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Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost, 2nd Edition Paperback – February 13, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0674857476 ISBN-10: 067485747X Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 2nd edition (February 13, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067485747X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674857476
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Thirty years after its original publication. Surprised by Sin remains the one indispensable book on Milton. This dazzling, high-stakes work of mind taught a generation of readers how to read anew. And, lest we thought its rigorous injunctions had been dulled or blandly assimilated by the intervening years, Fish dares us, in a formidable new preface, to think again. (Linda Gregerson, University of Michigan)

Thirty years ago, Surprised by Sin initiated the modern age in Milton criticism. Still the one book necessarily engaged by Milton scholars, it continues to provoke, irritate, and illuminate. Reissued now, with a substantial new preface, it clarifies in fascinating ways not only the course of Milton studies but also the continuing career of its controversial author. (Marshall Grossman, University of Maryland at College Park)

The first edition of Surprised by Sin revised the critical landscape of Milton studies more significantly and more influentially than any other analysis of Paradise Lost in modern history. The second edition contains a substantial preface, not only an apologia but also a brilliant critical manifesto in its own right. Fish thereby affirms the validity, preeminence, and timeliness of his "great argument," which will continue to inform critical debates unremittingly in the future. (Albert C. Labriola, Duquesne University)

About the Author

Stanley Fish is Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His many books include There's No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It's a Good Thing Too.

More About the Author

Stanley Fish is the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor and a professor of law at Florida International University. He has previously taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He has received many honors and awards, including being named the Chicagoan of the Year for Culture. He is the author of twelve books and is now a weekly columnist for the New York Times. He resides in Andes, New York; New York City; and Delray Beach, Florida; with his wife, Jane Tompkins.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By jon bornholdt on July 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
According to Fish, "Paradise Lost" operates according to a mechanism of rhetorical indirection that works on all rhetorical levels, from depiction of character to deployment of tropes. Milton wants to show us how our fallen state corrupts and distorts our responses to poetry and instruction; the poem is constructed as a series of interlocking traps for the reader, who is lured into reacting in tempting but "wrong" ways to tropes ("with serpent error wandering") and characters (the apparently admirable Satan and his cohorts, the apparently tyrannical and odious God). The chapter on the poetics of prelapsarian Eden ("In Wandering Mazes Lost," I think it's called) is a masterpiece. Fish backs this all up with plenty of solid research into the theological doctrines Milton was known to endorse or was likely to have been familiar with.
This approach to Milton was regarded as radical when the book first came out, rather oddly, since Milton's tactics of indirection had already been noted by several critics, though not foregrounded as here. What's new is the thoroughness and clarity of the treatment, and Fish's sheer intelligence as a reader. This is criticism at its best: lucid, engaging, responsible, illuminating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Smokiechick on September 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
He also tends to be a bit long winded. Like nearly all literary criticism, the pages wasted on explication and redundancy are boring and just plain time-consuming. His thesis is brilliant. It's obvious once he states it, but it's not anything I have ever considered. It was originally published in 1967, so his theory has been out in academia for a long time now, but this is the first time I have been confronted with his perspective on the role of the reader in _Paradise Lost_. It also, in effect, makes Milton even more brilliant. I suppose I could have gone with 5 stars, but seriously, it's literary criticism: It's hard to "Love" Lit Crit...
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. W. Schmitt on May 12, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Critics, including Shelley, have argued over "Paradise Lost" for over 300

years. Stanley Fish has answered the crucial question once and for all: "What

was Milton doing?" In a critical masterpiece, Fish has opened for all of us

the pedagogic purpose of this monumental work. With a pattern of "mistake,

correction, instruction," Fish has broken the code; showing at once that we

are still "fallen" and susceptible to the rhetoric of Satan and his minions,

and in what ways we, as "fallen man" continue to respond to the persuasion

of the serpent in the Garden. It's hard to see what more can be written about

"Paradise Lost" after this landmark exigesis. Read it and see how easily we

can be seduced - and today's political discourse continues the tradition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Millstone on June 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stanley Fish's Milton study is somewhat academic but readable. If you're a non-scholar, as I am, you'll likely find it handy for understanding many of the subtleties of Paradise Lost.
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