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A Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John Milton

Volume 5, Part 8 (<i>Paradise Lost,</i> Books 11–12)

by Jameela Lares; edited by P. J. Klemp

Publication Year: 2012

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.

Published by: Duquesne University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii

Abbreviations of Milton’s Writings

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

A Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John Milton has been a work in progress for over half a century. Another step in bringing closure to that monumental work, this volume on books 11–12 of Paradise Lost, like the volumes on book 4 and on Samson Agonistes published by Duquesne University Press in 2009, is a tangible sign of the scholarly...

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pp. xvii-xx

I am deeply grateful to those scholars who involved or sustained me in this project. The late John M. Steadman, former editor for both Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes, and always supportive of my scholarship, very kindly recommended me as the contributing editor for this volume, and general editor Albert C. Labriola very firmly insisted...

A Note on the Annotations

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pp. xxi

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Commentary: Introductory Note

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pp. 1-8

Critical discussions of books 11 and 12 of Paradise Lost often focus on the entwined questions of whether the final two books are artistically equal to the preceding ten and what the books represent in themes, structures, or genres. Neoclassical critics initially complained that the ending was not happy enough for an epic, whereas some early twentieth century...

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Book 11

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pp. 9-198

The Argument: The second edition of 1674, which divided the original book 10 into books 11 and 12, also divided the original 1668 Argument between the two new books. He makes intercession: cf. DocCh 1.15, which specifies Christ’s intercession as, first, appearing on humanity’s behalf before God and, second, “rendering our prayers agreeable to God”...

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Book 12

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pp. 199-348

The Argument. The original Argument from book 10 was divided between the two new books 11 and 12, and the 1668 phrase . . . Flood; thence from the Flood relates, and by degrees explains, who becomes 1672 [book 11] . . . Flood. [book 12] The Angel Michael continues from the Flood to relate what shall succeed; then, in the mention of Abraham...

Works Cited

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pp. 349-374


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pp. 375-393

E-ISBN-13: 9780820705828
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820704463

Page Count: 416
Publication Year: 2012

Volume Title: A Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John Milton