- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 17 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audio Book Contractors, Inc.
- Audible.com Release Date: May 18, 2011
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0051JJGIC
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Paradise Lost Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
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."
Also, importantly, the language hasn't been tampered with too much. It's always bad when publishers decided to reword and rework classics. The publishers here have left the source material alone for the most part, modernizing only words that would greatly confuse contemporary audiences. With prose like this, it's best that it's left alone for the most part. If you manipulate it and rework it too much, you can end up changing the meaning of the prose. Some other copies are guilty of this, but I can assure you this one has the original meaning and intention of Milton's epic poem.
Another important note: the lines of each page are referenced on the top-middle part of each page, so at a glance you know what range of lines a page contains. Also, the line numbers on the sides of the text correspond to the notes at the bottom of a page. There are a few exceptions; for instance, the publishers occasionally will number a line if it's near the end or the beginning of the page, and if simultaneously there are no notes near those locations. They do this just for the convenience of the numbering. I was a little concerned that weren't in-text annotation numbers (what I mean by that is numbers, in superscript, above words in the poem corresponding to the notes they refer to at the bottom), but it's actually a lot better when a line number to the side of the page alerts you at a glance to a footnote.
I'm extremely pleased with this edition, and I recommend it to all readers, especially discriminating ones!
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