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Paradise Lost (Norton Critical Editions) 3rd revised Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
A few years ago I made two fortunate decisions. I elected to read Milton's Paradise Lost and I bought the Norton Critical Edition (edited by Scott Elledge). I read and reread Paradise Lost over a period of three months as well as the 300 pages of the Norton critical commentary. I was stunned by the beauty and power of Milton. Why had I waited so long to even approach such a literary masterpiece?
Make no mistake. I had been right in several ways. Paradise Lost is difficult, it is long, and full appreciation requires an understanding of the historical and religious context. But Paradise Lost is a remarkable achievement. It explores questions regarding man and God that are as relevant today as in the 17th century. And the genius of Milton has never been surpassed.
I found the Norton footnotes extremely helpful - definitions for rare or archaic words and expressions, explanations of the historical context, and links to the critical commentary section. The footnotes are at the page bottom, making them readily accessible.
The Norton biographical, historical, and literary commentaries were fascinating in their own right. I may well as spent as many hours reading commentary as with Paradise Lost itself.
John Milton led a remarkable life. His enthusiastic euology on Shakespeare was included in the second folio edition of Shakespeare in 1632. This was Milton's first public appearance as an author!Read more ›
As to the poem itself, some people are hard on it for all the wrong reasons. Remember that it is a 17th century poem, that English was not exactly similar as it is today, and that there are many, many words which were first used in English in "Paradise Lost". Milton was innovative with words, and he gave English new words, and expressions, such as the most famous "all Hell broke loose", which was first uttered in "Paradise Lost".
A poem like this cannot be read without good notes, and this is what this edition has to offer. Notes aren't enough, though, they have to be good, and in this edition, they are. The poem itself is not burdened by the numbers of the notes, because there are so many, the editor decided not to show them in the text per se, but at the end of the book, you will always have the reference, the lines, which the notes are about.
As to the poem itself, if you don't know it, you certainly know of the story of the Fall of Man, Adam and Eve, and the rebellion of Satan in Heaven. I'll only say that Milton's God is one seriously problematic figure in the poem, and that it caused centuries of academic discussion as to whether Milton's God is a good God or a devilish one, whether "Paradise Lost" was truly a "myth", in the old sense of a story which explains why we're here and how it got to be, or whether it was an attack on Christianity. Scholars still discuss this today, so make your own mind if you can!
What separates this version from all the others available? The incredibly detailed work of the editors. The annotations of this edition are absolutely fantastic. They are plentiful (sometimes taking up as much as half a page), extremely informative, and surprisingly fun to read. Most annotated works such as this merely clarify antiquated vocabulary, but in this case the editors point out classical allusions, references to current events, and references to Milton's prose works. In addition to the prose and poetry associated with the text, the editors routinely mention the critical discourse (of which there is an unholy amount) associated with Milton. There are even moments where I laughed out loud at their comments. There is also a subtle touch to the annotations, in that there is no indication of annotations within the line. What I mean by this is that there are no bubbles or footnote marks in the body of the poem. The annotations at the bottom of the page simply point to a line number. This allows the reader to ignore the annotations if they choose to do so.
Another nice characteristic of this edition is the artwork and illustrations included. There's some really fantastic stuff in there.
All in all, this is an excellent edition of an excellent poem.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you ever wondered why sexism exists, here is your answer. Pretty blondes, brilliant comments, and then there's Eve. Read morePublished 13 hours ago by LeeRoy Jenkins
Excellent work! Be prepared for the antiquated language, but it is a classic well worth the effort.Published 11 days ago by Sherm
Give me a break, rate "Paradise Lost" on" on predictability, mood, pace and characters. Gosh, I knew from the beginning what was going to happen to all the characters. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Leslie G. Milton