Paradise Lost (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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:
  • 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593080952
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 09/01/2004
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 8,445
Product dimensions: 5.32(w) x 7.96(h) x 1.33(d)

About the Author

As a young student, John Milton (1608-1674) dreamed of 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. In sublime poetry of extraordinary beauty, Paradise Lost has inspired generations of artists and their works, ranging from the Romantic poets to the books of J. R. R. Tolkien.

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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Paradise Lost Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
Lockhart7 More than 1 year ago
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.
isaacman101 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
rpina More than 1 year ago
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!
butterflybabe23 More than 1 year ago
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!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A simply amazing book, whether your a power christian or a satanist you'll love it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
jake on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As this was my first epic read, I cannot profess to be well-trained as to the vastness of other works, but the beauty of this work lies in its broad overview of Scripture, character, and life. Not merely striking the main points of Eden, as I was expecting, but surveying large portions of history. It felt huge without being overly laborious to read.The wording was not nearly as stilted as I was lead to believe it would be, though at times the footnotes were indispensable--I am still rather ignorant of many of his references.A wonderful work that I hope to reread in time.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even though I don't hold with religious belief, that didn't stop me from adoring Dante's Divine Comedy and I've loved Homer's epic poems. Yet I can't say that Milton's Paradise Lost spoke to me. Much of the poem felt repetitive and bloated with discourses on such matters as heliocentric theory. His recapitulation of Genesis is part plagiarism, part bizarre twisting. (Among other things, according to Milton, "God the Son" who would become Jesus was really the Creator.) Unlike Dante, who never lost the human even when dealing with the divine, in Paradise Lost so much is focused on God, Satan, and their angelic allies. Only Adam and Eve are human--and the depiction of Eve gave me no end of problems. And unlike others Milton is compared to such as Homer, Dante, Chaucer and Shakespeare, if Milton has a sense of humor, I completely missed it.I did recognize passages of beauty and grandeur in Paradise Lost, but rather disconcertingly they were almost always spoken by Satan. "The Mind is its own place and itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven." "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." Ironically, according to the introduction to the edition I read, Milton was himself a rebel. He supported Cromwell's republic which executed a anointed monarch and argued against censorship in his treatise Areopagitica. It seems incongruous that in Paradise Lost he seeks to "justify the ways of God to men" by making disobedience and a desire for knowledge the root of all evil. So maybe it's not that surprising that Romantics such as Shelley and Blake would see Satan as the hero of Milton's epic. Especially since Milton's God has all the hallmarks of a despot. Milton describes God as a "sov'reign King;" the purpose of angels and humans is to praise (flatter) him, he's arbitrary, capricious and rigid in his commands, jealous of his power, willing to sacrifice others for his ends and decrees "torture without end."I found it hard not to gag at the depiction of Eve from the start who says to Adam, "God is thy law, thou mine." It's not all negative. It's through Eve that Milton depicts humans arriving at self-awareness and Milton is sex positive. He insists the unFallen Adam and Eve had sex for instance and he supports marriage. But Milton emphasizes Eve's subordination, inferiority and centrality to the human tragedy throughout. Says Adam:Of Nature her the inferior, in the mindAnd inward faculties, which most excel;In outward also her resembling lessHis image who made both, and less expressingThe character of that dominion givenO'er other creatures. God sends a warning through the Angel Raphael to Adam--not Eve--merely telling him "to warn thy weaker." Eve succumbs because of flattery and vanity. Adam disobeys God out of love, joining her in sin because he fears otherwise they'd be divided. So woman is weak in herself--man only if and when he's weakened by woman. "Sin" is also female with parallels to Eve--a grotesque demoness who is the daughter of Satan and through an incestuous union with him the mother of Death. Both Sin and Eve are in league with Satan and bring death into creation.Unlike the case with Homer, I can't blame an initial negative reaction to Milton as the result of being forced to read him in school, a lack of maturity or a bad translation. Milton wrote in English and I've read Paradise Lost only recently for the first time. However, Milton greatly influenced the Romantic poets and even how many Christians see the story of Adam and Eve and Satan. Because of that I'm glad I read the poem and do encourage others to read it. Besides the glints of beauty, many of Milton's religious views are, well, unique. The glimpse of his political views are interesting too--almost libertarian.He gave us only over Beast, Fish, FowlDominion absolute; that right we holdBy his donation; but Man over menHe made not Lord; such title to himselfReserving, human left from hum
Borg-mx5 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't think anyone would say that Milton is an easy read, but it is worthwhile. The prose of Paradise Lost is some of the most beautiful in the English language.
BruderBane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How can I even write a review of John Milton and perhaps one of the ultimate works in the English language? You don¿t. I¿ll only say that after completing ¿Paradise Lost,¿ I wrote a huge amount of discordant information in my personal journal and reread enormous sections of the book. The introduction and notation provided in the Barnes & Noble edition of ¿Paradise Lost¿ by David Hawkes was invaluable to my enjoyment and understanding. And the ending comments provided in this edition from such noted authors as Thomas Gray, William Blake and Wordsworth brought about a level of appreciation and understanding I did not anticipate.
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QuEencEzz More than 1 year ago
Good to see this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
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