Paradise Lost was recognized as a major epic poem soon after its publication in 1667. For more than three centuries, critics have been describing, interpreting, and evaluating it. Regardless of their approaches to changing literary values, they have generally accepted it as the prime example of the epic in English. As many critics have observed, the poem brought biblical, literary, cultural, social, scientific, and political elements into such aesthetic harmony that even its detractors have been forced to recognize its greatness. And because of its complexity, it has become a test case in literary studies as a focal point for changing critical assumptions and literary values. This reference book traces the critical reception of Paradise Lost from the 17th century to the present. The volume is organized in chapters devoted to particular centuries, with each chapter presenting a selection of reviews and critical essays from that period. Thus the reader is able to chart the changing response to ^IParadise Lost^R over time. An introductory essay summarizes the reception of Milton's work, and a bibliography lists important sources of additional information.The volume is organized in chapters devoted to particular centuries. Each chapter then presents a selection of reviews and critical essays from that period. Thus the reader is able to read the 17th-century responses of Samuel Barrow, John Dryden, and Joseph Addison; the 18th-century reactions of Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, and William Blake; the 19th-century reactions of British Romantic and Victorian poets; and the 20th-century contributions of major scholars such as E.M.W. Tillyard, Stanley Fish, Louis Martz, and Northrop Frye. The volume closes with a sampling of Milton's own comments about Paradise Lost and the epic, and a selected bibliography of major editions, reference works, and critical studies.
The Critical Response to John Milton's Paradise Lost
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