Paradise Lost was Milton's masterpiece, written over a period of years and after its author had gone completely blind. The result is one of the most exquisite works in the English language. It's an epic battle of good versus evil, God versus Satan - and guess who wins?
When publishers tried to censor one of Milton's famous "Divorce Tracts," Milton responded with Areopagitica. Milton's impassioned defense of a free press is one of the most eloquent arguments made in favor of that right. It was a basis for the First Amendment guarantee to free speech in the U.S. Constitution.
Though he's best known for his Paradise Lost epic and long political screeds, his poems beautifully showcase Milton's poetic gifts. Short poems, such as "On His Blindness," show his ability to create lovely images. And the masque Comus is an early preview of his gift for epic storytelling.
This controversial book addressed a debate raging among Milton scholars: In Paradise Lost, is Milton on God's side or Satan's? Rather than take sides, Fish argues that Paradise Lost is not about the man who wrote it, but about the people who read it. He argues that the devil is a metaphor for fallen sinners everywhere - and that means all of us.
The 400th anniversary of Milton's book saw a spate of articles, exhibitions, and books about the great poet. This biography is a thorough, engaging introduction to Milton's life. Campbell and Corns are the editors of the Oxford Milton, the massive, authoritative anthology of the poet's work.
It's hard to come up with scintillating personal details about anyone who lived four centuries ago, let alone someone who guarded his personal life as closely as John Milton did. Milton scholar Anna Beer does a good job of bringing to life this complex poet.