‘Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n …’ In Paradise Lost Milton produced poem of epic scale, conjuring up a vast, awe-inspiring cosmos and ranging across huge tracts of space and time. And yet, in putting a charismatic Satan and naked Adam and Eve at the centre of this story, he also created an intensely human tragedy on the Fall of Man. Written when Milton was in his fifties – blind, bitterly disappointed by the Restoration and briefly in danger of execution – Paradise Lost’s apparent ambivalence towards authority has led to intense debate about whether it manages to ‘justify the ways of God to men’, or exposes the cruelty of Christianity. John Leonard’s revised edition of Paradise Lost contains full notes, elucidating Milton’s biblical, classical and historical allusions and discussing his vivid, highly original use of language and blank verse.
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. By 1660, he was completely blind but continued to write, finishing Paradise Lost in 1667, and Paradise Regained in 1671. He died in 1674.
John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English poet, polemicist, man of letters, and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), written in blank verse. Milton's poetry and prose reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the urgent issues and political turbulence of his day. Writing in English, Latin, Greek, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime, and his celebrated Areopagitica (1644)—written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship—is among history's most influential and impassioned defences of free speech and freedom of the press.