referred to during the poem) is the true hero for beating the villain once and being implied to do it again through prophecy to Adam. I think it is worth seeing that the comparisons between Adam and Jesus are everywhere in this book. both have someone they want to sacrifice their lives for to save but only Jesus has the ultimate performance in the end while Adam's attempt to not let Eve die alone dooms mankind. But the fact that we learn that Jesus was the one who ultimately kicked Satan and the rebel angels out of heaven is what should clearly tell you who the hero of the poem is. Now to the one we all want to hear:

Wow is there not a more scary, dangerous, and charming character in literary history than Milton's Satan? Anyone now adays who comes to this poem knows that Satan is bad and that he is...well Satan. yet Milton so establishes this character so dynamically. Every time he speaks it is interesting. He is intentionally slick and charming in a ominous sort of way. In the early books we see his retorical flourish on display after he and his defeated army regroup in hell and he convinces them to let him stay as leader and he puts on such a speech that you would be crazy not to make him leader. Oh but his actions could not be further from good and he is at his most frighting when he is talking to himself or thinking and we can read it because his true intentions to doom Adam & Eve are laid out and the reader is left to feel helpless as it seems (and again this is to John Milton's credit) like Satan is taunting us, "look what I'm about to do to your 'first parents' and no one will stop me."
For a good example of what I am talking about here is some dialogue from Satan after he gets a good look and takes in Adam & Eve for a while in Book IV lines 356-390; now remember that this all a soliloquy to himself, no one but the reader can hear him: "O Hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold!
Into our room of bliss thus high advanced
Creatures of other mould, earth-born perhaps,
Not Spirits, yet to heavenly Spirits bright
360Little inferiour; whom my thoughts pursue
With wonder, and could love, so lively shines
In them divine resemblance, and such grace
The hand that formed them on their shape hath poured.
Ah! gentle pair, ye little think how nigh
365Your change approaches, when all these delights
Will vanish, and deliver ye to woe;
More woe, the more your taste is now of joy;
Happy, but for so happy ill secured
Long to continue, and this high seat your Heaven
," after the lines of petty sarcastic grief above he gets to business here starting at line 370,"Ill fenced for Heaven to keep out such a foe
As now is entered; yet no purposed foe
To you, whom I could pity thus forlorn,
Though I unpitied: League with you I seek,
And mutual amity, so strait, so close,
375That I with you must dwell, or you with me
Henceforth; my dwelling haply may not please,
Like this fair Paradise, your sense; yet such
Accept your Maker's work; he gave it me,
Which I as freely give: Hell shall unfold,
380To entertain you two, her widest gates,
And send forth all her kings; there will be room,
Not like these narrow limits, to receive
Your numerous offspring; if no better place,
Thank him who puts me loth to this revenge
385On you who wrong me not for him who wronged.
And should I at your harmless innocence
Melt, as I do, yet publick reason just,
Honour and empire with revenge enlarged,
By conquering this new world, compels me now
390To do what else, though damned, I should abhor.
" That is not a guy you want wandering around with you and even Satan himself knows that.

Of course it is all build-up to Book IX (9) where the villain protagonist reaches his peak and the story itself shifts 180 degrees. When Satan seduces Eve it is one of the most suspense and thriller-filled passages in western literature and the whole time you are (or should be William Blake!) agonizing as Eve is slowly but surely led to successfully eat the fruit and as soon as the deed is done the animals are the first to react hostilely and Satan (as the serpent) leaves quickly to get back to his squad to celebrate. He obviously did not need to stick around because his work was done.

When Adam finds out he is horrified and knows automatically that Eve is condemned but his love for her is so that he can't imagine her dying alone ("How art thou lost, how on a sudden lost,
Defac't, deflourd, and now to Death devote?
Rather how hast thou yeelded to transgress
The strict forbiddance, how to violate
The sacred Fruit forbidd'n! som cursed fraud
905Of Enemie hath beguil'd thee, yet unknown,
And mee with thee hath ruind, for with thee
Certain my resolution is to Die;
How can I live without thee, how forgoe
Thy sweet Converse and Love so dearly joyn'd,
910To live again in these wilde Woods forlorn?
Should God create another Eve, and I
Another Rib afford, yet loss of thee
Would never from my heart; no no, I feel
The Link of Nature draw me: Flesh of Flesh,
915Bone of my Bone thou art, and from thy State
Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.
" - lines 900 to 916 of Book IX) so he eats the fruit and the deed is done the rest of the events can be found hereHoly Bible: King James Version as well as the remaining books of Paradise Lost. I want to mention that I don't spoil everything and Milton has inserted some rather interesting details into what happens in the aftermath of the fall.

I want to focus on rather quickly on refuting something Eve said during her debate with Adam once they both realize they're screwed. Eve contends that if the Devil got Adam alone he would have easily have fallen but this I don't believe. I think that although Satan's ultimate goal was to get Adam to eat the fruit but he chose the correct method by simply following Eve because he correctly identified their weaknesses by spying on them. He knew that Eve was a narcissist and that Adam would second guess himself when it came to Eve. I think the way it worked was because Adam was created directly by God (like Lucifer himself) he would be wiser and more faithful and more of a problem to persuade. Eve on the other hand was created from Adam, indirectly by God, and only ever knew God through Adam or an angel and was more fascinated by her own being than anything else (she was really pretty). So Satan said get the girl and the girl gets the guy. The guy was able to convince 1/3 of heaven's best angels to rebel, poor little Eve did not stand a chance :( .

In the end though I thought especially after reading the last couple of books that this poem was about redemption (among other things like Milton's anti-monarchy, anti-Catholic message; this was put out during King Charles I/Oliver Cromwell/King Charles II years and Milton was Team Cromwell which didn't work out well for him when Charles II was restored to the throne). The last lines (see the opening quote of this review) of this poem sum up perfectly what Milton hope we ultimately took out of this review: that the fall while tragic was not the end, that Christ's intercession for mankind negates mankind's fall in the end, and do not have Kings because they make God sad-I guess.

[This space reserved for Paradise Regained review]
Profile Image for Kris.
1,372 reviews179 followers
August 23, 2021
Like Dante: great literature, terrible theology.
I can see why everyone says Satan is the most interesting character. I was rather disappointed when he drops out of the story halfway through.
The passages about Eve's special susceptibility to sin particularly infuriated me. As if Adam wasn't just as vulnerable to temptation or didn't rebel against God just as much. As if.
Profile Image for Moony.
21 reviews2 followers
December 31, 2021
I actually finished the whole thing!!! Was pretty epic.
Profile Image for Freca.
256 reviews6 followers
April 10, 2022
Uno spettacolare poema sul peccato, la tentazione e la libertà nella rivisitazione di due episodi biblici: Adamo ed Eva e le tentazioni di Cristo. Un inglese strepitoso, che ammalia il lettore e risulta estremamente immaginifico, con un cambio di stile fra il Lost e il regained seguendo il cambio fra antico e nuovo testamento, fra caduta e integrità, fra distruzione e redenzione.
Personalmente ho preferito il primo, trovando affascinante soprattutto la figura del diavolo.
Importante per comprendere questo testo è conoscere un po' la teologia, infatti le conoscenze base mi hanno fatto capire che mi stavo perdendo un mondo durante la lettura, ma credo sia comunque apprezzabile per le riflessioni, sia contestualizzare all'epoca che attualizzate, estrapolabili al di là dei riferimenti e soprattutto per lo stile.
Inevitabile è pensare alla commedia di Dante, ai canti profetici di Blake, ma anche, forse soprattutto, a Caino e il vangelo secondo Gesù Cristo di Saramago dove il libero arbitrio e il diavolo la fanno da padroni della scena.
Profile Image for Jessica (Books: A true story).
413 reviews129 followers
March 29, 2013
This book took me a long time to read. Three months to be exact. It’s some seriously dense epic poetry. Some of Paradise Lost reminded me a lot of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, especially the lines about flames that produced darkness and the idea of Satan doing the opposite of God but God turns it to good anyway. It was hard to get used to the language, but once I did I really liked how Milton was able to use two meanings for a lot of words – the literal meaning and a figurative meaning. It was interesting that the story is mostly told through Satan’s point of view and Milton makes him a sympathetic character. Satan is also very sarcastic. Is it wrong that I found him a little funny??
The first time I tried reading this book I gave up after about 20 pages because I didn’t realize that the plot was simple and that there’s an actual story going on. I thought the whole book was just deep random thoughts about the fall of Adam and Eve.

Another thing I found interesting was how Milton incorporated a lot of Greek mythology in the story. I’m starting to see why this book is so controversial. For example, Sin pops out of Satan’s head and they become lovers. So Sin is his lover AND daughter. That is kind of similar to Athena’s birth story.

Milton lists a lot of demons by name in Book I. One demon that really caught my eye was named Dagon and he was a mermaid. Did mermaids start out as demons!? That kind of blows my mind.

And then when, towards the end of Book I, all the demons have a council. It is more civil than any political debate I have ever heard. I found that so bizarre.

Overall, I don’t think this is a very religious text (meaning that it teaches Christian doctrine). It’s an interesting mythological twist on a bible story we all know. It was like Shakespeare meets the Bible. Honestly some parts of it really dragged, but I’m glad I read it. I feel very accomplished and a little more educated than I was before.

Paradise Regained is 50 pages long. It’s kind of like an epilogue that shows how Christ defeats Satan. It’s not as good as Paradise Lost and it’s anti-climactic. It’s skippable. I wrote up a plot summary for Paradise Regained in case you want to know what it’s about.

Paradise Regained Summary

I searched everywhere for a basic plot summary for Paradise Regained and I couldn't find one. So I wrote my own.

Book 1 - John the Baptists announces that this is Christ. He's baptized and God pronounces him his son. Satan hears it and has another council on what to do. Satan is going to "snare" Jesus with fraud and tricks. God professes that Jesus will send Satan back to Hell and defeat Sin and Death. Jesus meditates in the desert on how best to defeat Satan. Satan finds him and tells him to turn the stones into bread because Jesus has been fasting for 40 days.

Book 2 - Meanwhile, the people who had been baptized were still at the river Jordan. Mary his mother starts to worry about where Jesus is. Satan has another council because Jesus is not as easy to tempt as he thought he would be. Jesus dreams of prophets being fed by God. Satan tempts Jesus with riches. Jesus: No thanks.

Book 3 - Satan tries flattery and offers glory. Jesus says glory belongs to God. Satan takes Jesus to a mountain and shows him armies he can use to become King of the Jews. Jesus says he'll wait for the right time.

Book 4 - Satan won't quit though he knows he'll probably lose. Asks Jesus to worship him. Jesus says he only worships God. Then Satan tempts him with knowledge. Jesus says he already knows what he needs to know. Satan sends Jesus nightmares. Then Satan tells him to throw himself off the mountain and angels with catch him. Angels come a knock Satan over and take Jesus to a safe place. They give him fruit from Paradise and the angels sing to him. THE END.

This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Profile Image for Linda Isakson.
431 reviews21 followers
February 27, 2010
To be a fan of classic literature it is imperative to read, at least once, the powerful poetic epic that is "Paradise Lost". As far as "Paradise Regained", well...this story is not so illuminating, but is still a beautifully written poem. Most everyone living in a Western Civilization already knows the story: Satan is expelled from Heaven and decides to defile the new world God created. He sneaks into the Garden of Eden and finds a way to ruin God's plans by tempting Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. Eve convinces Adam to do the same and, eventually, they get kicked out of Eden and set on their own.

Since I'm reading this for pleasure and not for academia, it took me a few pages to adjust to the style of writing, but once accustomed, it was easy to follow. The prose and word selection are incomparably beautiful. My favorite quotes from the story include:

"The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."

"Who overcomes
By force, hath overcome but half his foe."

"The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They, hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow
Through Eden took their solitary way."

As far as "Paradise Regained", the story starts with Satan attending the Baptism of Jesus and overhears the pronouncement that Jesus is the Son of God. Angry, Satan decides to overthrow God by tempting his son. While walking through the desert, Jesus is come upon by Satan offering creature comforts, power and knowledge. Jesus rejects all. In the end, Satan is undone by his own scheming and Jesus is left to fulfill his destiny. A destiny Jesus chose for himself in "Paradise Lost".

Admittedly, I like Satan's character in " Paradise Lost" better than in "Paradise Regained". He seemed rather defeated and whiny in "Regained", whereas he appeared charismatic and multi-dimensional in "Lost". I also enjoyed the fact that even God was shown to have some petulant qualities.

Recommended for those who are patient enough to become familiar with the writing style reminiscent of Virgil and Dante, and for those who love epic poetry.
Profile Image for Clayton.
35 reviews2 followers
August 7, 2012
Paradise Lost is bar-none the greatest work of literature in the English language, and I suspect it stands up pretty well against what the rest of the world has to offer. Milton took a handful of Bible verses and expanded them into 10,000 near-perfect lines on the nature of sin, temptation, good and evil. In it, he creates a powerfully sympathetic Lucifer, posits the single most persuasive argument for Human free-will ever attempted, and paints the fall of Man as the greatest tragedy of all time.

If there is argument about who the story's hero is, it is because the story is told so objectively. Every character is treated as though he has something to offer and a story worth telling. Lucifer plays martyr to what he sees as a battle for independence from Tyranny, and is martyred a second time in a heroic final strike against his oppressor. God's story is the tragedy of creating a being who he knows is destined to disappoint him. Eve's story is the tragedy of embracing her weakness in a desire to be stronger. And Adam is given the ultimate choice: to continue in Paradise alone or fall with the woman he loves. Every aspect of the story has the potential to resonate with every reader, and every line is a study in expression and verse. There is simply nothing better.

Paradise Regained, on the other hand, is probably actually better. That is its tragedy. It is not as accessible by half as Paradise Lost, it is not as exciting or as varied, and at barely a third the length, it still will not find as many readers. It is a more beautiful poem and an even more perfect expression of a great thinker's ideas and talent, but it does not have the reach or appeal of its companion piece. It is the Seventh Seal to Paradise Lost's Citizen Kane.

If you have not read Paradise Lost, read it. If your mind is still young, it can be difficult at first. Push through, it's worth it. Then read Paradise Regained, if not for yourself, for Milton. He would've wanted you to.
Profile Image for Richard Houchin.
400 reviews29 followers
April 24, 2008
As Blake said, "The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet, and of the Devil's party without knowing it."

Milton's work is really, really good. It has epic gun battles between angels and demons, and titanic expressions of sheer will. Most remarkable, though, is Satan's character as a rebel hero. Milton's reliance on the apocrypha and the treasure trove of literary stories as his source material do him great credit.
Profile Image for Clay Davis.
Author 4 books120 followers
February 24, 2017
The writing read like a mix of Shakespeare and Tolkien. The story was a mash up of Christian belief and Ancient Greek myth.
Profile Image for Barb Middleton.
1,756 reviews125 followers
March 20, 2022
I can see how this influenced Dante’s inferno and Shakespeare. I recommend the audiobook as the beauty of the blank verse is on full display giving it an epic feel. The story retells Genesis and shows the downfall of Adam and Eve while the second part is Satan tempting Christ. Satan is presented as the Classical Greek hero giving the epic poem an interesting twist. I should have listened and read at the same time to understand it better. I did drift a few times. Milton and March madness don’t always mix.
Profile Image for Colin.
72 reviews3 followers
July 25, 2010
I read this while preparing for a cumulative exam in English literature. I had only touched Milton in a survey course of British Literature of the Renaissance. I must have gone to the bar the night before that lecture because nothing seemed familiar. I spent the better part of two weeks, sitting at work, sitting in cafes, sitting in the library, sitting in my car, announcing Milton's convoluted lines of poetry à haute voix. This was the only way I could understand what was going on, like I was publicly redressing my grievances against both early modern English and Christianity.

I was in a French cafe in Chicago, disturbing other patrons my mumbling, and when the waiter dropped off my sandwich, he smirked, warning me to pay attention. He was speaking of the devil, an influential force in the poem, and it is amazing how Milton can construct an epic work that is so deeply reverent, so deeply religious, and yet imbue it with total doubt and, in moments, scorn. My notebook is filled with notes, mostly with question marks, while my copy of the poem is filled with complementary notes, mostly with exclamation marks. At the end, however, I'm not sure I have a conclusive answer, and maybe that's what Milton wanted. A pause before we barrel through with rash decisions.
September 16, 2016
As we trend the increasing prosperity of bookbinding gallows, haunts, prisons and data driven arrows of failing square boxed perceptions of "lost children" of civility, the greatest philosophical read is a protest poet. Few eternally burn the flames of protest Epics like 1625's John Milton, a man whose passage changed the course of humanity.
After a fall from grace's ambitious cup of challenging King Charles's Puritanical subjugation, his latter years led to a painful journey back with Paradise lost and found. A once promising elegist basking in the joys of an Italian cradle of blended academic brilliance, he soon returned home to defend his stance of civil and religious freedom- king Charles ," The infernal Serpent ; he it was whose guile,Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived" the masses of England. In times where the challenges of freedom and choice are questioned perhaps it is"Better to reign on Hell than serve in Heaven" . Relevant as much today as in 1625, we still look for the remedy to temper thee fall out of civil protest and freedom of speech. SAHNBCT2018
Profile Image for Nancy Jones.
45 reviews2 followers
September 2, 2014
Finished Paradise Lost and started Paradise Regained. Maybe I read a bit of Milton when I was in school but don't remember any positive thoughts on poetry.

I started listening to the audible version because my son wanted to read some of the "Great Books". I decided that I didn't want to get left out. I have no words to describe how Milton can make you see the beginning of the world and feel the struggles of the first people created (and much more).

I don't focus on each individual word but listen to (audible version) the story as if a mother is reading to a child - who may not understand every word but who can follow the story - and like in a tragedy, I say, oh no, don't do it (as in listening to the lowly creature). But I know what is bound to happen. It does follow the Biblical story, generally.

It's like having a Rembrandt to read or listen to. Rich, full of color, full of ideas you could not have thought of.

I like to listen to it as I go to bed.
Profile Image for Bobby Luke.
227 reviews4 followers
January 2, 2020
Supposedly we are to leave this book with sympathy for Lucifer/Satan. Perhaps it is because of my own perceptions and beliefs, but I just didn’t see that. Lucifer makes stupid decisions fueled by vanity and pride. That’s not really the biggest issue, though, as everyone makes mistakes. Lucifer is simply too prideful to admit defeat or ask forgiveness. So he continues down his spiral of pride induced bad decisions, worsening and worsening his situation. His trials and suffering are entirely a product of his own making. He was not wronged in any way. There was a point in the story where he appeared to feel some pangs of regret, and I find myself wondering what would have happened if he would have allowed himself to be humbled, turned from his ways, and asked forgiveness rather than hardening his heart all the more.

That point aside, the prose is as beautiful as advertised. I was surprised by this. I took several months to read this and I think I really need several more to truly dig into the text to appreciate what is there. Yes it is hard to read, yes you will struggle at times, but this book deserves your attention.
Profile Image for Agustín G. Campos Priego.
3 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2023
¡Una obra maestra!

Es impresionante leer un libro en el cual, el personaje principal o “héroe” sea el mismísimo Satanás. No importa si crees que existe o no; o si eres creyente o no. Lo cierto es que es un arquetipo de maldad y representa todo lo opuesto a la virtud, sin embargo Milton es tan hábil que logra transmitir de alguna forma un sentimiento de empatía por él. Entendemos sus motivaciones y, aunque en definitiva no las compartamos, se vuelve un ser tan convincente en cuanto al conflicto interno que desvelamos poco a poco conforme nos adentramos en su alma, que resulta difícil no conmoverse profundamente.

La obra no tiene una estructura lineal, lo cual hace muy interesante y casi teatral, conocer lo qué pasa simultáneamente en el cielo, la tierra (principalmente en el jardín del Edén) y el recién creado infierno. Aunque sin duda las partes que me parecieron más interesantes son aquellas que siguen a Lucifer y no tanto el primitivo estado idílico de Adán y Eva.

La naturalidad con la que leo este poema épico sin duda es consecuencia de mi condición de occidental, forma de vida que descansa sobre la tradición judeocristiana. No obstante, esa familiaridad en cuanto al leitmotiv de la obra de ninguna manera conlleva algo negativo. Por el contrario, es muy intrigante conocer desde otra perspectiva los mitos fundacionales de nuestra civilización.

Las imágenes que el autor puso en mi mente, serán casi imposibles de olvidar. La lucha entre el bien y el mal toma dimensiones difícilmente comparables con cualquier otra historia que jamás haya leído. Cuando no es a través de batallas a gran escala entre ángeles y demonios (qué en la obra de Milton no son otra cosa que ángeles rebeldes), lo es mediante diálogos que agudos entre rivales cuya fuerza, grandeza, virtud y poder es prácticamente el mismo.

Simultáneamente el Ángel Caído sabe perfectamente que nunca va a poder derrotar a Dios frente a frente y jura vengarse de alguna forma en que en verdad pueda hacer daño al creador. Es precisamente tentando a sus criaturas como tal vez lo consiga.

La sutilidad en este libro alcanza niveles que rozan en la perfección, sobre todo en la forma en que nuestro antihéroe logra convencer a Eva de comer del fruto prohibido.

Recomiendo ampliamente complementar su lectura con los incomparables grabados del gran Gustave Doré, sin lugar a dudas hacen de la experiencia algo aún más legendario.

En conclusión, estamos frente a una obra capital para todo lector que desee ser arrastrado a lo más sublime de la poesía épica y que no tenga reparo en subir hasta el mismo cielo, solo para dejarse caer a los rincones más profundos del abismo.
33 reviews4 followers
June 12, 2008
What can I say? I suppose I felt guilty giving "Paradise Lost" anything less than four stars! I'm certainly no serious judge of poetry, epic or other, but I'd never read Milton and felt it was time. It's amazing what you learn about a piece of literature without ever having read it. So with all the critical background noise of graduate school, I finally have Milton under my belt. The poem is impressive, to say the least, and enlightening on many levels, the most intriguing to me being Milton's voice as the, albeit rougish, seventeenth century view of the cosmic positions of Lucifer, God, and Jesus Christ, interaction between earthly and heavenly (and hellish) spheres and beings, the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the redemption offered through Christ's victory over sin, this last portrayed in "Paradise Regained." It's fascinating to see the scenes I've read in scripture so many times through Milton's historico-religious view point. Thoughts and details I'd never ventured to contemplate came to the forefront, especially when draped against my own understanding of the events Milton poeticizes. I certainly didn't try reading it in one or two sittings; I do, after all have the luxury of NOT being in school and reading on a deadline. So I took my time, and it was well worth it.
Profile Image for 伊娃.
79 reviews
January 9, 2023
It would be a 5/5 if paradise regained was better. I agree with the way paradise lost portrays god. God is a tyrannical narcissist who created everything to fall. He provided his creations with the options to serve or have free will.
Profile Image for Alice Sather.
244 reviews2 followers
April 14, 2012
Read the original even though you'll wade at times because of language that is ponderous to us. It is worth the literary and cultural experience.
Profile Image for Vicky Hunt.
854 reviews58 followers
December 16, 2018
In Paradise Regained, all that was lost is reversed. Like in the first book, Milton wrote this in free verse, but his verse is much simpler. It doesn’t have the same complexity that is exemplified to so great effect in Paradise Lost. This makes sense, as Jesus’ arrival was to simplify salvation. And, Jesus was a plain man, not of the educated or upper class. Often I noticed pairs of phrases that directly reversed themselves in the same sentence, as in the following two examples:
”For where no hope is left is left no fear.”

”Thy delicacies I contend and count thy spacious gifts no gifts but guiles.”

Much of the poem is in the words of Jesus. My favorite part was the section where we hear a young Jesus speaking about going into the temple to hear the great teachers and to answer their questions. Here, Mary speaks to him as any Mother would to a son, to remind him that He can do great deeds as well as speaking great words. This matches her injunction for His first recorded miracle. Many Christians, particularly the young, are likely to believe that preaching is more important than deeds of love, thinking that Jesus’ sermons were more important than the charitable miracles that surrounded them. But, the Bible records that Jesus felt sad to see the suffering and wanted to help, just as much as He wanted to speak words of life.
”By matchless deeds express thy matchless Sire.”

It was also a bit humorous to hear Satan explain to Jesus at His temptation in the desert that he is not so sure yet that Jesus is the Son of God. He explains that he was at the river when John was baptizing people, though he wasn’t there to be baptized himself. He saw Jesus baptized on one such occasion, and heard the voice from heaven proclaim Jesus as God’s Son. Satan said this by way of explanation for how he knew who Jesus was supposed to be, to allow Satan to discount Jesus’ divinity, without having him admit that the devils know who Jesus is and tremble… as the Bible says.

The Old testament figures in here often, as with a reference here to King Saul:
”As he who seeking asses found a kingdom.”

I had read the first book narrated by Simon Vance, who narrates in a majestic voice. But, that included the lengthy ‘arguments’ that had been added at the beginning of each section to summarize what the 12 books contained, which broke the effect of hearing the poem uninterrupted. What’s more, it was in audio sync with a Kindle version (the one with the plain brown cover) that had some errors, and did not include the arguments. This meant that it was not… well, you get the picture. I wasn’t happy with that.

I looked around a bit more and I found this Audible version of both Paradise Lost and the sequel, Paradise Found together that is without the arguments. I chose that to read the sequel and for later re-reading of both. It is narrated by Phileppe Duquenoy, and I like it better than the other. He does read this sequel a bit fast for my preference, so I slowed it down to about 90%. That seemed perfect. This sequel is less than two hours at normal speed. Both together are only 10 hours. This would be my suggestion for anyone reading for the first time, and I’ll include the link. It does have a whisper-sync option, so that the price is ten bucks cheaper if you buy the .99 cent Kindle version that matches it first. The Link is on this same page. And, that Kindle is much better as well.Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained

To be honest, Paradise Restored is not as good as Paradise Lost, which is grand and epic in its sorrow and all the beauty of creation. I was unsure at first if I was just thinking this because Simon Vance sounds better. So, I listened to part of Paradise Lost on this format. Yes, Simon Vance sounded better. But, he does not do this second book. And, Phileppe Duquenoy’s reading of Paradise Lost sounds better than his reading of Paradise Regained. He doesn’t read it too fast either, which may be because even he sensed the difference in grandeur. It is just simply a fact that Paradise Lost is a much more beautiful work. At least, that’s my opinion. But, whether you choose to read this book or not, I suggest you at least read Paradise Lost. I enjoyed both classics and highly recommend them for all ages.
Profile Image for Philip of Macedon.
268 reviews63 followers
March 24, 2022
John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained are, both separately and especially together, magnificent epics of limitless power and force. Holy cow. Written in ‘English Heroic Verse without Rhyme’, these massive and marvelous poems are to my knowledge the grandest examples of narrative poetic epic ever written in English.

The lyrical and rhythmic feel of the whole body of work is outstanding, the work of a master. But it is not only poetically beautiful, but intellectually and narratively it is resounding, satisfying, deep and perceptive, sympathetic, and thought out. What makes these works even more remarkable is that Milton composed them while blind, his words transcribed by others. So he didn’t have the benefit that writers have of reading and re-re-re-reading their work and verse closely so as to be able to go in and make fine adjustments. He had it only in his head and had to be acutely tuned into the project. This genius level focus shows.

Paradise Lost tells the story of Satan’s rebellion, his war against Heaven, his banishment from there with his fellow plotters and rebels, and eventually to the creation and colonization of Hell, his continued war with God and the angels, his attempts to return, his temptations of Eve and Adam as a serpent and the destruction of Eden as God renders it a plague-ridden, misery-laden, death-riddled world of corruption and pain, all because Adam and Eve exercised the supremacy of intellectual curiosity over blind obedience, and the rearrangement and plans that would follow. The title of this epic seems to refer to Satan and his followers losing their place in the paradise of Heaven, and to Adam and Eve losing their paradise of Eden.

Paradise Regained is a much shorter, a bit more refined although not better, epic that details the fallout of the events of Paradise Lost, and what will come of humanity, as the Son of God intends to save them. Satan tries to tempt Jesus with all manner of things, and their conversations toward the end make up the climax of this narrative, with a deeply philosophical, theological, and mythological discussion.

If you’ve seen the fantastic illustrations Gustave Dore and John Martin made for Paradise Lost, you will catch a glimpse of the magnitude of the power and scale of these epics. I cannot think of more perfect artists to bring to life the visual aspect of the poems. As Milton’s introduction states, this is heroic verse, and fittingly, the tales are related as heroic epics, with all their characters and events and dialogues painted like a legend and ultra-high fantasy, brilliant and evocative. But the majority of what's here can't be illustrated even with the best art.

It took me a month to read through Paradise Lost, a couple days for Paradise Regained. These are exemplary of what “slow reading” is intended for, because every page, virtually every line is replete with both style and substance, never gaudy or purple or needlessly complex, yet is a finely detailed part of this multilayered poetic epic narrative that must be examined from multiple angles and really grappled with to be understood. These verses examine the scenes and their ideas and characters closely, with allusions and references and themes and details and plays on words that are easy to miss, or to not quite understand. I had to re-read entire pages sometimes to be sure I completely absorbed it and understood it, and did this slowly. Fortunately, the Signet Classic version I read had plenty of footnotes and a good, insightful introduction, both provided by Christopher Ricks.

It was a slow, sometimes difficult, but ultimately enjoyable and invigorating read. Even when it was not enjoyable, because I was trudging slowly over the dangerous mountain passes and trying to make sense of it all, momentarily losing sight of its beauty and grandeur, I was able to recognize the sheer force of it, the extreme accomplishment that this is, and I always came back to my feet, breathless but stronger.

If you wanted to think of literature as analogous to a continuum of physical activity, for some reason, writers like Ernest Hemingway and William Carlos Williams might lie toward one end, the end analogous to a backyard game of catch, and these works by John Milton would be at the end analogous to elite Navy SEALS training. In both cases the efforts and rewards are proportional to one another.

Like the incredible Divine Comedy by Dante over three centuries earlier, these epics are colored not only by their amazing lyricism, narratives, and litany of vivid characters, but with an expert-level transfusion of mythologies from ages past, geographical and historical and literary themes and details in abundance, everything put together in an encyclopedic and artful way that modern writers cannot measure up to.

Unlike the Divine Comedy, however, these works are not telling a story made up by and involving the narrator, but are perhaps instead the most outrageously complete and satisfying fleshing out and embellishment of the associated source mythology ever written. It is one of the landmarks of world literature for good reason, but I think it should also be seen as a landmark work of world mythology. It gives the Christian mythos the same literary and artistic treatment that Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad gave to ancient Greek mythos.

John Milton was of course an author who believed in the religion whose mythology he was writing. This is evident in how well developed it is, how insightful and involved it is, how serious it is, and how deep he makes it. But what is surprising is how well developed and multidimensional and sympathetic his portrayal of Satan is, probably the most interesting character in the work. This is a high accolade because every character here is built into a complete vision. But Satan steals the show in both works. He is compelling, relatable, human, better than human, intelligent, rational, thoughtful, energetic and fierce, and obviously "flawed", in the parlance of modern 'literary criticism'. But his flaws are, outside the framing of the mythology, no bigger than the flaws of those who have punished him. He sought glory, and as he points out in his final conversation with Jesus at the end of Paradise Regained, God is also guilty of seeking, requiring, demanding glory. Satan’s actions are almost always able to be seen as justifiable, or at least understandable and familiar. If nothing else, his actions are what provide the impetus for the entire grand epic, including his rebellion, banishment, war, temptation, and all else.

These poems apparently elicited a lot of controversy when they were published, and long after, for Milton’s portrayal of Satan and certain events. What I love is that these works fractured the literary community of Milton’s day, confusing the critics and frustrating them, as they could not help but read into his works with their own beliefs and prejudices and interpretations primed and ready, totally unequipped to make a level-headed, rational assessment of his works. Almost four centuries later we haven’t moved one atomic diameter away from this model. Literary communities, reflecting aspects of the larger culture, are still just as intolerant of blasphemy and heresy and uncomfortable with nuance and non-binary portrayals of morality in fiction as they were centuries earlier, the only thing that has changed is what is sacred, what ideas are fashionable and holy and thus protected from criticism, or from 'unapproved representations'. The philosophical depth of the work still holds up strong, with levels of nuance and attentive thinking absent from all but the best in philosophical fiction.

I can’t say anything meaningful about these works from a theological perspective, since I know nothing of it and am not religious, but it is so full and rich and impressive in every way that there are a dozen perspectives one could look at it from, and offer thoughts on. There’s the literary angle, mythological angle, historical angle, philosophy angle, fiction angle, fantasy angle, and obviously the poetry angle. Each of these angles reveals a universe. I have only touched on some basic surface thoughts I’ve had about these works, and there is much more I would like to say. I probably will never write it all out. This is just incredible. It stands with the Divine Comedy and the otherwise peerless epics that came before. I haven’t read Virgil’s Aeneid yet, but I assume this probably stands up there with that, too.

Profile Image for Susan Bohland.
9 reviews
July 23, 2020
This is one of those works of literature that you can tell is a masterclass example of where a writer can take literature. Challenging and written in a way that can show all that can be done with the English language, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained may be inaccessible to some, but well worth a read or study.

Having a general background in other epics (The Odyssey, The Metamorphoses, etc.) and knowing a lot of Greek mythology and Classical history was pretty paramount to engaging with the text. Not that is a bad thing, it really helps place Milton among a larger / older tradition of epic poetry and Western literature.

Overall it was an enjoyable read, showing off a ~beauty of language~ that you would expect from something typically heralded as THE work of English lit. Language aside, the characters and dialogue displays a lot of archetypes that are usually buried under mountains of allegory in modern lit but are used very earnestly here. For those who are curious as where all the favorites themes and motifs of many famous novels come from (the Fall from innocence, the Satanic tempter, the Sacrificial Redeemer, etc.), this would be an ideal work to read.
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