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on January 23, 2015
Amazon has the bad habit of lumping reviews of multiple editions of a book without regard as to author/editor or publisher, to the detriment of the buyer's choosing an edition, so I write to make a few comments on the 984,562 editions of "Paradise Lost" listed for purchase. I have used the titles as listed by Amazon to help find the editions I refer to, and, with the exception of the books by Kastan, Lanzara, and BookCaps, the ones I discuss below are ones I own and am familiar with.

The version with an introduction and comments by Pullman has text that is large and readable, line numbers and some nice illustrations, taken from the first illustrated edition, published in 1688. It is a nice copy for those who want just the text of the poem. The text is based on Stephen Orgel's 2008 Paradise Lost (Oxford World's Classics) which has been modernized presumably with respect to capitalization, spelling and punctuation. The comments by Pullman are worthwhile, but, while he may be a very good writer, he is not a scholar of Milton. Unlike Orgel, there are no annotations or notes to explain Milton's often arcane language and allusions.

For readers seeking annotated versions, I suggest the following.

The ultimate edition of Milton Alastair Fowler's Milton: Paradise Lost: it has been called the Bible of Milton scholars; one review I saw called it suitable for graduate students majoring in Milton. It is one of the few available based on the first edition of "Paradise Lost", published in 1667, but Fowler states that it also includes the additions made in the second edition of 1674 --- the version that most of today's editors use. Know that Fowler has produced a very, very scholarly version with many, many notes, sometimes to the point that they leave only two or three lines of the poem on the page, so I strongly urge using the "Look Inside" feature before deciding to buy it. I recommend Fowler's 1998 Milton: Paradise Lost (2nd Edition) edition in used paperback ---- reissue in 2006 edition with a new cover and much higher price.

The blurb from the publisher on the Pullman webpage misleads the reader by mentioning "This is the first fully-annotated, old-spelling edition ..." It ain't (as the small print says). I can't find the actual book this blurb refers to, there are several that might be the one mentioned. One such version, with very favorable recommendations, is Barbara K. Lewalski's 2007 Paradise Lost that reproduces the original language, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and italics of the 1674 text. Its annotations are on the same page. Again, I would again urge potential buyers to "Look Inside."(Incidentally, I was able to find a .pdf copy of it online).

Another annotated edition, again with those on the same page, that sticks close to the original 1674 text (but with some minor modernization) is Merritt Y. Hughes' Paradise Lost (Hackett Classics), first published in 1935, and revised in 1962. It is advertised as one popular with college professors for their classes, whatever that may mean. From what I gather, Fowler has replaced Hughes as the scholarly version to use.

The edition by Hughes was taken in 2003 by David Scott Kastan (Paradise Lost (Hackett Classics)) and edited more extensively, again with the annotations on the same page. Incidentally, Kastan's comments on how he edited, along with comments on any editor's choices when dealing with Milton, are well worth reading, and can be found under "Textual Introduction" using the "Look Inside" feature. I urge reading them to understand how and why there are so many different editions of Milton.

Yet another annotated edition that comes close to the original is by John Leonard's Paradise Lost (Penguin Classics). The ad for this version states that the text has been modernized to the degree of reducing some capitals and italics, and correcting the spelling and some punctuation. It is annotated, but not to the degree of Fowler --- but the notes are at the back of the book rather than the bottom of the page as seems customary and which I personally find difficult to use because of constantly having to flip between pages. Again, I would urge potential buyers to "Look Inside."

There are many other scholarly editions available in addition to the ones I have mentioned here, including one online at the John Milton Reading Room at Dartmouth College.

For those who might like a less challenging version of "Paradise Lost", I suggest BookCaps "translation" (Amazon's words, not mine) Paradise Lost In Plain and Simple English or at an even less difficult level, Joseph Lanzara's John Milton's Paradise Lost In Plain English: A Simple, Line By Line Paraphrase Of The Complicated Masterpiece. Should those prove too difficult, there might be somewhere a copy by Classics Illustrated comics, although a search by Google turns up nothing --- perhaps they never published one.

Since each edition of "Paradise Lost" has its strengths and weaknesses, how does the buyer go about selecting an edition for purchase? To me, it's rather like buying a car --- ultimately based upon personal preference, but in this case, rather than engine and body style, determined by the way the editor has modified Milton's language and added annotations, and their degree of adherence to his original language --- some editors produce as little modernization as possible to retain Milton's original meter and rhythm for reading aloud, while others try for a more modern sound. I would suggest using the "Look Inside" feature, to see what the editor has done, to help making a decision.

Whichever edition you buy, may you find great enjoyment in reading what I consider the greatest epic poem in the English language --- although you might agree more with what Donald Sutherland's character, Jennings, had to say about it in the movie "Animal House": "Now what can we say about Milton's "Paradise Lost"? It's a very long poem. It was written a long time ago, and I'm sure a lot of you have difficulty understanding exactly what Milton was trying to say. ..... Don't write this down, but I find Milton probably as boring as you find Milton. Mrs. Milton found him boring too. He's a little bit long-winded, he doesn't translate very well into our generation, and his jokes are terrible."
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This review is for the Kindle edition of Paradise Lost that has been released by Penguin Classics.

I obtained this for my Kindle because I wanted an edition of Paradise Lost for the Kindle that included the line numbers, and this one does. It also incorporates an introductory essay and notes written by John Leonard. As far as I can tell so far, the text is all properly formatted and there are no spelling or editing errors - recognizing of course that the text here is in accordance with how the poem was written by Milton so it is in Olde English and does not conform with contemporary style of writing.

Of the many other editions of Paradise Lost available for the Kindle, I also have the one published by Simon & Schuster (Paradise Lost), which also includes line numbers but does not have any supplementary materials. I do not have the Kindle editions released by Oxford (Paradise Lost) or Modern Library (Paradise Lost (Modern Library Classics)) but I assume they would be comparable to the Penguin edition, including supplementary essays and notes as well as presenting the text with line numbers. I would expect that the most scholarly edition (for most readers) would be Paradise Lost (Norton Critical Editions), however I don't see a Kindle version available of the Norton edition.

This Kindle edition is completely satisfactory, along with the previously mentioned Oxford and Modern Library editions, that I think would be pretty much equivalent. Any of these editions will generally sell for modest prices here on Amazon and can occasionally be found discounted (I picked up my Penguin edition at that 95 cents, for example, but as I write this review today it is selling for just over five dollars).
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on February 21, 2015
One major problem with buying Paradise Lost in e-book format here is that reviews of the various releases are crossed over upon each other. A review intended for one release may show up on several, making it very difficult to tell which ones have annotations, illustrations, and the like. The reviews associated with this edition in the listing talk about annotations, and the scholarship of Barbara Lewinsky's notes and annotations. NONE OF THAT APPEARS IN THIS EDITION. NONE WHATSOEVER. And without previews in many of these editions, it's impossible to tell one from the other before buying or free downloading.

As a matter of fact, those same reviews appear in multiple releases whether they are that edition or another. It has become impossible to tell whether the version listed is the one you buy. I wanted annotations and scholarly notes, but what I mistakenly paid for was an absolutely minimal release. A line is skipped after every line all the way through, which is irritating and distracting. No annotations. No footnotes. Nothing but double-spaced text.

Checking the third page, I find that the one I've bought is "Start Publishing LLC Copyright © 2012 by Start Publishing LLC

Milton, John (2013-03-25). Paradise Lost (Paradise series Book 1) . Start Publishing LLC. Kindle Edition. " It's not worth buying. Get it free, if you can. It couldn't be worse.
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on July 10, 2015
This frequently overlooked masterpiece details the concluding segment of Milton's poetic discourse on Christian apologetics. Though less acclaimed than Paradise Lost, the poem offers an interesting venue for concluding the allegory: the wilderness temptations. Mary's role as instructor and enabler manifest clearly throughout the text as Milton's Jesus transforms into Milton's Christ. Peeling away the layers of this dense manuscript reveal other hidden gems as well, including the importance of spatial analysis. Nazareth is highlighted not only as the Son's childhood home, but becomes a frequent target of Satan's disdain for humility. Tables are turned with the cryptic ending as Jesus returns to his Mother's home, robed in victory over the devil's attempts to dislodge the Son's divine mission. The narrative balances Paradise Lost by disrobing the Son of his Divine advantages and leaving to Him the only mechanism available to Satan in the prelapsarian Garden: "winning words" to prevail upon "willing hearts." The poem serves as more than a theological commentary, but as a masterpiece of Early Modern literature. Like Paradise Regained, whatever your religious bent - if any, this work radiates unheralded brilliance.
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on September 22, 2014
I bought this version of PL because it was free. The Extra material from the Demonologist neither added to, nor detracted from, my reading pleasure. But fair warning, the author only gives you the first few chapters of the Demonologist ... get sucked in at your own risk! As for PL specifically, I was very pleased with the manuscript. I knew that it would be a superlative poem but I was quite pleased at the narrative depth. There is significant mythic development above and beyond the Christian tradition that I found fascinating. The electronic print quality was ok. There were numerous errors from the OCR conversion process, most notably there are about a thousand VV for W. There are also a very large number of additional line spaces, seemingly added at random intervals, which distract from the reading. Since it was free I won't complain too loudly, but I would have been aggrieved if I'd payed for it.
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on February 10, 2014
I have heard of Paradise lost all the time. But I never got a chance to read it. I have to say its a lot better then what people said about it. Its really a great book and I think ever one who studies religion or is a religous person should read it
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on March 31, 2012
Not owning an actual Kindle, but reading instead on my PC via the Kindle Cloud Reader (and secondarily on my iPod Touch), the Kindle version of the Penguin edition of Milton's Paradise Lost (edited by John Leonard) offers one very substantial improvement over the print version: an indication that there's an endnote for a given line of poetry given by endnote numbers embedded in the poetic text. Clicking on the number sends you directly to that note. This is important because the endnotes by John Leonard are among the best of any lower-cost modern annotated edition of Paradise Lost (his introduction is also very good). Stripped of such annotations, as in the "naked" texts you can get for free from Amazon or Google, there's little chance the modern reader would be able to fully appreciate Milton's achievement. (Putting the notes at the end is the usual Penguin Classics practice with its printed books and is the principal flaw of its otherwise fine paperback series of Shakespeare plays.)

There are also drawbacks with the Kindle edition, however. There is no running header or footer indicating which "Book" of the poem you are in while skimming through -- it's all one congealed mass of text. Even worse, the original line numbers placed every five lines here also receive a line of their own. This upsets the margins in such a way that it looks like the poem is constructed in 5-line stanzas, which it is not and, equally detrimental, also upsets the visual rhythms of the poetry. These two factors make the poem harder to read out loud (Milton's poetry should be heard, even if only in your mind's ear) or to call up a specific passage that might be referred to in a classroom or in an essay in some other book. For example, getting to Line 263 of Book I ("Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.") is FAR quicker in the print edition than the Kindle one where you have to go to the table of contents to cue the first page of Book I and then turn pages one by one to get to Line 263. Navigation of a digital book should not be as cumbersome as this. Let this be a warning to publishers and buyers of electronic editions of Paradise Lost and other epic poems (Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Chaucer etc.), not to mention other major works with multiple layers of standardized labelled and/or numbered subdivisions, like Shakespeare or the Bible.
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on June 4, 2017
We read part of this poem in our Catholic High School literature class. But there is a great chasm of difference between the reading of this landmark poem by a professional who knows how to pause in the story or to emphasize some aspect of it so that the line of the poem is worth thinking about and an often monotone student struggling with pronunciations and meaning. . Highly recommended.
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on May 16, 2014
I really enjoy these books by Jance, especially when I want to get away from heavy reading such as my microbiology, neuroscience, for my classes. In this book, Joanna Brady's daughter goes to camp with a bunch of girls. She gets paired off with a rather smelly older girl, who obviously doesn't fit in with the rest of the girls. This girl kind of dares Jenny, Joanna's daughter, to leave their tent late at night and go off into the desert to smoke a cigarette, and since Jenny doesn't want to be seen as a goody-two-shoes, she does just that. While out there the girls stumble across a dead body...and they run and tell the lady in charge.

That brings in the calvary. Including Jenny's grandparents, because Joanna is in another city for a meeting. Needless to say, Jenny is in big trouble...for the smoking, for wandering off on her own, and for involving herself in a murder. The strange girl is brought back to Jenny's house temporarily, then put in a foster situation. When she runs away from that, she is later found murdered...and this concerns Joanna, for the possibility it might put Jenny at risk.

These books are great for light summer reading. Most of the time, they are fairly well-written. They don't qualify as great literature, but I always find the stories are good enough to keep me interested. And most of all, I like the characters that Jance has woven stories around.
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on December 10, 2015
I was skeptical that Milton could continue in the same quality, and the beginning was slow. He continues to develop the character of Satan, as in PL, but the Son of God triumphs decisively with authority, piety, and clarity.

I was surprised that the "undoing" or reversal of PL was not the resurrection. But PR makes so much sense. It speaks directly to Romans 5, where Paul writes "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (verse 19)

I also appreciated how, like Dante, Milton puts the classical Greeks in the discourse. Satan brings a perspective and Christ brings another. Milton obviously has huge respect for the ancient Greeks. I think he shows their place in Book IV.

Milton is brilliant. I recommend PR to lovers of Milton, Dante, and all English poetry and prose.
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