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Paradise Lost (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Paradise Lost, by John Milton, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
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Paradise Lost (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Paradise Lost, by John Milton, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

As a young student, John Milton fantasized about bringing the poetic elocution of Homer and Virgil to the English language. Milton realized this dream with his graceful, sonorous Paradise Lost, now considered the most influential epic poem in English literature.

A retelling of the biblical story of mankind’s fall from grace, Milton’s epic opens shortly after the dramatic expulsion of Satan and his army of angels from Heaven. What follows is a cosmic battle between good and evil that ranges across vast, splendid tracts of time and space, from the wild abyss of Chaos and the fiery lake of Hell to the Gate of Heaven and God’s newly created paradise, the Garden of Eden. Controversy still swirls around Milton’s magnificent and sympathetic characterization of Satan, a portrait so compelling that many critics have maintained that he is the true hero of the story.

David Hawkes is Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University. His books include Idols of the Marketplace (2001) and Ideology (second edition, 2003), and he has contributed articles to The Nation, the Times Literary Supplement, and the Journal of the History of Ideas.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593080952
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 9/1/2004
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 35,480
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

David Hawkes is Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University. His books include Idols of the Marketplace (2001) and Ideology (second edition, 2003), and he has contributed articles to The Nation, the Times Literary Supplement, and the Journal of the History of Ideas
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Read an Excerpt

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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 57 )
Rating Distribution

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(29)

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(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 57 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent

    It's an utter classic, and I'm so glad it's offered as a reasonably-priced Barnes & Noble Classic. The story, drawn directly from the Christian bible, is obviously not original, but Milton turns it into an unbelievably beautiful drama with astonishing characters, and a writing style to match. No matter your religious or spiritual beliefs, this is a story of powerful emotion--for all characters, including Satan--and offers multiple perspectives on the same argument. It's all about cause and effect. The book is challenging yet satisfying. If you have the patience, it's worth the experience.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2010

    This book is great

    This book is a great read. I liked it so much I placed a special order to get a Spanish print to give it to my mother as a gift. She also loved it and read the entire book in less than two weeks. This book was recommended to me by a few of my professors... I love it!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautiful

    The prince of darkness falls from grace and paradise is lost. One of my favorite books of all time. Ageless, breathtaking and profound.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Paradise Lost

    This book is simply astounding. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys classics. The only detracting factor from the book is the English. It can be a bit of a struggle to read for some, but if you can push through it, the rewards are far worth it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 23, 2009

    Incredible!!

    At first, Milton's writing style is very hard to read and to understand, but once you've entered his world you'll never want to leave. It is an amazing story that really makes you question and think about creation and salvation. The characters are so dynamic, even so you'll find yourself feeling sympathetic and care for Satan. I strongly recommend this book. It is INCREDIBLE!!!!!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2008

    Powerful Insight

    Wow! What a view of creation and salvation. This is a very difficult book to read but well worth it. It really takes two readings to get the most out of this book because it requires the reader to work through several chapters before becoming accustomed to the style of writing. However, the insight into God, Jesus, Angels, Satan and Mankind is very powerful.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2008

    One of the Greatest Books of All TIME!!

    A wonderful classic that will never loose its integrity. Should be read by all of mankind for it hold great examples of life in which you should follow.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2007

    A reviewer

    Very intense book, although it did take time for me to completely understand it. After it all soaked in, it was indeed well worth it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2007

    A reviewer

    A simply amazing book, whether your a power christian or a satanist you'll love it

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2005

    The Book Itself

    It is not my intention to review Paradise Lost - which needs no further approval from me - but rather the recent hardcover classic edition published by Barnes & Noble. As a collector of Milton editions, I could not be more impressed by the quality of the book itself. A sturdy cloth spine which superbly binds the text. The simple, yet beautiful stamped boards. Deckled edges. A clear text with a classical, yet eye-pleasing font. Useful notes and a helpful introduction. This edition is now one of my texts of choice when I settle down and return (as I often do) to Paradise Lost. Congratulations, Barnes & Noble, on a well-crafted edition. I should say, also, that I am not an employee of B&N -- but actually work at a rival chain.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Really deep

    I can't event put what I feel about this book into words. It's just so remarkable. Everyone who reads this book loves it. This book is by far the greatest book I've ever read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2014

    Good to see this

    Good to see this

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Similar to Shakespeare¿s writing style, it is Milton¿s choice of

    Similar to Shakespeare’s writing style, it is Milton’s choice of words that makes Paradise Lost a beautiful piece of literature. If you are familiar with the bible stories and scripture , particularly the story of the Adam and Eve, you will very much enjoy reading Paradise Lost. Compared to the story written in the Book of Genesis, Milton’s version lets you visualize this story even better. Although, he did not change the storyline he did however add beautiful smiles and puns that emerge all your five sense while reading his long epic poem.

    If you are not familiar with Bible scripture and Greek mythology, you will be a little confused with Milton’s writing. He emphasizes and compares a lot in his writing. The best part of Milton’s long epic story is the addition to Satan’s Betrayal to God. By doing so it explains not only who and how Satan came about but also his point of view, his thoughts, his feelings, and why he tricked Adam and Eve in the first place. Milton even explains the type of relationship Adam and Eve had, even their different personalities, in which the Bible text does not include. By adding these extra details it helps to understand the creation of man even more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2006

    Interesting

    Very complex, for me I had to read it over and over again to fully understand it all.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2005

    Awesome Book

    'Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven' The language is hard and the read is slow, but the work is worth it. If you simply like to read a story, it'll be too much for you. If you want to be impacted, take the time and work through it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2009

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