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, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: No Thought of Flight

Before (finally lol) the review, here are some highlights from the battle between Lucifer’s rebellious crew and the faithful angels.

So Raphael begins his tale to Adam:

paradise lost 26

Talking about Lucifer, obviously. I like this as it shows how much damage sheer envy can do, even if you’re in a pretty good position. You start to feel jealous of something petty and insignificant, and sometimes, no money, power, success or high school popularity you have, this may become a problem. Which is why jealousy should be avoided like the plague.

paradise lost 27

So Lucifer speaks to his (still angel, I guess?) army. Even if the angels weren’t all equal, they were all equally free, he says. Even if all men on Earth can’t be equal (some are born with disabilities and some are Mozarts, we can’t do anything about that) they can, in theory, be equally free. Or are we already equally free, in choosing what we do with our lives for example? Yet some governmental regimes preclude certain freedoms. What is freedom anyway?

Rant ended. But those are something to think about, I guess.

paradise lost 28

Abdiel was the only angel who stood up against Satan and said yeah, you’re doing something wrong. Of course, his speech was bigger than that one line (and more poetic) and he was a bit harsher than “you’re wrong” but the important thing is — he did it.

He didn’t succumb to the overwhelming majority of angels who were readying to fight against God, even though, I’m sure, he was tempted to. Translating this to our lives, how many times do we face similar peer pressure, so to speak? And how many are afraid to be themselves because of the majority simply isn’t like them?

paradise lost 30

The last is directly from the battle, a description of the faithful angels. Just beautiful words that I felt like sharing with the world.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments!

Posted in Best Quotations, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: Knowledge of Good

And next to Life
Our Death the Tree of Knowledge grew fast by,
Knowledge of Good bought dear by knowing ill.

Another thought-provoking line from Paradise Lost, and it’s definitely one of my favorites. The “knowledge of good bought dear by knowing ill” has many analogies: how would we know what light is if there were no darkness? Put differently, how could we appreciate and value happiness if we didn’t know sadness?

Of course, Adam and Eve knew inherently that their state was pretty much awesome since God had given them Happiness and Immortality, but I guess the true implications of what good means and its connection/contrast with evil is what was kept in the Tree of Knowledge. If they were happy, though, how did Satan manage to tempt Eve? I think the answer lies in these lines:

But apt the Mind or Fancy is to roave
Uncheckt, and of her roaving is no end…

I don’t even want to remember how much time I spent (wasted?) wondering about deep philosophical things and (even more time) about impossible but cool physical phenomena (what would I see were I too travel faster than light?). Well for that last one, I have an excuse since I need this for my book, but still, my mind spent hours “roaving uncheckt” instead of doing something useful. The continuation of the phrase above:

Till warn’d, or by experience taught, she learne,
That not to know at large of things remote
From use, obscure and suttle, but to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime Wisdom, what is more, is fume…

So, settle for simple because striving for superior knowledge is useless? It sounds logical because really, the more we know, the more difficult our lives become. Then again… when has humanity ever gone for the easiest route?

Will we ever?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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 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!