[Milton-L] Regaining Paradise Regained

Dario Rivarossa dario.rivarossa at gmail.com
Thu Nov 26 04:03:40 EST 2015

John Milton's fame didn't gain much from Paradise Regained, often
considered the dumb brother of Paradise Lost. (The same fate as
Tasso's Gierusalemme Conquistata, incidentally.) Now, by rereading it
after a millennium has passed, literally, and after accumulating a bit
more of experience in the fields of literature, Renaissance, and
Bible, Paradise Regained appears, at last, as the true masterpiece it
is, starting from its 'mature' style, complex while crystal clear.

It probably depends on the reader's focus, e.g. without fixating on
the title. In fact, Christ's mission of regaining salvation for Man by
dying on the cross had already been dealt with in Paradise Lost, but
PR examines another side of the issue: the perception of Jesus'
identity in the eyes of those who met him and, especially, of himself
-- the development of his self-consciousness. An absolutely
fascinating subject, that would 'officially' emerge only in the 19th
century. From this viewpoint, the poem is among the best things ever
written in Christian literature, either fiction or theology. Not by
chance PR, as much as PL, deserved a careful study and a powerful
artistic rendition by Milton's top reader, William Blake.

Far from being 'absent,' anyway, the Cross provides the tonic note of
the whole poem, the foundation of all of Jesus' answers to Satan.
Another wonderful theme in PR is its insight into the whole of human
history in few pages. Milton cheats when he plays the one who despises
classical culture the very moment he stuffs his verse with it; and it
is thrilling to hear Jesus talk about matters so different from the
Gospel texts. A side effect of this is a new appreciation of Books 11
and 12 in PL, which disappointed many readers. Yes, here Milton is
sometimes lengthy, etc., but his keys for the Bible are not silly at
all. Paradise Regained, finally, includes some interesting hints at
Medieval and Renaissance literature.

P.S. The cover page of the Collins edition


is a recolor version of an engraving by Gustave Doré. But especially,
the picture has been turned upside down so as to have a "Messianic
tree shoot" in the forefront (Isaiah 4. 2 -- formerly a root in Dore's

il Tassista http://tassonomia.blogspot.it e http://stornielle.blogspot.it
co-artist with the Magic Trio http://tiziafra.wix.com/the-magic-trio

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