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It’s strange, then, that Satan often sounds like a republican.In book 1, he speaks out against monarchical tyranny and he democratically offers his fellow demons a chance to travel to Eden to destroy God’s creation.” He follows this with a word of encouragement: “All is not lost: th’unconquerable will / And study of revenge, immortal hate / And courage never to submit or yield— / And what is else not to be overcome? He is unflappable only in front of a crowd, courageous only when it is personally advantageous. Satan wants the freedom to do as he pleases, but it is a freedom that always comes at the expense of others’ liberty.
The book “demonstrates that around the world people are taking real interest in Milton,” Islam Issa, one of the volume’s editors, told the Guardian. One reason is that Paradise Lost is, well, a poem, and poems are not only more difficult to read than either prose fiction or plays, they are harder to put on a screen, the reigning medium of our day.
There have been dozens of television and film adaptations of both Shakespeare and Austen, but very few of Paradise Lost.
This “rise” is mirrored in Adam and Eve’s fall in books 8 to 10.
Book 4 offers Eve’s account of creation; book 7 offers Adam’s.
[Culture Club/Getty] Notwithstanding Milton’s famous promise in the opening section of the poem to “assert eternal providence / And justify the ways of God to men,” it is Satan’s poem from beginning to end.
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He is the first character to speak, and he is eloquent, bold, full of feeling for others.Recounting his first moments of consciousness, for example, Adam notes how both his “heart” and creation “smil’d . Carey argues that it is “impossible to say whether all things smiled with fragrance and joy, or whether Adam’s heart overflowed with fragrance and joy. Carey remarks, for example, that when “lapse” is first used it refers to the innocent movement of streams.After the fall, however, it “comes to signify original sin, and the loss of man’s freedom that goes with it”: “Maze,” “error,” “serpent” and “wandering” are other words that fall.But like everything else that Satan does, the offer is a façade.Unsurprisingly, no one volunteers after Satan’s bleak description of the “perilous attempt” and he quickly chooses to do it himself, thus showing himself of “highest worth” and solidifying his authority over his peers.An exceptional student of Latin and a gifted linguist, Milton coined more English words than Shakespeare, many of them first appearing in Paradise Lost (like “terrific,” “jubilant,” “space” to refer to outer space, as well as “pandemonium”). What the subtle merging of meaning shows is that Adam is at one with nature. The pulling of the branch from the tree evidently ruptured Adam’s heart even before he tastes its fruit.John Carey writes in his introduction to The Essential Paradise Lost that Milton’s long sentences, running over several lines of verse, often establish surprising points of comparison. with joy”: By quick instinctive motion up I sprung As thitherward endevoring, and upright Stood on my feet; about me round I saw Hill, Dale, and shadie Woods, and sunnie Plaines, And liquid Lapse of murmuring Streams; by these, Creatures that livd, and movd, and walk’d, or flew, Birds on the branches warbling; all things smil’d, With fragrance and with joy my heart oreflow’d. Key words are also repeated but change in meaning as the narrative progresses.Poole writes in Milton and the Making of Paradise Lost that Milton “regards evil as disarmingly close in appearance to the good,” and it is only by careful moral reasoning that the two can be separated.Shortly after Milton returned from Italy in 1639, where he met Galileo and spent several months participating in various Florentine literary salons, he wrote in his commonplace book, “In moral evil much good may be mixed, and that with singular craft.” The battle of the angels in 'Paradise Lost,' as depicted in a 19th-century illustration by Gustave Doré.Early readers, Poole reminds us, shared Milton’s belief “in the truth of his subject”—that is, of God, angels, and demons.Like many readers in the 17th and 18th centuries, John Wesley read the poem devotionally. This is our view today, and Milton would not like it.” John Milton (1608-1674) [Hulton Archive/Getty] Milton began the poem sometime after 1652—the year he went completely blind and lost his first wife—and perhaps as late as 1658. While Milton’s nephew, Edward, claimed that Milton dictated the more than 11,500 lines of verse in nearly perfect form in groups of 10 to 30 at a time, Jonathan Richardson argued in another early account of the poet’s life that he would dictate 40 lines while still in bed in the morning and later cut them by half.