Writing Epic: Paradise Lost

Charles Martindale

in The Oxford Handbook of Milton

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697885
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Writing Epic: Paradise Lost

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)



Paradise Lost is stamped everywhere with John Milton's opinions and with his personality, in the manner of a Romantic or post-Romantic poet, but the poem is also much larger than Milton. It is often seen today as the inevitable climax of Milton's poetic career. Paradise Lost was not also largely ignored on its appearance, as is sometimes believed. Its greatness of derives from the intensity of Milton's love of both the Bible and classical epic, and his various strategies for mediating between them. Paradise Lost could not have been written without Milton's profound knowledge of ancient epic; but it is a modern poem, in no sense a pastiche of the classical. Milton's achievement in making an epic out of one of the West's major myths was of European scope and vision.

Keywords: Paradise Lost; John Milton; poetic career; Bible; classical epic

Article.  12727 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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