Posted in Blogging, Book, Literature, Poetry

Book Review: Paradise Lost

A masterpiece. Rating: 100 out of 10.

Me 

My review could have ended there but I’ll expand on this. It is a masterpiece of literature, the lines of which, in my opinion, would greatly inspire anyone, regardless of their world views and religion.

Though of course, Paradise Lost isn’t for everyone, that’s true. As I’d mentioned before, it took me several tries to get into it. However, if you want to read a piece of classical literature which is not only full of beautiful metaphors, engaging characters, and intriguing subtext, but also encompasses one of the greatest varieties of spiritual and philosophical themes that everyone, and I mean everyone, can relate to, then I strongly suggest you give it a try. Or two. What helped me is rereading the very first page of the book over and over again until I got used to Milton and actually understood what was going on; then my reading pace increased and I became fully immersed in the text.

But what is the text about?


Wikipedia, my old friend, says this:

The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Ah, but it is so much more. (Sort of spoilers but come on. You’ve heard this before.)

We start with the fall of Satan and follow him right after he and the angels he led into rebellion find themselves in the pits of hell.

We hear him and his lackeys plotting how they may best disrupt God’s actions, and first the idea to corrupt or bring destruction upon mankind comes to Satan’s mind.

We follow him through abysses and oblivions leading to Eden, where he is awed at the pair of humans he finds.

We ascend to Heaven and see how God fortells the fall of man, and how the Son of God offers to die himself for the salvation of humanity.

We are told by the Archangel Raphael what happened during the War in Heaven, and his tale literally made me see a CGI motion picture in my mind.

We see how Eve, then Adam, disobey God’s direct command and Paradise Lost ends just how it’s supposed to end, according to the Bible and common sense.

But what I loved most was how Milton managed to tell the story.

I’ll admit, sometimes I found myself getting bored, but mostly because I couldn’t understand the references Milton was making. If you’re reading this with links that explain things like this in the text, you won’t have the same problem. Say, 90 percent of the time I found myself bombarded with awe-inspiring wording, not at all cliche or too sophisticated, but rather original and simplistic.

E.g.

Mercy first and last shall brightest shine.

Me miserable! which way shall I flie
Infinite wrauth, and infinite despaire?
Which way I flie is Hell; my self am Hell…

So dear I love him, that with him all deaths
I could endure, without him live no life.

When I stumbled upon such descriptions/dialogue, it made me all warm and fuzzy inside. I felt so happy that such beauty existed in this flawed world of ours, and I came to the very unlikely but just conclusion that yes, I’ve found someone who can rival Shakespeare’s poetry in my eyes. Milton uses the iambic pentameter just as skilfully, believe me.


Check out my other posts on Paradise Lost (there are several, yeah, I really loved it).

If you decide to give it a try/have already read it/liked it/didn’t like it, regardless, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Advertisements
Posted in Best Quotations, Blogging, Book, Literature, Reading, Review

Best Books: To Kill a Mockingbird

So yesterday, while thinking about what to write in the review of To Kill  Mockingbird, I seriously considered taking my average review word count (600 words) and writing perfect perfect perfect perfect… you get the idea.

Because really, what can I say about this masterpiece? It’s an amazing book that I think everyone should read at least once. It’s tender and beautiful, heartbreaking and joyful, hopeful and thought-provoking. Aka, everything a book should be.

Instead of doing a proper review, I’ll recount the lessons I learned after reading this book and share some of my favorite quotes. Here goes…


You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

Atticus

The most important lesson in the book, in our lives, in the multiverse. I’m guilty of often being stubborn and unable to view things from other people’s perspectives (I need a lesson from Tyrion Lannister, it seems) though I’m working to improve on that. The book opened my eyes to how this is, essentially, the core of all interpersonal relations. If you lack this understanding, it inevitably leads to conflict.

And we have far too much conflict in our world already so we can’t afford to disregard others’ feelings.

Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Miss Maudie

In my view, Tom Robinson was a mockingbird who was killed for no reason. He wasn’t guilty, that much is clear. All he did was feel sorry for a white woman and helped her practically every day, he literally sang his heart out like a mockingbird, and what did he get in return? Hate, anger and death all because he was unfortunate enough to be born black in a segregated society.

The sheriff points out that dragging the reclusive Arthur Radley into the limelight after he killed Bob Ewell would be a sin, and he is, of course, right. Arthur, too, did nothing but care for the kids, saved their lives in the end and as Scout points out in the end of the book, “We had given him nothing, and it made me sad.” But they did give him something—the opportunity to be part of their family, if only for a few minutes as he acquaints himself with Scout and says goodbye to Jem. His storyline in the book ends on a happier note that Tom Robinson’s, yet he returns to his isolated existence. Which brings me to another point…

I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time… it’s because he wants to stay inside.

Jem

Let’s look around. Orlando. Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Dallas. Nice. That’s not all of the tragedies that took place and that’s, what, only the two past months?

Hate and anger surround us, creating a nightmare out of what can be a happy world. Discrimination still persists although it’s the twenty-first century. AD. After thousands of years, we still cling to prejudice and refuse to see things from others’ perspective. If Jem is right and Arthur isn’t inclined to be social because the bigotry, segregation and injustice in Maycomb County is too much to bear, who’d blame him? It’s a scary planet, a scary country, a scary city, etc. to live in.

But let’s hope. I’ll never get tired of saying this, even when things are downright terrible. Let’s hope that someday, discrimination will be eliminated and nothing close to what happened to Tom Robinson will take place in the real world. Let’s hope that people learn to be kinder to each other. Let’s hope that those innocent souls who do nothing but good won’t become victims of injustice. Through all the tears and laughs this book evoked, I retained this feeling of hopefulness and serenity, that not all is lost and humanity will change.


I did a review of the movie To Kill a Mockingbird yesterday, and I’d like to thank everyone who commented on the post. I loved reading your insight on both the book and the film!

Feel free to comment below and share your favorite quotes from this book.

Till next time!

Next Sunday Review: Paradise Lost by John Milton

Posted in Best Quotations, Literature, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: Infernal Monologue

This amazing track by Two Steps From Hell goes great with these quotes.


This isn’t actually infernal, even though these are all quotes from Satan while he is on his journey to Eden. In fact, this is where he expresses self-doubt about his planned endeavor (corrupting Adam and Eve) and thinks (oh my!) of repentance. Though fleetingly. Let’s start with this:

paradise long post 1

As Jane Dougherty had mentioned in a comment to a previous post, Milton’s “poetry gushes when he’s writing about the fiend.” It really does. You see how the verses liven up when Satan starts talking, and it’s all Shakespearean and Hamlet-like, full of quaint metaphors and deep philosophizing.

Here’s what Satan says about his revolt against God, who only required love and praise from the angels he created:

paradise lost long post 2

How can good prove ill and wring malice? The fact is that God, knowing that his creations living in complete obedience to him would be wrong, created both angel and man free. Freedom plays a large part in Milton’s poem–and in our daily lives.

What does it truly mean though, to be free? Certainly not being limitless and egocentric. Freedom to make your own choices, both good and bad ones, freedom to choose to learn from your mistakes or go on repeating them, freedom to choose one in millions of possible career choices, romantic preferences, places to live in, mottos to live by… that is true freedom, in my opinion. However, there’s a problem–all of that is crammed into one lifetime. That’s a lot of energy we have to use to try and choose the right path. And not to end up in a predicament like once-pure angel Lucifer.

The devil born from Lucifer says this after he recalls the admiration of his demon allies:

paradise long post 7

“Such joy ambition finds…”

And, returning to freedom, this is what Satan says about the other angel, who proved stronger in terms of willpower and didn’t follow him in his battle against God:

paradise long post 3

Conclusion?

paradise long post 4

But does it? Maybe, he just didn’t want to accept–and give back–the love? Which leads to:

paradise long post 5

This connection he feels with hell stems, in my opinion, from the deadly hate he is buried by at this point. He rejected the goodness God had gifted him, and now finds the only way forward is to hell. However, he does attempt this curious thought:

paradise long post 6

He views repentance as submission/losing/giving up. Then again… God is forgiving. God is love. As the Father says to the Son (quote from Book 3):

Mercy first and last shall brightest shine.

Beautiful wording and so much meaning. If only, Satan had tried going on this path of repentance he thought about. If only, Adam and Eve had been truly remorseful after eating the forbidden fruit, if they had admitted their disobedience instead of pointing to Eve and the serpent respectfully… the story we’ve heard a thousand times and more could have gone very differently.

But the arch-fiend abandons all thoughts of remorse and, with these words, sets out to find Eden and the unsuspecting couple there:

paradise long post 8


What are your thoughts on these quotes? If you’ve read Paradise Lost, how do your views differ from mine? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

P.S. I want to create a John Milton fan club. Anyone with me?

Posted in Best Quotations, Literature, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: Pleasure and Pain

Not the most harrowing descriptions of hell, for sure, but the vivid language Milton uses earns him a lot of kudos, at least from me. Here he describes the four rivers of hell (Styx, Acheron, Cocytus, Phlegeton) and the river of oblivion, Lethe.

paradise lost 11.jpg

I love Milton’s mix of Ancient mythology and biblical references. It creates a magical universe that’s fun to read about–even if it’s about these dark hellish depths.

 

 

Posted in Best Quotations, Literature, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: Life for Life

Below is another one of Satan’s musings. He plans to corrupt the new race God has created (us, humans) so God may, “with repenting hand abolish his own works.”

paradise lost 9.jpg

This does turn out well for him at first. And yet, as Milton so beautifully describes (after God foresees that Satan will succeed in corrupting Adam and Eve):

paradise lost 17.jpg

The Son of God volunteers to die for mankind’s salvation, and these verses are beautiful to read. Free of the emotional turmoil that we see in the undoubtedly enticing lines from Satan, Book Three, mostly set in Heaven, has a gentle serenity to it. This is a favorite of mine–the Son of God says:

paradise lost 18.jpg

A heart-rending sacrifice, which leads to another beautiful conclusion:

paradise lost 19.jpg

Don’t all of our problems here on planet Earth ultimately come from the lack of love? I hope I don’t sound moralizing but really, many crimes, many arguments, many estrangements could easily be prevented by this feeling of love, the readiness to sacrifice your own comfort for another person, even an enemy.

Anyway, returning to Milton, this act earns the Son of God the praise of the angels, and I’d like to share another verse, just because it’s awesome:

paradise lost 20.jpg

Posted in Best Quotations, Literature, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: This Deep World of Darkness

A line from the discussion between fallen angels. After proposing that they, though fallen, could thrive under evil and “when great things of small, / Useful of hurtful, prosperous of adverse / We can create…”, Mammon says:

paradise lost 8.jpg

And of course, the Daily Prompt today would be cowardice. Mammon says the demons shouldn’t fear hell and its dreadful darkness, that they can imitate light and prosper if only they try hard enough. This, ultimately, leads nowhere because they, chiefly Satan, use evil means to achieve this goal. No attempt at remorse or repentance; that would be, of course, much harder than spreading evil around. After all, as Satan later says:

paradise lost 10.jpg


Well, I’ve started Book Nine of Paradise Lost and I’m more and more impressed with Milton’s work. Whether you share this sentiment or not, feel free to leave a comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the work in general and these particular quotes.

Check out my other posts on Paradise Lost if you want.

Posted in Literature, Reading, Saturday Stories

Saturday Stories: William Wilson (Poe)

I stumbled upon this story while studying for the literature exam last semester. One of the books we had to read was Lolita, and since this is Nabokov, I couldn’t help but delve deep into analysis. Boy, was I surprised to find the many a curious allusions to Poe in Nabokov’s novel, ranging from the shout-out to the poem Annabel Lee to the anagram Vivian Darkbloom. One of these allusions happened to be the vague similarity between the Humbert-Quilty plot and the story of William Wilson and his mysterious twin in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story. Upon reading it, I was amazed, as I always am with Poe, and here are some reasons why.

The narration—

Is pleasant, flowing nicely and gradually building suspense. William Wilson (pseudonym) actually reminded me somewhat of Humbert Humbert. The way he talks about himself and his past, concealing no flaws, admitting that he is “self-willed, addicted to the wildest caprices, and a prey to the most ungovernable passions.” He poses this question in the beginning of the story though:

…although temptation may have erewhile existed as great, man was never thus, at least, tempted before—certainly, never thus fell. <…> And am I not now dying a victim to the horror and the mystery of the wildest of all sublunary visions?

This opens many possibilities as to what happens next. What horror has this person suffered through? Physical, mental torment? Which brings me to…

The plot—

Is simple yet intricately told about, cautionary but not preachy, thought-provoking but not too philosophical. William encounters a student at school (later: Wilson) who seemingly looks like him, acts like him, apparently mimics William to irritate him. After they part, the narrator still fails to find peace; his twin pursues him like a shadow, his goal seeming to be “to frustrate those schemes, or to disturb those actions, which, if fully carried out, might have resulted in bitter mischief.”

Cornering Wilson one day and murdering him, William is faced with a mirror in which he sees his ‘antagonist’ who says:

You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforward art thou also dead—dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist—and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself.

The themes—

You cannot evade conscience. By destroying it, you damage yourself. That much is clear. But another meaning I derived from this story is the danger of false assumptions, pride and anger, all of which hasten William’s downfall.

First, he assumes that Wilson means him harm, mimics him, trying to evoke his wrath. Second, William feels more and more irritated as he finds more and more similarities between himself and his ‘twin.” His uniqueness and superiority undermined, he is angered. Such a destructive emotion brings nothing but harm, so what ultimately happened to the character is no surprise.


I won’t post any ratings for these stories because for ‘Saturday Stories’ I’ll be sort-of-reviewing the classics and they all deserve 10/10 stars as far as I’m concerned.

What interests me is your opinion. Have you read the story? If so, what do you think of it? If you haven’t, would you like to? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Till next time!

Posted in Best Quotations, Literature, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: Awake, Arise…

Yet again, a line from Satan to the other fallen angels:

paradise lost 7

Taken individually, it presents a motivating message: stand up, fight, don’t give up. But in the poem, the angels are already “for ever fall’n.” Is this simply a false assumption?

The following is a quaint quote describing the fallen angels, whose names are erased from the Books of Life:

paradise lost 6

Belial (“then whom a Spirit more lewd / Fell not from Heaven…”), considering the idea of another rebellion against Heaven, says that it would inevitably lead to another failure and their destruction, the “sad cure”:

paradise lost 5

The last one is an interesting passage, and as noted by Regina Schwartz (Remembering and Repeating 20) is reminiscent of Hamlet’s soliloquy.

Feel free to tell me what you think about these in the comments!

Posted in Best Quotations, Blogging, Literature, Reading

Paradise Lost: The Mind Is Its Own Place

Another line from Satan. As noted by Samir Chopra, these lines “become part of the defenses he erects to protect himself against the Fall and the loss of Heaven: the displacement is permanent, but so long as his spirit and his consciousness are as ever before, all is not lost.”

This can be perceived in different contexts, but really, considering that said character’s mind, though it is its own place, is as corrupt and malicious as anything can get, this will lead nowhere.

paradise lost 3.png

Another intriguing quote from the Arch-Antagonist:

paradise lost 4.png

Not in my view. Besides, the reigning in hell doesn’t really turn out very well, does it?