Jake's Reviews > Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost by John Milton
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Jun 15, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: religion, poetry, school-reads
Recommended for: lovers of grand poetry and myth.
Read in March, 2005

Milton’s poem is an epic retelling of Satan’s fall and Adam and Eve’s truncated time in the Garden of Eden. The symbolism, language, and themes are as rich as poetry gets. Milton’s work does for this story what Gone With the Wind does for Southern history; what War and Peace does for Russian history; what Les Miserables does for French history; and, well heck, what Lord of the Rings does for Middle Earth History.

This is grand storytelling in every respect. In Milton’s customized mythology, the setting is vast and every character is iconic. Intellectually speaking, there is something for everyone to chew on and mull over regardless of if they agree with Milton’s take.

Here is a note I wrote myself after reading Paradise Lost:

I find myself objecting with God’s statement: “Happier, had it sufficed him to have known / Good by itself, and evil not at all” (Book Eleven: ln. 88-9). Perhaps it's because I was raised under a different theology (Mormonism) than Miltons’s--similar, but fundamentally different in the most critical points. I’ve always felt that it’s better to have knowledge and let come what may, than to live in blissful ignorance that is only blissful because it is ignorance.

A note on editions: the difference between enjoying a classic and not enjoying it may be all about which edition you read. As with other older works, I read a well-footnoted edition of Paradise Lost. It enabled me to appreciate more obscure references. It was slow reading, but engaging and incredibly satisfying.

Thanks for the ride, Milton.
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