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Paradise Lost

John Milton

Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books; a second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve books (in the manner of the division of Virgil's Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification. The poem concerns the Judeo-Christian story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton's purpose, stated in Book I, is "justify the ways of God to men" (Milton 1674, 4:26) and elucidate the conflict between God's eternal foresight and free will.

In the early nineteenth century, the Romantics began to regard the protagonist of the epic as the fallen angel, Satan. Milton presents Satan as an ambitious and proud being who defies his creator, omnipotent God, and who wages war on Heaven, only to be defeated and cast down. Indeed, William Blake, a great admirer of Milton and illustrator of the epic poem, said of Milton that "he was a true Poet, and of the Devil's party without knowing it." (Blake 1793) Some critics regard the character of Lucifer as a precursor of the Byronic hero. (Eliot 1932)

Milton worked for Oliver Cromwell and the Parliament of England and thus wrote first-hand for the Commonwealth of England. Arguably, the failed rebellion and reinstallation of the monarchy left him to explore his losses within Paradise Lost. Some critics say that he sympathized with the Satan in this work, in that both he and Satan had experienced a failed cause.

Milton incorporates Paganism, classical Greek references and Christianity within the story. He greatly admired the classics but intended this work to surpass them. The poem grapples with many difficult theological issues, including fate, predestination, and the Trinity.

(From Wikipedia, description text under GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL))

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