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John Milton's Paradise Lost

1667

John Milton's Paradise Lost

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  • Intro

    They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,

    Through Eden took their solitary way.

     

    John Milton's ambitious rewriting of the Fall of Man is one of the most influential poems in the English language. First published in 1667, its aim was no less than to 'justifie the wayes of God to Man' - to explain why God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its portrayal of Satan, a charismatic rebel who is so intriguing that the poet William Blake commented that Milton was 'of the Devil's party without knowing it'. The poem enacts debates about the nature of free will and predestination, and has sparked much critical and philosophical discussion. It is told in blank verse, in twelve books, and its exuberant imagery, lengthy suspended sentences and distinctive sound-patterning can be attributed to the fact that the poem was composed after Milton went blind: it was dictated to a series of amanuenses, including the poet's daughters.

     

    Milton lived at a time of immense political change, and spent much of his life as a radical. Educated at Cambridge, he was a prolific pamphleteer, and campaigned vigorously for religious and civil liberties and the freedom of the Press.

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