Paradise Regained was surprisingly accessible, especially so close on the heels of Paradise Lost. First, it was much shorter. At four books of 500-600 lines each, I was able to read it all in one sitting (about 2 hours), which gave it consistency and context (with Paradise Lost, I was taking long breaks in between each book). Paradise Regained also lacked the classic “name dropping” that made Paradise Lost complicated. It had plenty of New Testament references, but for me that was not exhausting. From a Christian perspective, the story of Christ resisting temptation was utterly satisfying. Finally, from beginning to end, it had Milton’s wonderful poetic language. I really enjoyed reading Paradise Regained.Continue Reading
And so, I come to the end of Paradise Lost. If you’re still reading it, feel free to leave your thoughts whenever you do finish it. There is no time limit to this project: read at your own pace and join in when you’ve finished.
For myself, I don’t think I “understood” it any better than I did the first time I read it seven years ago. That time, I was discussing it in a classroom. This time, I read it for enjoyment. We have been discussing it online, and I’ve been trying to further discussion through relevant questions and my own comments. I’ve come to a little bit of a discovery, though: everyone reads things in such a unique way that it’s very difficult to create relevant questions and it’s difficult to answer questions about something so huge as Milton’s Paradise Lost, even if you’re the one creating the questions to begin with. I think I need to read it a few more times in my life in order to better “discuss” it in any format.
This post, then, is a bit different. I leave us all with a series of related questions. My thoughts follow the jump.
- What was Paradise Lost about from your perspective? What did it mean to you as you read it?
- Milton says in the beginning that he wrote it to “justify the ways of God to men” (I.26). Did he succeed?
- In the end, what did you take away from Milton’s epic?
I was once on this site accused of being a book banner because I disliked a book and I was not nice in the comments on this site. When I started a discussion post about it last year, you were all quick to give your opinions on what it means to be a book banner, and to reassure me that I didn’t sound like one. Nevertheless, I have often thought about “book banning” and what does it mean in this day and age.
Reading about the English civil war, the Interregnum, and Restoration England this month has put censorship into perspective. In John Milton’s day, censorship was a reality. In fact, books were required to be licensed by the government. As both a political and religious man who happened to disagree with much of what was happening at various times, Milton certainly did not want to have to get his writings government approved.
Milton’s response to the licensing issue, “Areopagitca,” was praised in a book I read as the best prose in the English language, so I thought I’d read it for my Milton in May project. I am glad I did because to my surprise it was both an engaging read and completely relevant. It reminded me strongly of Paradise Lost and I found it to be a good companion read to that.Continue Reading
How is Paradise Lost coming along for you who are reading along?
I admit that I slowed down a little bit in the last two weeks (hence, there was no Paradise Lost post last week). I got a head cold and I don’t think Milton is best considered on a cloudy brain. But, there is still a week left in the month, and I suspect I’ll still be reading Milton into the first week(s) of June. Once I picked up Milton again recently, I felt I needed to keep going. There seems to be some kind of momentum that comes from reading, and I always enjoy it once I do pick up Paradise Lost.
Discussion questions and thoughts on Books 7-9 after the jump.Continue Reading