Inside Paradise Lost
Reading the Designs of Milton's Epic
Inside "Paradise Lost" opens up new readings and ways of reading Milton's epic poem by mapping out the intricacies of its narrative and symbolic designs and by revealing and exploring the deeply allusive texture of its verse. David Quint’s comprehensive study demonstrates how systematic patterns of allusion and keywords give structure and coherence both to individual books of Paradise Lost and to the overarching relationship among its books and episodes. Looking at poems within the poem, Quint provides new interpretations as he takes readers through the major subjects of Paradise Lost—its relationship to epic tradition and the Bible, its cosmology and politics, and its dramas of human choice.
Quint shows how Milton radically revises the epic tradition and the Genesis story itself by arguing that it is better to create than destroy, by telling the reader to make love, not war, and by appearing to ratify Adam’s decision to fall and die with his wife. The Milton of this Paradise Lost is a Christian humanist who believes in the power and freedom of human moral agency. As this indispensable guide and reference takes us inside the poetry of Milton’s masterpiece, Paradise Lost reveals itself in new formal configurations and unsuspected levels of meaning and design.
David Quint is Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University. His books include Epic and Empire, Cervantes's Novel of Modern Times, and Montaigne and the Quality of Mercy (all Princeton).