The Spicy Lotus

March 24, 2008

Paradise Lost, John Milton

Filed under: Classic,English,Poetry — pha9 @ 11:20 pm

Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books; a second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve books (in the manner of the division of Virgil’s Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification. The poem concerns the Judeo-Christian story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton’s purpose, stated in Book I, is “to justify the ways of God to men” (l. 26) and elucidate the conflict between God’s eternal foresight and free will.

The protagonist of this epic is the fallen angel, Satan. Milton presents Satan as an ambitious and proud being who defies his creator, omnipotent God, and wages war on Heaven, only to be defeated and cast down. Indeed, William Blake, a great admirer of Milton and illustrator of the epic poem, said of Milton that “he was a true Poet, and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.”(Blake 1793) Some critics regard the character of Lucifer as a precursor of the Byronic hero.(Eliot 1932)

Milton worked for Oliver Cromwell and the Parliament of England and thus wrote first-hand for the Commonwealth of England. Arguably, the failed rebellion and reinstallation of the monarchy left him to explore his losses within Paradise Lost. Some critics say that he sympathized with the Satan in this work, in that both he and Satan had experienced a failed cause.

Milton incorporates Paganism, classical Greek references and Christianity within the story. He greatly admired the classics but intended this work to surpass them. The poem grapples with many difficult theological issues, including fate, predestination, and the Trinity.

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March 15, 2008

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Filed under: Classic,English — pha9 @ 3:15 pm

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by the British author Mary Shelley. Shelley wrote the novel when she was 18 years old. The first edition was published anonymously in London in 1818. Shelley’s name appears on the revised third edition, published in 1831. The title of the novel refers to a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who learns how to create life and creates a being in the likeness of man, but larger than average and more powerful. In modern popular culture, people have tended to refer to the Creature as “Frankenstein” (especially in films since 1931), despite this being the name of the scientist. Frankenstein is a novel infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement. It was also a warning against the “over-reaching” of modern man and the Industrial Revolution, alluded to in the novel’s subtitle, The Modern Prometheus. The story has had an influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films. It is arguably considered the first fully realized science fiction novel. The novel raises many issues that can be linked to today’s society.

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