Today, after almost three months of pure, unrivaled struggle, I finally finished (in every sense of the word) Paradise Lost by John Milton for the 2016 Reading Challenge, but more importantly, my fifth MA English essay. I actually finished reading the poem over a month ago, but the notes and references to every slight allusion were enough to drown in, hence I only skim read the remainder on the day I submitted my essay.
Title: Paradise Lost
Author: John Milton
Category: #50 A book for school
“One fatal Tree there stands of Knowledge called,
Forbidden them to taste: knowledge forbidd’n?
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? Can it be sin to know,
Can it be death?”
Paradise Lost is possibly one the most influential religious epics of all time. Milton, an esteemed scholar, incorporated into his epic all that he had learned and desired about religion, history and politics. Arguably the poem’s primary source material is the Bible, and the story of the fall of man, yet it is also littered with classical allusions to Greek and Roman mythology and literature.
There is no denying that this book is a long and difficult read. The main saving grace came in the form of the complicated individual of Satan, who although being the antagonist, is the only character with whom I felt any connection.
Epic or not, this isn’t a book I’d recommend delving into on a whim.
I’m not sure I’d ever have read Paradise Lost if it weren’t for it being compulsory for my latest piece of work. Possibly the thing I love the most about my MA is that it is forcing me to read books and genres I wouldn’t otherwise choose to read; some of which I thoroughly enjoyed and others (like Paradise Lost) that I found demanding and almost painful. Whilst this was, without question, one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read (and essays ever written), thankfully I didn’t despise it quite as much at the end as I did at the beginning – small mercies.
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