Paperback / softback
February 8, 2020
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v2.1 Reference

Paradise Lost

A Primer

A record of a teacher's lifelong love affair with the beauty, wit, and profundity of Paradise Lost, celebrating John Milton's un-doctrinal, complex, and therefore deeply satisfying perception of the human condition. After surveying Milton's recurrent struggle as a reconciler of conflicting ideals, this Primer undertakes a book-by-book reading of Paradise Lost, reviewing key features of Milton's "various style," and why we treasure that style. Cavanagh constantly revisits Milton the singer and maker, and the artistic problems he faced in writing this almost impossible poem.

This book is emphatically for first-time readers of Milton, with little or no prior exposure, but with ambition to encounter challenging poetry. These are readers who tell you they "have always been meaning to read Paradise Lost," who seek to enjoy the epic without being overwhelmed by its daunting learning and expansive frame of reference. Avoiding the narrowly specialized focus of most Milton scholarship, Cavanagh deals forthrightly with issues that recur across generations of readers, gathering selected voices—from scholars and poets alike—from 1674 through the present.

Lively and jargon-free, this Primer makes Paradise Lost accessible and fresh, offering a credible beginning to what is a great intellectual and aesthetic adventure.

About the Authors

Michael Cavanagh (1943–2017) was the Orville and Mary Patterson Routt Professor of Literature at Grinnell College. He published Professing Poetry: Seamus Heaney's Poetics (CUA Press), as well as poems in The Heartland Review, The Sewanee Review, The South Carolina Review, Rattle, The South Dakota Review, and elsewhere. Scott Newstok (editor) is the author of How to Think Like Shakespeare.


"Exactly what it sets out to be: a primer - not a companion, although I can imagine young teachers having it on their desks as they try to begin to teach undergraduates and themselves its extraordinary power. A humane and useful contribution to Milton studies."—Annabel Patterson, Yale University

9780813232461 : paradise-lost-cavanagh-newstok
Paperback / softback
February 8, 2020
$29.95 USD

Other Titles by Michael Cavanagh

Professing Poetry

Michael Cavanagh
Aug 2010 - The Catholic University of America Press
$24.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in LITERARY CRITICISM / Poetry

Time for Childhoods

Rachel Conrad
Nov 2019 - University of Massachusetts Press
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The Power of Less

Samuel Hazo
Aug 2019 - Franciscan University Press
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Imagined Homelands

Jason R. Rudy
Dec 2017 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$49.95 USD - Hardback
$49.95 USD - Electronic book text