The Complete Poems and Major Prose by John MiltonI wont write a long review for this work, as Ive written individual reviews for most of the works contained in it (Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, Comus, Samson Agonistes, Doctrine of Divorce, Christian Doctrine, etc.).
I picked up this collection about 8 or 9 years ago with the intent of getting to it eventually, never anticipating that it would take me almost a decade to crack it open -- other books beckoning me and always diverting me from visiting Milton. While I was familiar with Paradise Lost inasmuch as it is so entrenched in the cultural lexicon of the Western World, I thought of Milton as likely a bit stale. And it surely helped little that Donald Sutherlands character in Animal House had this to say about that other great English bard (Shakespeare being the first):
I find Milton probably as boring as you find Milton. Mrs. Milton found him boring too. Hes a little bit long-winded, he doesnt translate very well into our generation, and his jokes are terrible.
I began with Paradise Lost, as it was a selection that my reading group decided to tackle, and I actually found that work very fresh, but when I dove back into the earlier poetry of Milton, and then into some of his prose, I did find him a bit more of a bore, to be honest.
But in works like Samson Agonistes, Paradise Regained and his treatises against the monarchy, he showed himself to be an interesting companion -- very erudite, and at times excessively long-winded, but informative. My experiences with John Milton were like a dinner party with a host that one is at first glad to see, but whose presence becomes tiring after a while. Im pleased to have read Milton, as he has left a major mark on Western literature; and he will not be soon forgotten, but I doubt very highly that I would pay him a visit again (at least not any time in the foreseeable future).
John Milton: Paradise Lost
The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton
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Look Inside. Nov 13, ISBN Oct 28, ISBN John Milton is, next to William Shakespeare, the most influential English poet, a writer whose work spans an incredible breadth of forms and subject matter. Edited by a trio of esteemed scholars, this volume is the definitive Milton for our time. Among the newly edited and authoritatively annotated prose selections are letters, pamphlets, political tracts, essays such as Of Education and Areopagitica , and a generous portion of his heretical Christian Doctrine. With his deep learning and the sensual immediacy of his language, Milton creates for us a unique bridge to the cultures of classical antiquity and medieval and Renaissance Christianity.