Cover image for Milton's paradise Lost
Milton's paradise Lost
Milton, John, 1608-1674.
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Publication Information:
London : Arcturus, 2013.
Physical Description:
384 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
"In his epic work Paradise lost John Milion seeks 'to justify the ways of God to men' through the familiar Christian myth of the fall from grace. The poem is imbued with Milton's profoundly individual view of man's place in the universe and his intellectual and spiritual quest for redemption in the face of despair. ... In this slipcase edition the poem is presented with all 50 of the magnificent engravings produced by Gustav Doré specially for the work." --Book slipcase.
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"Complete and unabridged" --Cover.
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Dudley Branch Library PR3560 2013 Adult Non-Fiction Reading List

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In this epic work, John Milton seeks to justify the ways of God to men through the familiar Christian myth of the fall from grace. The poem is imbued with Milton's profoundly individual view of man's place in the universe and his intellectual and spiritual quest for redemption in the face of despair. This unique clothbound edition includes its own slipcase and all fifty of the magnificent engravings produced by Gustave Dore especially for the work.

Author Notes

John Milton, English scholar and classical poet, is one of the major figures of Western literature. He was born in 1608 into a prosperous London family. By the age of 17, he was proficient in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Milton attended Cambridge University, earning a B.A. and an M.A. before secluding himself for five years to read, write and study on his own. It is believed that Milton read evertything that had been published in Latin, Greek, and English. He was considered one of the most educated men of his time.

Milton also had a reputation as a radical. After his own wife left him early in their marriage, Milton published an unpopular treatise supporting divorce in the case of incompatibility. Milton was also a vocal supporter of Oliver Cromwell and worked for him.

Milton's first work, Lycidas, an elegy on the death of a classmate, was published in 1632, and he had numerous works published in the ensuing years, including Pastoral and Areopagitica. His Christian epic poem, Paradise Lost, which traced humanity's fall from divine grace, appeared in 1667, assuring his place as one of the finest non-dramatic poet of the Renaissance Age. Milton went blind at the age of 43 from the incredible strain he placed on his eyes. Amazingly, Paradise Lost and his other major works, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes, were composed after the lost of his sight. These major works were painstakingly and slowly dictated to secretaries.

John Milton died in 1674.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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Library Journal Review

This Oxford edition of the Milton standard sports heavy paper and a ribbon marker, plus an intro by Philip Pullman on the work's influence on his own writing. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From David Hawkes's Introduction to Paradise Lost Milton believed that the kind of knowledge that can be attained by the human mind was necessarily contingent, or limited. It was limited by cultural and historical context: The ancient Greeks, for example, had been culturally unable to arrive at monotheism. But it was also inherently limited by its internal properties. The human mind is designed, or has developed, in such a way as to live in time and space. To exist outside time and space, the human mind would have to become something different than what it currently is. The same goes for such ideas as causality or extension; without the capacity to think according to these categories it would be simply impossible to have any kind of recognizably human experience. We do not, therefore, experience the world as it really is, we experience the world as it appears to human beings. And we know that this experience is contingent upon--limited by--the inherent nature of the human mind. It follows that the concepts we form of things, the way they appear to us, do not correspond to the things in themselves. There are thus two kinds of truth: the truth "for us," in what modern philosophers call the world of "phenomena," and the truth "in itself," in what is known as the world of "noumena." In John Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn," for example, the poet laments that he can never experience the urn in its noumenal state, as it is in itself. Keats comes to this realization by considering the difference between the significance it possesses for him, as a modern Englishman, and the meanings it conveyed to its creator, an ancient Greek. The "phenomenal" appearance of the urn has changed, although the urn "in itself" has not. In a sense the noumenal is more true, because it is more absolute, than the phenomenal, but the truth "in itself" is by definition beyond the grasp of human thought. We are stuck with a consciousness that we know to be incomplete. This is philosophical terminology, but Milton expresses the same ideas in quasi-mythological, religious terms. Paradise Lost hinges upon the fundamental, unbridgeable, qualitative distinction between the world of earthly phenomena as experienced by Adam and Eve (and also by the poem's all-too-human narrator), and the world of spiritual noumena as it is represented to them (and us) through the intricate system of characters, figures, and images that make up the Western mythological and religious traditions. Above all, Milton insists on the disparity in nature between the Creator and His creation. Paradise Lost describes the alienation of labor in a cosmic context; it tells of how the universe that God made came to be alien to Him, and how it came to seem autonomous and self-generating to its inhabitants. The disjunction between the Maker and the made involves a contradiction between two different kinds of value, of significance. It follows that any knowledge we can have of God or His Providential designs must always be "mediated," translated into the contingent terms and concepts to which the human mind has access. Almost half of Paradise Lost consists of stories told to Adam and/or Eve through the voices of the archangels Raphael and Michael. These characters incessantly remind their auditors that they are attempting the impossible task of representing noumena in terms of phenomena. Asked to describe the fall of Satan to the human couple, Raphael falls into a quandry: "how shall I relate / To human sense th'invisible exploits / Of warring spirits" (5.564-566). He decides that he must tell his story in the form of an extended metaphor, using images that Adam and Eve are equipped to understand: "what surmounts the reach / Of human sense, I shall delineate so, / By likening spiritual to corporal forms, / As may express then best" (5.571-574). We are thus warned not to take the action of the "war in Heaven" that the angel describes literally, but to remain conscious that we are receiving figural representations of spiritual (we might call them psychological or philosophical) events. We can only understand those events if we take account of the fact that they are mediated for us through contingent human discourse: Immediate are the acts of God, more swift Than time or motion; but to human ears Cannot without process of speech be told, So told as earthly notion can receive (7.176-179).   The action of Paradise Lost takes place, then, in many different registers simultaneously. The ability to read a text as both literal and symbolic, and also at infinite gradations between these poles, came more naturally to educated people in Milton's time than it does to us, trained as they were in the intricate hermeneutics of biblical exegesis. Furthermore, their facility with textual interpretation was matched by a happy disregard for the boundaries between what we regard as mutually exclusive intellectual fields. Paradise Lost is certainly a work of theology, representing the spiritual conflict between metaphysical beings, but this conflict is also the determining factor in world history, as well as within the human psyche. Although more than twenty characters address us in the course of the poem, such figures also represent disputing forces within Milton's mind and, by implication, within the mind of the reader. Excerpted from Paradise Lost by John Milton All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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