A Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John Milton: Volume 5, Part 8 [Paradise Lost, Books 11-12]

A Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John Milton: Volume 5, Part 8 [Paradise Lost, Books 11-12]

Jameela Lares $85.00

Published in 2012 | 480 pages | cloth | ISBN: 978-0-8207-0446-3

Book Reviews:

“The volume offers a good balance of commentary on textual issues, backgrounds in theology and the history of ideas, and major interpretive disputes. Among the largest and most useful entries are those which bridge these last two categories, such as sections on ‘prevenient grace’ in book 11 and on the felix culpa in book 12. These commentaries offer not only basic explanation of concepts important in Milton’s theology but also outlines of the scholarly discussion regarding the details of Milton’s theological position on these topics.” — Sixteenth Century Journal

Book Information:

This volume surveys all important and influential line-by-line commentary published between 1667 and 1970 on the impressive conclusion to Paradise Lost in books 11-12. In these last two books, Milton has taken the account of biblical history known to all his contemporaries and rendered it fresh by having the archangel Michael relate it to Adam in ways only partly suggested by the original text. In a series of visions in book 11, Michael shows Adam the results of his disobedience, and by a narration in book 12 the promise and revelation of “the greater Man” promised at the epic's beginning (1.5). Adam and Eve move from repentant sorrow to invigorated hope, with the world before them and guided by Providence.

The biblical influences on these last two books would have been instantly recognizable to Milton's original audience, but the helpful notes in this volume identify biblical references and other theological matters for modern audiences. Similarly, Milton's classical references to Homer, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Seneca, and others are located and explained, along with Milton's use of patristic, medieval, and early modern authors as well as later authors' use of Milton.

This volume will challenge the longstanding idea that the last two books of Paradise Lost are in any way inferior to the rest of the epic or unrelated to it. Besides the helpful introduction that traces the arguments over the value of the last books, the commentary to books 11 and 12 also demonstrates how many important and influential arguments about the epic are tied into these books. Successfully synthesizing a huge mass of Milton scholarship, Lares presents complex ideas clearly and succinctly.

Begun by Columbia University Press in the early 1970s, A Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John Milton presented three volumes. Now under the auspices of Duquesne University Press, an award-winning volume was published in 2009 on Samson Agonistes and the first volume on Paradise Lost in 2011. This volume by Jameela Lares represents the continuation of the project, with future volumes planned on the remaining books of Paradise Lost and Milton's English prosody as well.

The Milton Variorum project benefits from the assistance of a distinguished group of consulting editors:

Archie Burnett

W. Gardner Campbell

Claudia Champagne

Stephen B. Dobranski

Richard J. DuRocher

Cheryl H. Fresch

Edward Jones

Jameela Lares

John Mulryan

Stella P. Revard

Louis Schwartz

Author Information:

JAMEELA LARES is professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi. She specializes in Milton studies and is the author of Milton and the Preaching Arts. She has been awarded several fellowships, including the Senior Research Fellowship from the International Society for the History of Rhetoric in 2011.

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