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The Essential Paradise Lost

John Carey

A seminal contribution to literary criticism from one of the UK’s greatest living academics.

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After its publication in 1667, John Milton’s Paradise Lost was celebrated throughout Europe as a supreme achievement of the human spirit.

Now it is little read. To bring readers back to Milton’s masterpiece, John Carey has shortened it to a third of its original length. In this fascinating reinterpretation, Carey reveals new insights about Milton’s sources of inspiration, while exploring divided readings of the work’s key characters.

The Essential Paradise Lost presents the epic’s greatest poetry, with linking passages that preserve its cosmic sweep – from the superhuman defiance of a ruined archangel to a pair of tragic lovers, bewildered to find themselves responsible for the fate of the whole human race.

Critic Reviews

[Carey's] clarity of mind and expression enlivens where others deaden, and his judgments are powerful. If there were more academics with his energy and lucidity around, then literary criticism would be a happier discipline.

Daily Telegraph
Critic Reviews

A tremendous success. It conveys the intellectual energy and poetic power of Milton’s poem. It makes you argue with the poem and its editor. But, above all, it will make you want to read it.

Colin Burrow, Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

Carey’s edited highlights confirm [Milton] as our finest poet, and Carey as our craftiest critic . . . Essential reading.

Willy Maley, Times Higher Education Supplement

John Carey is an Emeritus Professor at Oxford University. His books include studies of Donne, Dickens and Thackeray, The Intellectuals and the Masses, What Good Are the Arts? and a life of William Golding., John Carey is an Emeritus Professor at Oxford University and a Fellow of the British Academy. His books include studies of Donne, Dickens and Thackeray, The…

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