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Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained [Mass Market Paperback]

John Milton , Fay Weldon , Susanne Woods

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Book Description

Nov. 2 2010 0451531647 978-0451531643 Reprint
These controversial epic poems demonstrate Milton's genius for fusing sense and sound, classicism and innovation, narrative and drama in profound explorations of the moral problems of God's justice-and what it truly means to be human.


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About the Author

John Milton was born in London on December 9, 1608, and studied at the University of Cambridge. He originally planned to become a clergyman, but abandoned those ambitions to become a poet. Political in his writings, he served a government post during the time of the Commonwealth. In 1651, he went completely blind but he continued to write, finishing Paradise Lost in 1667, and Paradise Regained in 1671. He died in 1674.
Christopher Ricks is professor of humanities at Boston University and most recently author of Dylan’s Visions of Sin.
Susanne Woods is a Provost nad Professor of English at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, and Chair of the professional Northeast Milton Seminar. Her doctorate is from Columbia University and she has taught at the University of Hawaii, Franklin & Marshall College, and at Brown University, where she maintains an affiliation. Her books include Natural Emphasis: English Versification from Chaucer to Dryden (1984), and Lanyer: A Renaissance Woman Poet (1999), and she has published numerous articles on Milton and other English renaissance poets.

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  70 reviews
103 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic work July 15 2003
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Of Man's first disobedience and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till on greater Man
Restore us and regain the blissful seat
Sing, Heavenly Muse...
Not a lot people know that 'Paradise Lost' has as a much lesser known companion piece 'Paradise Regained'; of course, it was true during Milton's time as it is today that the more harrowing and juicy the story, the better it will likely be remembered and received.
This is not to cast any aspersion on this great poem, however. It has been called, with some justification, the greatest English epic poem. The line above, the first lines of the first book of the poem, is typical of the style throughout the epic, in vocabulary and syntax, in allusiveness. The word order tends toward the Latinate, with the object coming first and the verb coming after.
Milton follows many classical examples by personifying characters such as Death, Chaos, Mammon, and Sin. These characters interact with the more traditional Christian characters of Adam, Eve, Satan, various angels, and God. He takes as his basis the basic biblical text of the creation and fall of humanity (thus, 'Paradise Lost'), which has taken such hold in the English-speaking world that many images have attained in the popular mind an almost biblical truth to them (in much the same way that popular images of Hell owe much to Dante's Inferno). The text of Genesis was very much in vogue in the mid-1600s (much as it is today) and Paradise Lost attained an almost instant acclaim.
John Milton was an English cleric, a protestant who nonetheless had a great affinity for catholic Italy, and this duality of interests shows in much of his creative writing as well as his religious tracts. Milton was nicknamed 'the divorcer' in his early career for writing a pamphlet that supported various civil liberties, including the right to obtain a civil divorce on the grounds of incompatibility, a very unpopular view for the day. Milton held a diplomatic post under the Commonwealth, and wrote defenses of the governments action, including the right of people to depose and dispose of a bad king.
Paradise Lost has a certain oral-epic quality to it, and for good reason. Milton lost his eyesight in 1652, and thus had to dictate the poem to several different assistants. Though influenced heavily by the likes of Virgil, Homer, and Dante, he differentiated himself in style and substance by concentrating on more humanist elements.
Say first -- for Heaven hides nothing from thy view,
Nor the deep tract of Hell -- say first what cause
Moved our grand Parents, in that happy state,
Favoured of Heaven so highly, to fall off
From their Creator and transgress his will,
For one restraint, lords of the world besides?
Milton drops us from the beginning into the midst of the action, for the story is well known already, and proceeds during the course of the books (Milton's original had 10, but the traditional epic had 12 books, so some editions broke books VII and X into two books each) to both push the action forward and to give developing background -- how Satan came to be in Hell, after the war in heaven a description that includes perhaps the currently-most-famous line:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in hell:
Better to reign in hell, that serve in heav'n.
(Impress your friends by knowing that this comes from Book I, lines 261-263 of Paradise Lost, rather than a Star Trek episode!)
The imagery of warfare and ambition in the angels, God's wisdom and power and wrath, the very human characterisations of Adam and Eve, and the development beyond Eden make a very compelling story, done with such grace of language that makes this a true classic for the ages. The magnificence of creation, the darkness and empty despair of hell, the manipulativeness of evil and the corruptible innocence of humanity all come through as classic themes. The final books of the epic recount a history of humanity, now sinful, as Paradise has been lost, a history in tune with typical Renaissance renderings, which also, in Milton's religious convictions, will lead to the eventual destruction of this world and a new creation.
A great work that takes some effort to comprehend, but yields great rewards for those who stay the course.
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Milton Accessible Jan. 21 2000
By Thomas A. Copeland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ricks provides the most helpful and least pedantic footnotes since James Holly Hanford's edition. They are unobtrusive and on the same page as the text. The text itself is reliable and in modern spelling, but Milton's apostrophes have been retained to make certain that the pronunciations he specified (for metrical reasons) are indicated. There could, perhaps, be wider margins for making annotations.
52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare's Successor March 26 2000
By Sean Ares Hirsch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare were indeed grand masters of literature for all time. "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise Regained" is enough to put John Milton in the same category. Like Marlowe and Shakespeare, Milton demonstrates extreme scholarship and a superb mastery of the language. It is interesting how Milton takes figures that are mentioned briefly in the scriptures and turns them into major characters. It is also frightening how Milton was able to make God and Satan 3 dimensional as opposed to simply good (in God's case) and evil (in Satan's case). This book is not for everyone. But if you do not mind an unorthodox portrayal of God and Satan and if you want to enjoy beautiful language, superb images, dramatic confrontations, and powerful images, you must read this masterpiece composed with superb and delicate skill.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the Signet edition is my favorite May 5 2007
By Caraculiambro - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have maybe a half-dozen editions of "Paradise Lost."

Whenever I need to reread it quickly, I pick up the Signet Classic edition. It's got to be my favorite.

There are more thorough editions, certainly. But the thing I like about the Signet edition is that it's got this whole Goldilocks thing going on with the footnotes. Not too few, not too many.

In the text, words and phrases that are glossed at the bottom of the page have a little circle (a degree sign) next to them. You look down if you need to; if you don't, you keep reading. I like this because many editions don't indicate in the running text when something has a gloss: one must flip to the back of the book to hunt this out for oneself.

Additionally, there are not so many footnotes that they clutter up half (or more) of the page: I'm sure you're familiar with this sight.

Originally this was edited by Christopher Ricks (of Cambridge). In addition to the bibliography, chronology, and footnotes, he also wrote a short introduction. That unremarkable introduction has now been supplanted by one done by Susanne Woods, to which I am also indifferent.

The Signet edition also fits snugly in your hand, as other, meatier editions do not.

Too bad Amazon buries this edition in the back pages. I had to hunt around a while before I could find it!
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Blind Man creates a Sensational Poem!!! April 18 2005
By Stephen Pletko - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
+++++

(Note that this review is for the book "Paradise Lost & Paradise Regained" published by Signet Classic in 2001.)

"Of Man's First disobedience, and the Fruit
Of the Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat"

Thus begins some say the greatest and most controversial epic non-rhyming poem (which has two parts, some say two poems) in English literature. The first part was published in 1667 and the second part in 1671 by a then blind poet named John Milton (1608 to 1674).

"Paradise Lost" consists of twelve long chapters or "books." "Paradise Regained" is the more subdued and much simpler second part and consists of four books. The first part is centered around the biblical story of the fall of Adam and Eve and ranges from heaven to hell while the second part is the story of Satan's triple temptation of the Son of God in the wilderness.

Both parts of this poem can be read for their magnificent poetry, their powerful imagery and language, their imaginative vision and storytelling, or their complex and passionate view of human suffering.

My favorite lines from this poem are:

" The mind is its own place, and in itself,
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n."

Besides the poem, this particular book has three main features:

(1) Introduction by Dr. Susanne Woods, a Professor of English (at Wheaton College in Massachusetts). It is excellent and provides valuable insight on Milton's poem.

(2) Notes and Footnotes by Chris Ricks, a professor of humanities (at Boston University). Each chapter or book of the poem begins with a brief "argument," a note that summarizes in modern English each book's contents. I found these an invaluable aid. As well, there are footnotes throughout that help the reader with obscure language and indicate nuances and puns.

(3) Chronology of Milton's life. When did Milton go blind? Was Milton married? Was Milton ever arrested? These are the sorts of questions that are answered instantly in this section.

This poem can be a challenging read but ultimately worth it. I recommend not rushing when reading it.

The artwork on the cover of this book is impressive. It is an image entitled "The Shepherd's Dream" (from "Paradise Lost") by artist Henry Fuseli.

Finally, to get an extraordinary visual impression of the first, longer part of this poem, I recommend "Dore's Illustrations for Paradise Lost" (1993) by Gustave Dore.

In conclusion, be sure two read this epic poem to see why it "has thrilled, challenged, and sometimes dismayed readers from the seventeenth to twenty-first century!"

(published 2001; introduction; general note on this text; a note on this edition; chronology; "Paradise Lost" in 12 books; "Paradise Regained" in 4 books; main narrative 360 pages; selected bibliography)

+++++

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