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Paradise Lost

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John 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, who are motivated by all too human temptations but whose ultimate downfall is unyielding love.

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

453 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1667

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About the author

John Milton

2,074 books1,940 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 5,299 reviews
Profile Image for Meg.
6 reviews112 followers
December 4, 2013
in middle school i had seen this book lying around the house and for some reason it struck me as very impressive. i didn't ever want to read it but i wanted to give off the impression that i was the type of person who would read it. i did this with a few other books too (catcher in the rye, on the road, ect.) i carried it to school so that teachers would see it in my possession and prominently displayed it on my bedside table to let friends and family know.

after actually reading the book for a brit-lit class i realized how wrong my thirteen-year-old self was with the image i assumed i was portraying. most likely people realized that i was desperate for attention and for some strange reason was using john milton to get it, but on the off chance they did believe i was 'into' paradise lost, i must have seemed like a total psycho. the book is about a war waged in hell after satan's fall into the underworld. all of the descriptions are completely graphic and grotesque. i think i blocked a lot out but i do remember a female demon who is repeatedly raped by her sons immediately after giving birth to them. yuck. thank god i realized later that the best way to get attention is through cigarettes and promiscuity not literature.
Profile Image for Alex.
1,419 reviews4,487 followers
January 2, 2015
There's all this debate over why Satan is so appealing in Paradise Lost. Did Milton screw up? Is he being cynical, or a double-secret atheist? And why is God such a dick?

But no one asks whether, say, Shakespeare screwed up in making Iago so much fun; they just give him credit for writing an awesome villain. And that's all Milton's doing. Satan is tempting for us because Satan is tempting for us. That's the point of Satan! If Milton didn't make him as appealing as possible, he'd be doing Satan a disservice. And Eve, for that matter.

Similarly, God's a dick because God's a dick. You've read the Old Testament. He's not exactly all flowers and hugs there either. Again, Milton's just being true to his characters, and writing a great story while he's at it.

There’s slightly more to it than that, yeah. For example: it's hinted a little that God sets Satan up to fall. He gives a stern warning that anyone who disobeys him or his son will be cast out of Heaven. But since there's no sin or evil at the time of his speech, why give the warning? Isn't that like saying "Don't touch these cookies while I'm gone" to a kid who didn't realize there were cookies until you pointed them out?

Here’s my advice to people considering reading Paradise Lost: read the first two books. It starts with a bang, and it’s pretty amazing for a while. It slows down a bit in books III - VII, so if you’re not totally sold in the first two books (I was), you can either quit altogether with a fair idea of what Milton sounds like, or skip to books IX and X. IX is the actual temptation and fall (especially fun if you’re a misogynist), and X is an astonishing sequence where Adam and Eve contemplate suicide:

"Why am I mocked with death, and lengthened out
To deathless pain? How gladly would I meet
Mortality my sentence...
his dreadful voice no more
Would thunder in my ears." (Adam, X.774 - 780)

“We’ve totally mucked this up, and our kids are gonna justifiably hate us because we got kicked out of Paradise, and maybe we should just quit while we’re behind.”

But really, the whole thing is worth it. Took me a while – it’s intense stuff, so I found that I had to read a book and then chew on it for a while to process it before moving to the next one – but it’s cool.

In book VIII, if you’re cosmologically minded, Milton lays out the whole universe. Like Giordano Bruno, he understands that our earth is a tiny speck in the universe, and he gets that all the stars are suns like ours, and therefore could have planets like ours around them. He also thinks they might be inhabited; our species might not be God's only experiment. Elsewhere, other Adams and Eves may have faced the same test of the Tree of Knowledge - and they might have passed it. Isn't that an amazing thought?

In books XI and XII, Michael tells Adam sortof all the rest of the stories in the Old Testament, which of course boil down to:

“So shall the world go on,
To good malignant, to bad men benign,
Under her own weight groaning.” (XII 537 – 539)

That’s your fault there, Adam. Nice work.

He rushes through them though, and it makes me wonder whether Milton had originally intended to retell the entire Old Testament but got bored or intimidated or something. That would’ve been remarkable. Certainly Paradise Lost is better literature than the Old Testament is, and significantly more coherent.

It's also better literature than almost everything else. Second-best poem by a blind guy ever.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
1,028 reviews17.7k followers
September 19, 2023

The road winds in
Listlessness of ancient war,
Langour of broken steel,
Clamour of confused wrong, apt
In silence. Memory is strong
Beyond the bone. Pride snapped,
Shadow of pride is long....

Which way I turn is Hell -
Myself am Hell.

When T.S. Eliot visited the Scottish Highlands in his later years, he saw at first hand the site of the Glencoe Massacre at the time of the doomed Jacobite uprising of 1689.

As he mused, who knows if he also thought of his own earlier words on this poetry, poetry that was composed at a religiously fractious moment of British history in the same timeframe as Glencoe - Milton's Paradise Lost?

Perhaps he was remembering his comment that Milton could never endear himself to us readers.

But maybe also this great twentieth century poet called to mind, as he meditated on war and pride, his own opinion that "there is no wisdom beyond the wisdom of humility.“

Pride begins and ends all wars, and pride can be the downfall of anyone’s religion.

But humility is grace.

And pride is the last enemy we must defeat on the road to self-knowledge.

John Milton was a proud man, and he was valiantly attempting to "work out (his) salvation with diligence" - as Eliot‘s character of the psychiatrist says in The Cocktail Party - within the confines of a religion of Love, in which his own immense ego could barely fit.

A doomed enterprise.

As it was for me. My wounded heterosexual ego - for years - was crushed by the modern burden of sexual diversity.

And the crushed, blind Milton of the later Samson Agonistes was still smothered in the smoky remnants of a hellish pride, as is his Satan in this work - with whom Milton subconsciously sympathizes.

And that's the problem.

William Blake, in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, implies that Satan’s fall is in reality Jesus’ fall, which totally appalls me, but there, but for Grace, have gone I. Obviously with this revelation evidence is mounting that Milton was Gnostic.

What is a Gnostic? Someone who puts themselves first, over against God and goodness (more than guilty, your honour). So Gnosticism is the oldest cult of them all.

Again, that applies to my own dark past. For as John Milton was rooting for the puritanical underdogs over and against the “licentious” Stuarts, so did I, albeit in a more modern sexual context.

Which is it - the humility of the Lord or the pride of Satan? Get with the program, Fergus!

It seems that as long as we, like Milton, seek a separate transcendence from our fellows in our beliefs, those beliefs will be to some extent defined by pride.

Pride seeks transcendence; while humility abases itself to a state of immanence. There may be no religious faith other than the Pauline one which accepts the full weight of life’s inherent problematics.

Many outside of faith, similarly, seek transcendence - some in great power, though others through idealizing their ideas of sexuality and living those ideals through their acts.

If you take your life without those transcendent ideals you’re on the right path, though it hurts like all get out to do that. Yet that’s what Christian existentialists like Kierkegaard and Jaspers tell us to do. I must learn ever anew from them.

Milton lived in his poetic ideals as others among us live in their sexual ideals. And so life becomes for them a game to be won ever anew, until old age puts the kibosh to all that.

Yet, those who seek in resignation to live life in forever experiencing its problematic aspects, will be forever renewed in its vigour. Any form of escape will prove to be spiritual suicide.

The majestic, rumbling cadences of this great work inspire our awe, but the epic doesn't satisfy, because of this inherent duality of meaning and intent.

For the real meaning of Losing Paradise is found in the transcendence of pride.

So, to sum up: The epic battles are incredible, but they are filled with the "clamour of confused wrong."

The poetry floors us, but the ego of its author turns us off. (And I apologize for my identical behaviour here.)

The overall architecture is superb, but there is a crack in its cornerstone.

Five stars for an otherwise incredible masterpiece of literature.

A fractured masterpiece - to more objectively wary (and rightly so) modern eyes.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
September 9, 2018
Paradise Lost is the quintessential epic poem and its protagonist, Satan, is the quintessential anti-hero.

“Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.”


It’s almost impossible to read this without, in some way, sympathising with him. Although he is vain, full of pride and evil, he is still a fallen angel. And that’s kind of important. In the early cantos he is powerful, persuasive and godly though he, ultimately, becomes corrupted by his own selfish desires and ruins himself. He is blinded by ambition and God’s glory. He is jealous and power hungry and reals over what he will never have. He deteriorates and festers, becoming more evil as his pain increases. The hell he feels at his separation from God is projected outwards and he looses himself in maelstrom of emotions that inflict his soul. He lives in denial and becomes demented that much so he is reduced to the form of a snake. The once magnificent angel, tall and proud, now slithers on the floor with the beasts.

Satan is fearless. Eternal damnation did not make him baulk. As a form of petty revenge for his perpetual banishment from heaven, Satan determines to corrupt mankind and prove that God’s creation is fallible, weak and debased. He creates Sin and Death, his children, the means of entering Earth through hell. Through temptation he has his victory, Eve eats the apple in the garden of eden because of his coercion. God punishes Adam and Eve, banishing them to Earth. Satan has achieved his goal, though his fate remains unchanged and his once noble intentions have become so distorted that he becomes the very personification of evil.

“Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”


The poem interprets the idea of salvation and redemption present in the bible. Despite his crimes, Satan never attempts a reconciliation. Humanity, on the other hand, toils on earth, worships god, and seeks forgiveness. It displays the idea that obedience to God is the creed in which one should live by and that all hierarchies exist for a reason, to break them is to break the rule of God. As such, some critics see political arguments within the text, arguing that Satan represents Oliver Cromwell, the usurper, and that God represent Charles I, the lord and king of the lands. It’s an interesting reading, for sure.

Like all great poetry, Paradise Lost can be read in many different ways. The religious allegory and imagery is excellent. There’s so much to say about this poem, and it has influenced so many other writers in the centuries after its original publication. I wonder how much so though. I can think of numerous examples in modern literature that would not have existed if not for the influence and pertinence of the ideas presented here. Putting aside the beauty of the poetry, and the allegories, it's a fantastic story that has permeated so many others: it's legacy endures.

It’s a powerful piece, and the tragic story of Satan will always remain the most endearing aspect of it for me.

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Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
March 6, 2019
When I think of Milton's epic poem about Satan and his fall from grace, I most frequently think of two anecdotes apart from the actual work, brilliant and a foundation of modern literature as it is.

First, I recall the scene from Animal House, when Donald Sutherland begins a smarmy, condescendingly pretentious question to his class about Milton's intentions for introducing Satan as such an interesting character, punctuating the delivery with a crisp bite of his apple. As the bell rings and the class dutifully escapes from his lecture, he deflates and mutters about how boring it all is.

Secondly, I recall a misadventure I had in college. At the time I was an honors English student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, back in the post ice age times of the late eighties. I unslung my Civil War musket and headed to class, knowing that I had been guilty of aggravated student procrastination. Due that very morning was a paper (we actually used to physically write out essays back then, with pen or pencil and on an essay book) and my very ambitious subject was a comparison between the literary styles of epic and tragedy, and using as examples Milton's Paradise Lost and Shakespeare's King Lear. Not only was the paper not done, but I had not completely read either work!

I jaunted into class with the intention of asking for a couple of days extra, to "clean up my notes". My professor, who up to that time had been a model of undergraduate cool, now turned authoritarian and replied, "no" it was due no later than the end of the day. I could drop it off at her office by four pm.

Keeping my cool, I just had to tidy up the final draft after all, I walked out of class, down the hall, and then broke into a loping, lycanthropic run for my room. To this day, almost thirty years later, I can remember the soul crushing dread of sitting down and staring at my painfully scanty notes.

Well, sports fans, I turned in one for the ages, slinging more excrement than a West Texas cow rancher in springtime. Not only were Milton and Shakespeare comparable, they were best mates, tennis doubles partners and drinking buddies. The two works were like Forrest and Jenny, peas and carrots.

B minus.

Profile Image for Patrick Oden.
Author 12 books28 followers
April 18, 2007
Portions of this book were assigned for my Brit Lit class. I read about half of the assigned portions. I was distracted at the time by various events in life and wasn't yet a very good student.

My professor had done his PhD work on Milton and taught with a contagious passion. So much passion that I decided, after the discussion was over, to buy the whole book. During our five day Fall break in my sophomore year I sat on the front lawn of my college and read Paradise Lost. Nonstop, getting up for meals and other important breaks but otherwise spending that whole break reading Milton. Hardly anyone else remained on campus. The weather was cool and breezy and beautiful. I sat under a tree and read lengthy portions out loud, which helped me get into the rhythm. Once in the rhythm of reading I tasted heaven itself. This book was an awakening for me, a trigger that opened up my soul and allowed me to understand a small portion of eternity. It was an epiphany weekend for me, one which transformed my soul, and remains in many ways an anchor for my faith. During the dark times of my soul I remembered those days and knew, knew, knew there was something to still hope for.

This is a hard read and one that likely requires a lot of space, quiet and time. It takes a while to get into his rhythm and finally dance with his words, but if you can, if you can get away from this world for a while and devote yourself to Milton's work you'll find a new reality opening up. The man saw heaven. The man knew God. His writing is genius and extraordinary, far beyond anything else I've ever read.

This book, literally, changed my soul and my life.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
October 8, 2021
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton (1608–1674).

It is considered by critics to be Milton's major work, and it helped solidify his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of his time.

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, who are motivated by all too human temptations but whose ultimate downfall is unyielding love.

Marked by Milton's characteristic erudition, Paradise Lost is a work epic both in scale and, notoriously, in ambition.

For nearly 350 years, it has held generation upon generation of audiences in rapt attention, and its profound influence can be seen in almost every corner of Western culture.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: یکی از روزهای سال 2001میلادی

عنوان: بهشت گمشده - سه کتاب؛ نویسنده: جان میلتون؛ مترجم: شجاع الدین شفا؛ در سه جلد؛ موضوع: شعر شاعران بریتانیا - سده 17م

عنوان: بهشت گمشده - سه کتاب؛ نویسنده: جان میلتون؛ مترجم: فریده مهدوی دامغانی؛ تهران، تیر، 1379؛ در سه جلد؛ چاپ دوم 1383؛ چاپ سوم سال1385؛ شابک دوره: 9646581455؛ چاپ چهارم 1387؛ شابک9786008817185؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، ذهن آویز، 1393؛ چاپ پنجم سال1396؛ موضوع: شعر شاعران بریتانیا - سده 17م

نقل از ص 481، دفتر نخست سطر 20: (نخست تو سخن گوی! زیرا نه آسمان، نه گستره ی ژرفِ دوزخ، هیچ چیز را، از برابر دیدگانت، پوشیده نمیدارند! بگو چه چیزی موجب شد، که نیاکان گرامی ما را، همچنان که بس مورد لطف و رحمت الهی، قرار داشتند، و بر سراسر عالم فرمانروا بودند، از آن وطن، که سراسر خوشبختی بود، بیرون راندی، وز آفریننده ی خود جدا ماندند؟ آیا تنها بدان سبب، که به اراده ی او، در رعایت ممنوعیت آن میوه، سر ننهادند، و از فرمان ایشان سرپیچی کردند؟ ...؛ چه کسی آنان را به این شورش شرم آور، وسوسه کرد؟ مار دوزخی ....! همو بود که شرارت، که با حسادت و انتقامجویی اش، جان میگرفت، مادر نوع بشر را فریفت، غروری که وی را، به همراه خیل ابلیسیان نافرمان عصیانگرش، از فراز آسمان به پایین افکنده بود)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 26/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 15/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
595 reviews3,588 followers
November 30, 2020
EDIT 26/12/2018: I'm not answering comments on this review anymore because I find that I have to constantly repeat myself. If you feel the need to point out Paradise Lost is a classic and was written during an era when women had few rights, please refer to the comment section. I'm fucking done.

The 50-word review that launched a thousand trolls:

Fuck your misogyny. Fuck your scorning Greek gods as false gods, then using its mythology left and right as metaphors. Fuck your punishing the serpent when You knew it was possessed by Satan. Fuck—Ah, forget it.

Profile Image for Luís.
1,945 reviews610 followers
September 19, 2023
In the 17th century, there firmly drew a century after the Reformation's eruption, the lines of demarcation between Catholics and Protestants. After the theologians began to emerge secular Protestant literature, these austere Puritans fiercely rejected the frivolity of Catholic courts. Even more, the theatre was considered a place of debauchery and impiety. It is, therefore, from the Bible that they draw their inspiration.
It is probable that Milton long entertained the idea of ​​writing a great epic inspired by the book of Genesis and that he threw all his strength into it when the time came. The result was this long prose poem telling the story of the world's creation, from the fall of rebellious angels to the fall of man. Then, there are inspirations from the Iliad and Dante and new forms and ideas.
Like this way of starting in flashback, for example. The book opens with Satan and his defeated faithful, thrown to the bottom of Gehenna, discovering their desolate exile kingdom. But very quickly, they pull themselves together. It seems that somewhere, God would have created a new world inhabited by an unknown creature—man.
The form of the text is that of the seventeenth century and nowadays would pass for quite heavy and prolonged, but the descriptions are magnificent. The parade of demons, like towers covered in blood, could be the founding act of the heroic fantasy!
Milton adds to the list of all the gods of Egypt and Olympus. The war of angels and demons also narrates with the magnificence force and again did not have much to the comic's envy as 'Black Moon Chronicles.'
It was difficult for me to review this book. Severe and magnificent, it marks one of the turning points in European civilization. One can wonder if taken by his fire, he was of faithful respect towards the original work. But this critical edition is so magnificent that it is a work in itself!
Profile Image for Leo ..
Author 2 books382 followers
July 26, 2020
Is Satan coming? Are we in the End of Days?

Is the Earth heating, under the Sun's Rays?

Is it all make believe, manipulation, or true?

Why on this wonderful Earth, is everybody blue?

Are we in the Rapture? Impending Doom?

Lightning strikes, sink holes and thunderous sonic booms

Ebola and earth quakes, hurricanes and tornadoes too

Now I can see why we are feeling blue

Forest fires, tsunamis, land slides and Hail

Watching the mainstream news, it looks like Hell!

Fake news and propaganda, rhetoric , is it all that is seen

All this mayhem and misery, coming from the TV Screen

Terrorism, false flags, usury and greed

People living on top of each other, all race, and persuasion and creed

We would get along swimmingly, if we were not controlled, Lorded over by a few Elite, cabal, hidden

Knowledge kept esoteric, to us Forbidden

Is Satan Saturn? The father of time. Old Nick, as in the Nick of time

Are we trapped in a matrix, a primeval soup, dark matter, black slime?

So dense with materialism, constricting like a snake

Keeping up with this capitalism, something has to break

The serpent swallowing its tail, does capitalism work?

When the Elites own it all, people will go berserk

Orchestrated chaos, civil unrest, no food in the stores

Swallowed up like a black hole by Corporation Whores

Inflation going up but, no paid work for people

Replaced by Machines, useless eaters, Sheeple

Is the Earth a farm? Are we the characters in Orwell's animal farm?

All following the Pied Piper's musical charm

In the words of the Killers, are we dancer? following in Formation, to a tune

Like Lemmings, cartoon characters, loony toon

Is a policeman acting? As in acting police officer, is this all a game?

One is asked if we understand, or stand under, whilst having the point of blame

Look around, see what is really going on, ignore BBC, CNN and SKY

Make one's own decision, let them pass by

After all they are reading from a script, edited and photo shopped, they have the means to fake

Not some individual, who witnessed first hand, and managed to take

A picture with their mob phone, it must be real

Not according to MSM, its all fake, doctored and spiel

What is really going on in the skies?

Is the climate changing, geo engineering, or is it all lies?

Is Satan coming? Is it the End of Days?

Or is he already here? Been here always

Armageddon, Jihad, Ragnarok, it's all the same to me

Same story, different culture, that is History

So what is coming? What is going to happen? To Ye and Me?

One things for sure, you won't find out on the BBC

By Leo.🐯👍

If he is already here, where does he reside?

Is he out in the open? Or does he hide?

Hmmm! Maybe it is both, hidden in plain sight

The only few that know, illuminated by the false light!🐯👍

Maybe we are all Satan's children, Kids? Baby Goat of Mendes

When did Children suddenly become Kids? It is Madness

Yet parents call them thus

Am I unnecessarily causing a fuss?

Wake up and see, what words we use

Words that are there, only to confuse

Satan is androgynous! Both of Male and Female Sex

Our children, being indoctrinated, by a Witchcraft Hex

Nobody can see, this Paradigm changing fast

All rational debate, or thoughts, will be our last

As we move forward into this New World that is Abound

The opening of Hades, a Three Headed Hound

Return of the Old Ones, are we ready for this to begin?

A world where anything goes, a world of debauchery and sin. 👍🐯👍
Profile Image for J.G. Keely.
546 reviews10.2k followers
August 30, 2016
Milton wrote this while blind, and claimed it was the result of divine inspiration which visited him nightly. There are few texts that could reasonably be added into the Bible, and this is certainly one of them (the Divine Comedy is another). Paradise Lost outlines portions of the Bible which, thanks to its haphazard combination of mythic stories, are never fully explored.

In fact, most of Paradise Lost has become tacitly accepted into the Christian mythos, even if most Christians do not recognize it as a source. It also updated not only the epic, but the heroic form, and its questioning of the devil is a great philosophical exploration, even if it may ultimately prove a failure, as I shall try to explain.

The question remains: even if the Vatican did not explicitly include it, why are there not smaller sects which so often spring up around such and inspiring and daring work? The answer is that one need not explicitly include something that has been included implicitly. Many readers accept Milton's view of events as accurate and that it was wholly derived from the Bible, when in fact, it is largely an original work.

Under Constantine, Hell and the Devil were re-conceptualized. The representation of Hell in the Bible is often metaphorical, and does not include 'fire and brimstone'. Hell is defined as 'absence from God' and nothing more. This is supposed to be a painful and unfulfilling experience, but not literal physical torture.

Much of the modern conceptualization of Hell is based upon Hellenic mythological influences and verses from Revelation taken out of context. The place of 'fire and brimstone' is where the Devil and the Antichrist are put after the apocalypse, and is never stated as being related to human afterlife.

Likewise, the Devil is most commonly depicted as a greedy idiot chasing after farts. The only tempting he ever does Biblically is during Job, where he must first ask God if he is permitted to interfere. The concept of the Devil as a charming, rebellious trickster and genius is entirely Milton.

He portrays him this way to align Satan with the heroic figures of Epic Poetry. This is not because he thinks of the Devil as a hero, but rather so he can show that our heroes should not be rebellious murderers as they were in ancient stories, but humble, pious, simple men.

He gives the Devil philosophical and political motivations for rebelling, but has him fail to notice that God cannot be questioned or defeated. However, this requires that one absolutely believe this assertion without ever testing it. Anyone who accepts it unquestioningly (such as C.S. Lewis) is bound to believe that the Devil is foolish to question the natural order.

However, Milton himself states that the Devil had no choice but to doubt, and due to our own rational minds, man cannot help doubting either. In this case, we might fall in with Blake, and suggest that Milton was the Devil's man, not because he wanted to be, but because he carried biblical rhetoric to its rational conclusion.

This is illustrated in a rather shocking way in the creation of Eve: finding herself, utterly new to the world, she sees her own reflection in a puddle and, finding it beautiful, leans down naively and tries to kiss it. This amusing retelling of the myth of Narcissus indicates that God made women naturally autoerotic and bisexual.

Sadly, this never made it into modern Christianity, for some reason, but it does show the strength of Paradise Lost: Milton provides rhetorical support for every idea he explores, even those he did not side with. It is a great book of questions, and a book which demands the reader think and try to understand.

We are supposed to sympathize with the Devil because he is heroic and dangerous, but we also know he is the Devil. We know that to sympathize with him is wrong, and that he is supposed to be wrong. Milton here invented the concept of the Devil we cannot help but sympathize with, and who we must fight daily to overcome.

He defined sin as doubt, but without realizing that doubt will always deconstruct an old answer and suggest a new one. The fact remains that metaphysically, doubt can only injure us in a realm we cannot know exists. As the enemy of any tyranny--of men, of ideas--doubt is the helpmeet of all who struggle. The Devil is the father of doubt, and the final outcome of doubt is always accepting that we are fundamentally ignorant: either in our believing, or in our not believing.

He also uses the English language in an entirely idiomatic and masterful way, his is one of the few unique voices of English. Reading him sometimes proves a challenge for those without a background in Latin, since his sentence structure and particularly his verb use are stripped-down and multipurpose, taking the form of metaphysical poets to its logical conclusion.

He is also one of the most knowledgeable and allusive of writers, especially when it comes to the longer form. His encyclopedic exploration of myths, reinvention of scenes, and adoption of ideas make this work one of the most wide-reaching and interconnected in English.

This can make his work somewhat daunting for readers, who are often unwilling to read the books he references in preparation for tackling him, which I find rather ironic, since no one complains about having to read ten-thousand pages of Harry Potter before tackling the last book.
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.6k followers
February 25, 2023
deciding to read a classic because i found the penguin clothbound edition on sale again.

works every time.

this, again, like so many classics, made me so grateful that i live NOW and not in a time when everything i read would be somewhere on the spectrum of boring, not to mention incredibly holy...

but this was pretty!

bottom line: i love being a 21st century reader, but this would have been top tier for 1600s me.

Profile Image for Luís.
1,945 reviews610 followers
February 12, 2023
This book is magnificent; I like the writings on religion and this poem. From the fall of Lucifer to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, I browsed the pages with happiness. The writing is splendid and full of sensitivity.
I have great admiration for John Milton. If I remember correctly, he was already blind when he wrote Paradise Lost. Yet, this man found the light in his darkness and transmitted it to readers through the ages.
I loved.
One last word for the underlining in this book: the written text of this work could hardly be understood—still, an outstanding result.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews488 followers
February 12, 2023
Paradise Lost was a literary product that was born from the need for an English epic poem. Greeks had Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey, and the Italians had Virgil's The Aeneid and Dante's The Divine Comedy (though not an epic in the strictest terms, has its characteristics). English literature was in want of such a work; and John Milton, from his early Cambridge days, was working on meeting this void. He was at first of the mind to write an epic, centering the story on their legendary King, Arthur. Milton saw this as an excellent subject to model his poem on the likes of The Iliad and The Aeneid. But such a poem never came to light, and by the time he was truly ready to write it, he has gone through many political, social, religious, and personal upheavals, so as to change his center theme from King Arthur to the biblical subjects. The result was the production of this epic poem, which is perhaps the only (I'm not certain as to this) and certainly the best epic poem of English literature.

Paradise Lost tells the biblical story of the creation of the world, from the time of rebellion and fall of Satan and his companion angels to the ultimate fall of man. However, throughout the poem, much was focused on the fall of man. The reason for this is that Milton's first and foremost purpose is to justify God's action towards man. God created Adam and Eve with free will. There was only one prohibition, and that was not to taste the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. They failed to adhere to this one subjection to which they were put. The act of tasting the apple was a blatant violation of their covenant with their divine maker. It was also an act of disobedience. And this disobedience is what made them fall from Divine grace and led to their ultimate banishment from Paradise.

Disobedience of God was seen by Milton as an act of cowardice. True heroism, according to him, was obedience to God as against the exercise of free will, and submission to life, whatever its condition may be, without losing faith. Obedience also leads to the question of superiority. There is a hierarchy in Heaven, Earth, and Hell with God being in the highest position. Man was superior to women, superior to beasts, so they top the hierarchy on earth. This hierarchical structure, however, questions the right of man to rule man. The kings of England always had an aura of divinity to their subjects. But Milton was of the view that kings, being men, cannot exercise divine power as they are in a lower position in the hierarchy and can govern their fellow men only if they are superior to their subjects. This explains why Milton supported the execution of King Charles I, whom he thought to be inferior and had no business in ruling men.

When one understands the themes of Paradise Lost, one can see that Milton was driving at moral actions rather than on military actions as the basis for the creation of nations. In this sense, his work resembles Dante's Divine Comedy. But that hadn't precluded Milton from drawing features from Homer's The Iliad. The battle scenes between Satan's army and Michael and Gabriel led heavenly forces resemble the battle between Greeks against the Trojans. Milton's knowledge of Greek and Italian had helped him to borrow the right characteristics from these great epics to add strength and beauty to his own poem.

Reading this epic poem wasn't daunting as I expected. Rather, from Book I, I was drawn in. The story and the setting fascinated me. Mastering the limitations of the English language, Milton has painted a beautiful picture through his words. They bring Heaven, Eden, Hell, and the biblical characters so vividly that one could almost visualize them. The story, though known, had a fresh and new appeal when reading it from Milton's words.

Paradise Lost had always been a must-read in my reading repertoire. Being finally able to read and finish it is like satisfying a long-awaited need. I truly enjoyed this masterpiece and can quite honestly say that it is the best epic poem that I've read after Dante's The Divine Comedy.
Profile Image for Rakhi Dalal.
212 reviews1,437 followers
June 29, 2017
“What does the word ‘Paradise’ signifies to a human being?” Is it the state of blissfulness which one acknowledges in life owing to the absence of all fears as can be experienced in this dwelling place of ours? Or is it an actual place somewhere in heaven which is the ultimate goal that humans wish to achieve?

As a child, I had a profound belief in the idea of God and heaven too. Yes, and perhaps the reason I wished to believe in him was the fact that world seemed a beautiful place, a place where everything was just as it should have been; Loving parents and siblings, affectionate neighbors, and an innocent belief, one which leads a child to trust even an unknown smiling stranger on the road. But that was a long time ago. Times have changed faster since then. Faster than I could get a chance to put everything together and analyze the reason why it changed. It changed almost everyday since I grew big enough to understand that not every stranger could be trusted. The affectionate neighbors or relatives were not that amiable so as to forgive an innocent childhood indulgence, that parents were not the super humans, perfect and devoid of all faults, and that, nobody was perfect, not even me. And then the whole world started to seem to be at disharmony. There were people belonging to different strata of society, people rich, and poor and in between, people belonging to different castes, creeds and countries, people fighting with each other over smaller issues like standing in a row to bigger issues like fighting for a territory in a country; Countries going at war, hatred and more hatred. Slowly the faith started to crumble and ultimately it shattered. My Paradise was lost forever.

At times it makes me shiver to consider that even my son, or for that matter any child, can go through the same experience.

I can personally relate to the title “Paradise Lost” as being the loss of faith in God, faith that affirms the presence of a caring and loving spirit, inaccessible but still closer to the souls of believers, something which they can hold onto. It is also a loss in the idea of necessity of human existence and of life itself. For me, the title also signifies the loss of the world as seen from the eyes of a child. This is the reason why the work fascinated me and I picked it up.

“Paradise lost” is undoubtedly a great work. There isn’t much I can write to appreciate its significance as the work of an art. The book is a beautiful exploration into the biblical characters of Satan, Adam and Eve, their thoughts and conversations and their FALL. The title here signifies the loss of “Paradise” or “heaven”, which is God’s abode, for them. It is shown as the loss for ‘Satan’ as well as for ‘Adam and eve’, the loss due to their fall. Satan falls when he tries to become equal to GOD and Adam and Eve fall when they eat the prohibited fruit.

In the end, the angel says following words to Adam to let them redeem their paradise:

“This having learnt, thou hast attained the summe
Of wisdom; hope no higher, though all the Starrs
Thou knewst by name, and all th’ ethereal Powers,
All secrets of the deep, all Natures works,
Or works of God in Heav’n, Air, Earth, or Sea,
And all the riches of this World enjoydst,
And all the rule, one Empire; onely add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable, add Faith,
Add Vertue, Patience, Temperance, add Love,
By name to come call’d Charitie, the soul
Of all the rest: then wilt thou not be loath
To leave this Paradise, but shalt possess
A Paradise within thee, happier farr.”

May we be able to find our own Paradises within ourselves!
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
September 7, 2009
(Joint review with JORDAN)

[A projection room somewhere in Hollywood. Two middle-aged men are looking at a screen, currently empty:]

JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: [for it is he:] Okay Mike, now you've been playing this pretty close to your chest. Show me what you've got.

MICHAEL BAY: I'd love to.

[The film starts. We see the Garden of Eden. Nothing much is happening. The camera pans around and finally looks at some pretty KUROSAWA-inspired clouds. On the voiceover, ANTHONY HOPKINS, as the Narrator, is reading Paradise Lost:]

HOPKINS: Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe...

BRUCKHEIMER: [almost physically ill:] Mike, how could you do this to me?

[BAY looks smug and says nothing:]

HOPKINS: ... Illumin, what is low raise and support;
That to the highth of this great Argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justifie the wayes of God to men.

BRUCKHEIMER: Tell me I'm not hearing this.

[On cue, MEGAN FOX appears, walking in slo-mo and wearing nothing but an entrancing smile. Various bits bounce interestingly:]

BRUCKHEIMER: Hey! Didn't she say you were like Hitler?

BAY: Megan and I understand each other.

[A moment later, we see ROBERT PATTINSON, dressed in similar fashion. BRUCKHEIMER suddenly brightens up:]

BRUCKHEIMER: Mike, don't ever do that to me again. O-kaay. Well, this oughta pack in the Twilight fans. But are you sure we should be showing his...

[BAY is way ahead of him. He gestures to the PROJECTIONIST, who immediately switches to a different shot of the same scene. Various strategically placed branches, stones, leaves etc have restored PATTINSON's modesty à la AUSTIN POWERS:]

BRUCKHEIMER: Better. Wait, is he sparkling?

BAY: It's just the lights. We can fix that in post-editing.

BRUCKHEIMER: And I'm still not happy about the language. No one'll understand a word of it.

BAY: Come on, Jerry. Think Passion of the Christ. Think Apocalypto. Think Inglourious Basterds...

BRUCKHEIMER: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but they had subtitles. Okay, we'll talk about that later. Show me some of the action sequences.

[Another cut. Alarums. Excursions. CGI effects. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, holding a massive laser weapon, is blasting away at what appears to be a horde of DECEPTICONS:]

HOPKINS: ... Full soon
Among them he arriv'd; in his right hand
Grasping ten thousand Thunders, which he sent
Before him, such as in thir Soules infix'd
Plagues; they astonisht all resistance lost...

BRUCKHEIMER: Jesus Christ.

BAY: Who else?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Eat wrath-of-God, muthafuckas!

[BRUCKHEIMER raises an eyebrow. BAY looks defensive:]

BAY: It was an ad lib. We haven't decided yet if we're going to keep it.

[An awkward pause:]

BAY: Do you think we should give him a halo?

BRUCKHEIMER: The religious right will like that. I'd say go with it. So I guess you have Dan Craig as Satan?

BAY: Budget said we couldn't afford him. Let me show you what we came up with.

[Cut. MICHAEL DOUGLAS, as Satan, faces GLENN CLOSE. She looks like a rather scarier version of Cruella de Vil:]

DOUGLAS: What thing thou art, thus double-form'd, and why
In this infernal Vaile first met thou call'st
Me Father, and that Fantasm call'st my Son?
I know thee not, nor ever saw till now
Sight more detestable then him and thee.

BRUCKHEIMER: Who the fuck is she? I haven't read this since high school.

BAY: It's Sin. His ex.

CLOSE: ... Becam'st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'st
With me in secret, that my womb conceiv'd
A growing burden...

[Flashback. A much younger version of CLOSE, with frizzy blonde hair as in Fatal Attraction, is taking joy with DOUGLAS over a celestial sink:]

BRUCKHEIMER: [Doubtful:] Will the 16-24 demographic get it?

BAY: Research is working on that. We're thinking she could maybe boil Eve's bunny. I'll show you another bit.

DOUGLAS: [Making speech:] ... Here we may reign secure; and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition, though in hell:
Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.

BRUCKHEIMER: Cut it. Too talky.

BAY: Yup, that's what we thought too. It's out.

BRUCKHEIMER: So how do we wrap this up? I remember it had a crap ending. Total downer too.

[Commotion outside. Raised voices. Suddenly, the door opens, and TILDA SWINTON strides in wearing her White Witch costume:]

BRUCKHEIMER: What the...

SWINTON: Eve was framed!

[She raises her wand and zaps BRUCKHEIMER and BAY, who are instantly transformed into snakes:]


BAY: Hiss!

BRUCKHEIMER: Fucking hiss!

SWINTON: [to camera:] The end.
Profile Image for فؤاد.
1,066 reviews1,759 followers
April 19, 2017
شيطان بعد از سقوطی سخت، به هوش مياد و خودش رو در دره اى تاريك و موحش مى بينه. اما بدون اين كه خودش رو ببازه، سرشار از خشم و طعنه، به يكى از يارانش نهيب ميزنه كه خودش رو جمع و جور كنه. بعد بالاى كوهى ميره و قلمروى دوزخ كه با تمام سپاهیان فرشتگان عصیانگر بهش تبعيد شده رو از نظر می گذرونه. لشکر نوميد و شكست خورده ش رو احضار مى كنه، و با اقتدار فرياد مى زنه: ما شكست نخورديم، ما در حقيقت پيروز شديم! چون نشون داديم پايه هاى سلطنت خدا اون قدرها هم تزلزل ناپذير نيست، و اگه كمى بيشتر تلاش مى كرديم، مى تونستيم از عظمت كبريايى ش سرنگونش كنيم! پس خودتون رو آماده کنید و بيايد يه بار ديگه باهاش زور آزمايى كنيم!

و به اين ترتيب، بهشت گمشده حماسه الهى، آغاز ميشه، با نقش آفرينىِ:

در هيئت جوانى زيبا با زرهى از طلا و الماس و سپرى از اثير كه به پشت مى بنده و دو بال فرشته گونه، سرشار از هوش و غرور و شجاعت و آزادى خواهى، با احساساتى جريحه دار شده كه بعد از شكست آمیخته شده با نوميدى و سر خوردگى - كه سعى مى كنه پنهانش كنه - و خشم و نفرت و كينه: یک قهرمان بایرونی تمام عیار؛

خدا و پسرش و باقى فرشته ها
كه با محافظه كارى درست شبيه كتب مقدس تصوير شدن؛

آدم و حوا
با زيبايى عريان، در عين حال خردمند و نادان - نادانى معصومانه ى كودكانه - و شبيه زن و شوهرى كه در لايه هاى زيرين دچار مشكل هستن اما در ظاهر با رفتارهايى تصنعى به هم عشق مى ورزن، و از همين حالا معلومه كه قراره يه روز اين ناسازگارى بروز كنه و هر كدوم با نفرت تقصير رو گردن اون يكى بيندازه!

و با حضور افتخارىِ:
نوح و ابراهيم و موسى
در مكاشفه اى كه براى آدم دست ميده.


جان ميلتون، شاعر انگليسى، بهشت گمشده رو در سال ١٦٦٧ منتشر كرد. كتاب از دوازده دفتر تشكيل شده كه ماجراى آشنای نخستين روزهاى خلقت به روايت عهد عتيق رو بازگو مى كنه. داستان از سقوط شيطان آغاز و با هبوط آدم ختم ميشه. و در اين ميان، بخش هايى رو روايت مى كنه كه توى روايت كتب مقدس ناگفته موندن: دلایل شیطان برای نافرمانی از خدا (ميگه: "کدام کس می تواند حقّ فرمانروایی بر کسانی را داشته باشد، که گرچه از لحاظ قدرت یا عظمت برابر او نیستند، دست کم از لحاظ آزادی با او برابرند و بنا به حق، یکسان می زیند؟") ، نبرد بزرگ فرشتگان طرفدار خدا و طرفداران شیطان، اختراع توپ و باروت توسط شیطان، سقوط شیطان به عمق دوزخ و دلداری دادن یارانش، برپاساختن قصری باشکوه در دل دوزخ به عنوان پایتخت شیاطین، توصیف دوزخ و بهشت، زندگی آدم و حوا در بهشت قبل از هبوط و خيلى چیزاى دیگه. به عبارت ديگه، ميلتون تا حدودى از داستانى آشنا، آشنايى زدايى كرده و نسخه ى خودش رو تعريف كرده. كه الحق نسخه ى خوندنى و هيجان انگيزيه، مخصوصاً اگه به داستان هاى فانتزى حماسى علاقه مند باشيد.


کتاب دو ترجمه داره: یکی از "شجاع الدین شفا" که نثر فاخرش و جملات زیباش آدم رو مسحور می کنه، و یکی "فریده دامغانی" که نثر معمولی تری داره.
متأسفانه شجاع الدین شفا فقط سه دفتر از دوازده دفتر بهشت گمشده رو ترجمه کرده، در نتیجه ترجمه ش ناقصه. و لاجرم باید ترجمه فریده دامغانی رو خوند. ترجمه هایی که روی اینترنت موجوده همه ترجمه ی ناقص شجاع الدین شفا هستن. اما این چندان بد هم نیست: توصیه می کنم اول همین ترجمه (که نود صفحه بیشتر نیست) رو بخونید. این سه دفتر، از قشنگ ترین بخش های کتاب هستن. هر چی کتاب جلوتر میره، حضور شيطان كمتر ميشه و در نتيجه از جذابیت داستان كاسته ميشه. اگه مجذوب این سه بخش شدید و خواستید ادامه ی داستان رو بخونید، ترجمه ی فریده دامغانی رو تهیه کنید. وگرنه، دنبالش نرید.
Profile Image for J. Sebastian.
68 reviews60 followers
July 8, 2021
Upon arrival at the last page of this epic story, a rich symphony of beauty, expressing the loss of Paradise in gorgeous arrangements of language wherein each word is precisely chosen, I am left, book in hand, contemplating the rich tapestry of song that Milton has woven on the loom of English heroic verse; the finished whole is vast in its sweep and exquisite in its details. I am stunned by its beauty, and left speechless as I follow Adam out of Eden, ruddy with a majestic glow in expectation of the birth and return of our loving King.

Milton knew ten languages (Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic, English, Italian, French, Spanish, & Dutch). Paradise Lost is full of Linguistic and literary allusions; Milton avails himself both of the words and the syntax of other languages, and makes purposeful allusions to famous passages in other books. As a minor example in Book I. 34-36, John Leonard points out the possibility of a pun in the Latin derivative deceived:

Th' infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived
the mother of mankind,

with 'dis-Eved' (cross-linguistic wordplay with the Hebrew chava 'life' (Eve), and thus conveying the meaning 'un-lifed', 'deprived of life'). This is in fact, trademark Miltonic multilingual artistry. Milton relishes in his languages, and uses them to great effect. This is a very small and isolated example of the gems of linguistic virtuosity that lie waiting to be discovered by the astute and careful reader as the song progresses and unfolds.

In Milton's Languages, John Hale argues that Milton's choice to write in English––in an age when Latin is still the obvious choice to ensure a wide audience––was motivated by the fact that English was, among all his languages, the one that allowed for the greatest versatility in this manner of interlinguistic and intertextual allusiveness. The final work, wherein English seemlessly adopts Latin word order and idiom is a masterpiece, and places Milton eternally in the traditional line with the other great epic poets of the west: Homer (Greek), Ennius & Vergil (Latin), Dante (Italian), Milton (English). An English contemporary of Milton writes of him with national pride and affection thus:

Græcia Mæonidem, jactet sibi Roma Maronem
Anglia Miltonum jactat utrique parem.

Let Greece her Homer, Rome her Vergil boast.
England boasts her Milton equal to them both.

Milton is another reason I am happy to have learned English young; he celebrated his native English, addressing it thus with love

Hail native Language, that by sinews weak
Didst move my first endeavouring tongue to speak,

and chose it for the language of his glorious and majestic English epic. Every English speaker should someday read it.

See also:
Milton's Languages, by John K. Hale.
Profile Image for James.
Author 20 books3,723 followers
September 19, 2017
Book Review
3.5 out of 5 stars for Paradise Lost, the first of a two-book series, written in 1667 by John Milton. I've only read the first book in this series, but would like to read the second piece at some point. These are epic poems telling of the battle between Satan and God for control over the human soul. It's truly an introspective piece, as I believe Milton threw so much of himself, as well as people in general, into this work. It's captured the attention of so many people, and not just readers. It's the foundation of several films and television adaptions. Some argue it loses focus on the religious aspects; others praise it for being very open to different experiences. It's the kind of literature that pushes you to think about voice and characters. About different sides to a story and alternative opinions. How does it feel to agree with Satan? Do you accept being disappointed in something God says because it's something you thought was OK to do? So much in the words, but also the message is even more powerful. It's a lot to digest, but if you haven't read it, look up a few passages to see if the lyrical tone is something you can absorb while reading the words. It may help give you some perspective on different aspects of life and death.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.
Profile Image for Fernando.
684 reviews1,127 followers
March 31, 2022
La lucha entre Dios y Lucifer ("El que lleva la luz"), devenido en Satanás explicada de manera alternativa a la que conocemos de la Biblia.
John Milton terminó dictándoles este libro a sus hijas ya ciego con una imaginería propia de los grandes genios de la literatura. Sus últimos veinte años fueron vividos en la oscuridad. Del mismo modos que otros autores como Jorge Luis Borges y James Joyce, a Milton no le amedrentó para crear esta epopeya, una de las más grandes e ilustres que nos dio la literatura junto con “La Ilíada” y “La Odisea” de Homero, “La divina comedia” de Dante Alighieri o “La Eneida” de Virgilio.

Pero esto no es todo: muy poco tiempo después, Milton, dictará a sus hijas “El Paraíso recobrado” en una muestra de su talento y sabiduría propia de los más grandes autores clásicos que pisaron este planeta.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,256 followers
November 20, 2014
Who but a blind man could so vividly write of the darkness of Hell?

Paradise Lost is fire and passion. It is the pinnacle and the bottomless pit. It is the struggle for all that is good. It is the struggle within the evil of all evils.

In the mid-1600s John Milton, aging and gone blind, dictated his most famous work, Paradise Lost, an epic poem that harkens back to Homer and Virgil. It not only tells the so very well-known story of Adam and Eve, it also describes the downfall of Satan in dramatic fashion. The empathy shown for this most famous of fallen angels is, for me, one of the most outstanding sections of this early work of English literature.

Epic is a laughably overused word these days. However, the depiction of Mammon and Beelzebub marshaling their demonic minions for the coming war is the stuff of ancient epics.


Tolkien and Lewis most definitely borrowed heavily from these passages of Milton's when penning their own epics.

The language has aged. Some of this is archaic and occasionally difficult to understand. But stick with it and you shall be rewarded.

Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,102 followers
June 6, 2020
Next to Shakespeare, Milton's Paradise Lost is probably one of the best and most enduring of the English Classics.

That's surprising, really, because, let's face it: not to many people in the modern crowd reads poetry these days. Or they don't try because they assume it's going to be too difficult.

Of course, they're probably not trying Milton. It's not only easy to read and gorgeously crafted, but it's also FULL of action, full of thrills, and it just plain kicks ass.

Don't let the topic fool you. It may have to do with the fall of Satan and then the fall of Adam and Eve, but Milton is a rockstar of the literature world. We jump right into the thick of the fall of all the rebellious angels right after an epic war in heaven.

Not only is Milton courageous enough to make Satan sympathetic and he's never once referred to as "evil", but he makes Satan even persuade ME. Make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven, indeed.

We get the epic battle in heaven. We get all the dark and disturbing reasons for the rebellion. We get the jealousy, the sense of injustice, and we get it again when the same kind of predestined plot hits humanity.

So many of the darkest questions are explored. And this isn't a simple epic poem. It's not all flowery language, but it IS that at its best moments. It's intense and it's fantastically rich with mythology and history and scholarship -- as you might expect -- but more than that, it's just plain GOOD.

It's classic in the sense that it will never go out of style. It's good in a way that when we read it now, it is like the best of our modern fiction. Great stylistic and plot devices, fantastic characterization, and depth.

Of course, when I first read this, I was in college and we were required to read the bible to get all the great references and compare the differences, and I DO recommend that if only for comparative analysis in literature, but it's not necessary.

This is an action movie. :)
Profile Image for Agir(آگِر).
437 reviews509 followers
July 29, 2016
از خود کتاب زیاد لذت نبردم ولی توضیحات مترجم در مورد اطلاعات تاریخی و مذهبی خوب بود. در نتیجه فقط یکی بحث های جالب کتاب را در اینجا می آورم

:مسئله غامض جبر و اختیار آدمی

جان میلتون در دفتر سوم می گوید: عقل اساس انتخاب است و خدا از اطاعت کورکوانه بندگانش و فقط در خدمت الزام، احساس خرسندی ندارد و بخاطر همین آفریدگان را آزاد آفریده است و علم لدنی خداوند هیچگونه اثری در گناهی که انسان ها خواهند کرد ندارد

اما مترجم در توضیحات چیز دیگری می گوید: معلوم نیست چطور انسان در ارتکاب گناهی اختیار دارد که خداوند،پیش از وقوع حتمی آن وقوف داشته و عواقب آن را به چشم می دیده است و اگر آدم توانسته است به اختیار خود از آن سر باز زند،در این صورت علم آن کس که واقف السر و الخفیات است باطل می شده است

:این همان سخن خیام است
می خوردن من ز ازل می دانست
گر می نخورم علم خدا جهل بود

و حافظ با نزاکت تمام مسئله اختیار را مورد تخطئه قرار می دهد
گناه گرچه نبود اختیار ما حافظ
!تو در طریق ادب کوش و گو گناه من است

در قرآن به کرات از این موضوع و با صراحت سخن رفته است و یادمه در کتاب غروب فرشتگان، ارمنی هایی که قرآن خوانده بودند مسلمانان را طبق آیات قرآن، جبری می دانستند

هر مصیبتی که در زمین یا از نفس خودتان به شما رسد همه در لوح محفوظ پیش از آنکه دنیا را آفریده باشیم ثبت بوده است
سوره حدید،آیه 22

خداوند هر کس را بخواهد هدایت، و هر که را بخواهد، گمراه می کند
النور،آیه 46

و حتی به پیامبرش می‌فرماید: چنین نیست که هر کس را تو بخواهی هدایت شود، بلکه هر کس را که خدا بخواهد هدایت می‌شود
القصص،آیه 56

در تورات هم آیات مشابهی در این باره آمده است
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 2 books1,356 followers
July 5, 2017
I still have my old grad school copy of this work, earnestly annotated with references to Ovid and Homer and (once) Terminator 2. But through all that Milton's words shine forth, depicting the struggle between good and evil, which is a struggle precisely because Satan is so alluring and interesting (by far the most interesting character here, which of course didn't escape the notice of later Romantic writers who were themselves drawn to the anti-hero). But the struggle isn't just between mythic forces, but within the human heart itself, which is what gives the work its under-girding of tender sadness--like the outcry of the "Portress of Hell Gate," who laments in Book II: "Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem / Now in thine eye so foul, once deemed so fair / In Heav'n...." It's a tale of loss (obviously) and jealousy and narcissism (cue the Ovid references) and it's really quite unexpectedly heart-breaking at times, though I'll admit the poetry can be dense and difficult and full of allusions, which is perhaps why it didn't become a "classic" until a few decades after publication when someone produced an annotated version. Still, this is a work that can be enjoyed on its own terms--a self-consciously grand epic.
Profile Image for Liz Janet.
579 reviews384 followers
April 9, 2018
“This having learnt, thou hast attained the summe
Of wisdom; hope no higher, though all the Starrs
Thou knewst by name, and all th’ ethereal Powers,
All secrets of the deep, all Natures works,
Or works of God in Heav’n, Air, Earth, or Sea,
And all the riches of this World enjoydst,
And all the rule, one Empire; onely add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable, add Faith,
Add Vertue, Patience, Temperance, add Love,
By name to come call’d Charitie, the soul
Of all the rest: then wilt thou not be loath
To leave this Paradise, but shalt possess
A Paradise within thee, happier farr.”



This is the story of the Fall of Man from Eden, the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan, and the loss of their almost tangible relationship with God, however, later on, we realize the most beautiful story, is that of the fall of Satan, his descent into Tartarus, his role in the Angelic War, and his quest to destroy God's most precious creation, humanity. Satan is the main protagonist, the protagonist of one of the greatest poems, not just of English literature, but of all time. This is not to say that it is his sole story, nor that this was Milton's purpose, but to the regular man, Satan represents most of what humanity is, a brash, arrogant, confident, flawed, curious, courageous, hypocritical, mostly all that encompasses the human experience.


For his desire for more, his need to be appreciated over God's flawed creation, leads him to befall to the darkest pit of Hell, and he vows revenge, and boy does he get it.
The second strength of this poem, aside Satan, comes from the magnificent black verse in which it is written.
“Farewel happy Fields
Where Joy for ever dwells: Hail horrours, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time.
The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less then he
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.”

This traitorous angel actually managed to make Hell sound good, not amazing, but a paradise for free-thinkers apparently. he saw himself as such a saviour to those that followed him, that sometimes, in our hearts, we feel a tinny bit sad for his outcome. And then we remember it is because of him that many horrid things happen and we feel good that he is where he is again. BUT HE IS THE MOST HUMAN CHARACTERS OF ALL THE ONES IN THE POEM.


“I sung of chaos and eternal night, Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down the dark decent, and up to reascend...”

Milton wrote this for humans to have an understanding of all God did all the way to the Great Flood. Which has led many to question: Why does Satan have a political reason to rebel against God? Why was God such a barbarian? Why is Satan our temptation still? Why is Gabriel such a do-gooder and butt-kisser? Why does he give Adam and Eve such vague hope, "a paradise within thee, happier far"? WHY IS SATAN SO CHARISMATIC WHEN HE IS SUPPOSE TO BE THE BAD GUY? I am not sure we get the answers to these questions unless we look very close, I am of those that rather remain with the questions.


“All is not lost, the unconquerable will, and study of revenge, immortal hate, and the courage never to submit or yield.”
We are made to sympathize with the Devil, but we are also to know that doing so is wrong, and that no man should align themselves with him. The debate is left to us, we make the final choice, and choosing wrong will lead us down a similar path to Lucifer.



Now look at this description of God's creation:
“And of the sixth day yet remained
There wanted yet the master work, the end
Of all yet done: a creature who not prone
And brute as other creatures but endued
With sanctity of reason might erect
His stature and, upright with front serene,
Govern the rest, self-knowing, and from thence
Magnanimous to correspond with Heaven,
But grateful to acknowledge whence his good
Descends, thither with heart and voice and eyes
Directed in devotion to adore
And worship God supreme who made him chief
Of all His works.”

Better Than Food: Book Reviews did an incredible review, it is my favourite for this book so far: John Milton - Paradise Lost
The images used here were drawn by Gustave Doré, they are most beautiful. He also did Dante's Inferno and The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, all equal in beauty.
Profile Image for Ahmed.
910 reviews7,449 followers
February 3, 2016

توجد بعض الأعمال التي يليق بها القداسة حتى ولو لم تكن من طرف الإله , وإلا لماذا أقسم الله في محكم آياته بما يسطر القلم فقال : (ن وَالْقَلَمِ وَمَا يَسْطُرُونَ) , فالله يعلم أن من البشر من سيسطر أعمال تستحق التخليد والتعظيم أكثر مما يستحق سواها .

للحق : حاولت مرارًا وتكرارًا أن أكتب شئ عن هذا العمل , أن أُخرج فيه ما يليق بعظمته و جلاله.
ولكن هناك من الأعمال من وُجدت لتسيطر على عقولنا وتأخذنا معها لعالم آخر , عالم لن نصله إلا عبر سحر خاص , سحر الكلمة وما أعظمه من سحر.
الملاحم يا سادة وُجدت لتسطر التاريخ الإنساني , ليس فقط تاريخ حضاراته وحروبه , بل حتى تاريخ نشأته وتكوينه , ومراحل خلقه الأولى مذ كان في الجنة وخدعه الشيطان ليُعاقب بالنزول إلى الأرض.

ملحمة ملهمة عظيمة قوية ساحرة مبهرة أخاّذة بكل ما تحمله الكلمات من معنى , نوعية الكتب التي لا تجد ما يفيها عظمتها , ولو وُجدت معاني عظيمة , فهي وُجدت لتصف عظمتها.
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,279 followers
April 6, 2015
In poetic genius, Milton is the only English poet who could seriously rival Shakespeare. As they both were from around the same time period, they use similar language; but in style and substance, the two are worlds apart. Shakespeare has his feet firmly planted in human affairs—he can find the whole universe in a conversation on a lazy afternoon. Milton is epic in scale, taking the reader from the pit of Hell, through unformed Chaos, past Earth, all the way up to Heaven. Shakespeare’s mind travels through the world like a phantom, imbuing it with his own spirit, becoming everything at once but remaining himself nonetheless. Milton, by contrast, gathers the world into himself, melts it down, and reforges it anew.

This is one of the few books that repelled me on my first attempt. I was simply unprepared for the style of English, and I had too little reading experience to properly understand the many classical and Biblical references. On my second attempt, I did manage to finish the poem, though it was quite a slog. Nonetheless, many sections made a lasting impression on me, and I often found myself reminiscing about the poem.

I have just completed my second journey through this book. Every time I go over a line in this epic, it yields more fruit. The poem is simply beautiful. When attempting to articulate exactly why I love it so much, my words fail me, and I am left with that over-used cliché, "beautiful," but so it goes. I usually abhor re-reading books, but I anticipate reading Paradise Lost many times during my lifetime.

Part of why the poem is so compelling is Milton's portrayal of Lucifer. For those who wish to experience perhaps the best tragic character ever conceived—rivaling Oedipus, Faust, Hamlet, Captain Ahab, and King Lear—read this book. Unlike Dante, whose Satan is a dumb, savage brute, Milton's Satan is exquisitely human. The universe of Paradise Lost is not carved up into unambiguous Good vs. unambiguous Evil; it is, instead, a far more subtle, psychological realm of sin, disobedience, rebellion, lust, ambition, and folly. Satan is not evil, but ambitious to the point of insanity. And who could not identify with that?

But be warned: this book is difficult. Milton is one of the most educated writers of all time; his learning was vast and deep. The language, dense; the allusions, many; the journey, nigh endless. But it is one that you will remember fondly. In Milton's own words: “Long is the way, and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.” And, when it is over, you will perhaps find that the journey was a paradise.

And when you put the book down, you may mourn that your happy journey through Milton's epic has come to an end. But be not sad. For the poem will live on within the chambers of your mind, and "Thou shalt possess a Paradise within thee, happier far."
5 reviews1 follower
April 25, 2008
I hope no fan of Milton ever reads this review. And if you are a fan of Milton, go find one of many other reviews that will be a little better to your liking.

Had I read this book with the perspective of a student, or perhaps even as a potential instructor, I suspect my view of the twelve-book poem would have been far more favorable. As it was, I did not. Rather I read it as myself, a person who is rather sarcastic and critical of most things, but especially continuity errors.

I found myself stumbling not on the poetry, but on such things as the lengthy description of the pantheon of pandemonium being made with mined gold, wrought with comments on greed and how all those who look for such riches are doomed. This is impressed rather heavily, to be followed by the sun being made with gold and precious gems, heaven being full of similar wealth, and even Christ's chariot of 'sparkles dire' is studded with precious stones and capped with a sapphire throne (book six, line 750 starts you off on the description of the chariot).

Were I reading this as a student, I could probably make excuses for the different standards of wealth. I could probably even attempt to justify why Adam and Eve seem to gain absolutely nothing from eating the fruit of knowledge. Adam says often beforehand how working in the garden is good. They are told of Satan's presence in the garden and recognize this as being something to fear. Thus, they know of good and evil. After the fruit, the only alteration is a lustful interlude, to be followed by argument over it. Another angelic intervention where they are told everything to come, and they wander away in sorrowful hope. The Angels are thus the ones who are conveyors of knowledge, not the fruit of knowledge. And so, with Milton, it might as well be the Fruit of Lust and Damnation.

As it stands, and as I have read it, Paradise Lost was not what I would call an enjoyable work. I find no great epiphanies in it, or divine inspiration. I find a great deal of misogyny and even more references to classical myths that, if I didn't know it was perfectly fine in Milton's time to interweave Christianity and Greco-Roman myth, I would find a bit off. In total, it read like a rather bad biblical fanfiction with heavy crossover.

That being said, Paradise Lost is still a good work to read. For even if it strains my patience and sarcasm, it also gives an excellent perspective on quite a few quotes and characterizations that were to come after. In a way, the book is less important than what people have done with it over the years.
Profile Image for Alan.
Author 6 books302 followers
March 15, 2021
Recently, I read PL during my morning walks. Often aloud, it went surprisingly fast--about half a book per day, completed in a month. Of course, so many of the allusions, even with good footnotes and a lifetime of reading and a Ph.D. in 17C English lit, remain solidly beyond me, in a sempiternal world of classical and biblical allusion. But I read with the recognition that such allusions function as validating linkages, rather like real links online, or like Mercedes for the insecure.
This may be my fifth time through it in entirety, and I have taught principally Book 9, Adam and Eve, maybe two dozen times. Everytime through I discover a few lines that surprise me. This time, just after my retirement, I found a line I've been quoting to my still-working colleagues: "To sit in hateful Office, here confined...." This is Sin at the gates of Hell, early on in the poem, in the first three books.
I have in my memory perhaps 15 minutes of Paradise Lost, maybe my fave passage,
"Men called him Mulciber, and how he fell
From heav'n was fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o'er the crystal battlements. From morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve
A summer's day, and with the setting sun
Dropped from the zenith like a falling star
On Lemnos and the Aegean isle: thus they report,
Erring."(late in Bk 1)
Here we have the grand sweep and forward motion of the verse, like a chase scene.
And also, the added learned footnote and correction, so Puritanical, so Miltonic.

Wish I had memorized much more, as I do with Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare, and Dickinson (about an hour each). The organ voice of Milton's verse. The reserved parodic Andrew Marvell, my doctoral subject, Milton's assistant secretary of state, Latin Secretary--for all European countries and Russia then wrote in Latin.* The stone incisions of Yeats and Dickinson. (Marvell's verse critiques other poets, so my thesis, "This Critical Age," which ushered me into Larry Lipking's Princeton NEH post-doc, "The Poet Critics.")
My new book, out at the end of 2016, takes off on Milton's title, Parodies Lost. It's the growth of a poet's mind via parodying Angelou, Dylan Thomas, Ashbery, Herrick, R Wilbur, even Dickinson. And the central figure is partly my great undergrad friend, the brilliant parodist (esp of prose), Tom Weiskel, known principally for his book The Romantic Sublime--though I only hear his unique voice in a half-dozen spots in it; I have heard him parody both criticism and poetry. We lost him at age 29, like Shelley. (Harold Bloom, Tom's mentor, invited my book to his home on Linden St, New Haven, saying, "I think of Tom every day. I still grieve him.")

* Some of the funniest parts of Giordano Bruno's commedia "Candelaio" are in Latin, by and about the Latin teacher Manfurio, who admires himself, and his boy pupils who thwart him. For ex, Manny (in my trans.) refuses to use the word "Robber," insists on "Surreptor" so no-one knows he's been robbed. For the scene acted at London's Bridewell theater, see Youtube: "Candelaio Final Edit."
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