Paradise Lost: Authoritative Text, Sources and Backgrounds, Criticism

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W.W. Norton, 2005 - Literary Criticism - 591 pages
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Written at a time of personal and political crisis in Milton's career (1658-65), Paradise Lost is the greatest epic poem in English literature. It had an immense influence on the English Romantics and, through them, on modern poetry. This Norton Critical edition is based on the 1674 edition of the poem, the last to appear in Milton's lifetime, with a few emendations and adoptions from the first edition and from the scribal manuscript, and noted. Gordon Tesky provides readers with a freshly edited text intended for those approaching Milton for the first time. Spelling and punctuation have been modernized, the latter within the limits imposed by Milton's syntax. The text of Paradise Lost is accompanied by an introduction, an introduction, an account of Milton's life, ample annotations, a glossary, and suggestions for further reading. Also included is an unusually rich criticism section, which collects forty-eight diverse commentaries and interpretations, culled from the enormous body of scholarly writing on the poem. -- From Back Cover.

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User Review  - Leonard - Goodreads

It's almost impossible to overestimate what a huge influence this had on me when I was young. It led me on a path towards almost every intellectual, political and philosophical idea that's important to me now. Read full review

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About the author (2005)

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.

Gordon Teskey is Professor of English at Harvard University. He is the author of Delirious Milton: The Poet in the Modern World and Allegory and Violence, and co-editor of Unfolded Tales: Essays on Renaissance Romance.

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