- Paperback: 76 pages
- Publisher: BiblioBazaar (March 23, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 143460523X
- ISBN-13: 978-1434605238
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.2 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 959 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,460,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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."
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. 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 Penguin Classics (Paradise Lost (Penguin Classics)), which also includes line numbers and as well incorporates an introductory essay and notes written by John Leonard. 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 as long as one is simply looking for the text of the poem and does not want supplementary material to assist in understanding or learning the story. If such materials are desired then I recommend any of the previously mentioned editions, which 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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