a-preface-to-paradise-lost-400x400-cslewisThe older poetry, by continually insisting on certain Stock themes–as that love is sweet, death bitter, virtue lovely, and children or gardens delightful–was performing a service not only of moral and civil, but even of biological, importance. Once again, the old critics were quite right when they said that poetry “instructed by delighting,” for poetry was formerly one of the chief means whereby each new generation learned, not to copy, but by copying to make, the good Stock responses. Since poetry has abandoned that office the world has not bettered. While the moderns have been pressing forward to conquer new territories of consciousness, the old territory, in which alone a man can live, has been left unguarded, and we are in danger of finding the enemy in our rear. We need most urgently to recover the lost poetic art of enriching a response without making it eccentric, and of being normal without being vulgar. Meanwhile–until that recovery is made–such poetry as Milton’s is more than ever necessary to us.

Reading John Milton‘s Paradise Lost has been a delight and C. S. Lewis is one of my favorites. In this “Preface” (a series of lectures), Lewis illuminates the entire genre of epic poetry.  Even Ayn Rand recognized the beauty of poetry and art to inspire and elevate to new heights.
What have been your experiences with art and poetry?
In what way do you value art and poetry? Why?
I would love to hear your recommendations.

 

On Goodreads.com

Preface to Paradise Lost
by C. S. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347999313l/207546.jpgThe sixth chapter is entitled “Virgil and the Subject of Secondary Epic.” After arguing that Homer’s subject is not what makes an epic, Lewis seems to say that Virgil’s subject rescues the Aeneid from obscurity when he builds so much depth and substance around his characters and events that we feel as if national, or even cosmic, issues are at stake.

You can find more reviews and discussions of this and many other books on Goodreads.com (including my own reviews and comments about this and other books). It’s one of my favorite sites to help me organize my own reading and keep up with others. When you’re on Goodreads, please visit my author page and “Like” The Soul of Atlas. Consider writing a review and sharing it with your friends on Goodreads and Facebook.com.

 

C. S. Lewis
Preface to Paradise Lost (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), 57

For the New Intellectual by Ayn Rand: a great place to start!

I’m often asked by people who are interested in The Soul of Atlas, “Do I need to read Atlas Shrugged before I read your book?” The answer, I think, is “No.” But there’s a caveat. If you’re unfamiliar with Ayn Rand and you’re curious, I recommend her shorter work For the New Intellectual. Description This […]

Paradise Lost by John Milton (Penguin)

In Paradise Lost, Milton produced a poem of epic scale, conjuring up a vast, awe-inspiring cosmos and ranging across huge tracts of space and time. And yet, in putting a charismatic Satan and naked Adam and Eve at the center of this story, he also created an intensely human tragedy on the Fall of Man.

John Leonard’s revised edition of Paradise Lost contains full notes, elucidating Milton’s biblical, classical and historical allusions and discussing his vivid, highly original use of language and blank verse.

From the Publisher

This is the first fully-annotated, old-spelling edition of Paradise Lost to be published in this century. It surveys in its introduction and incorporates in its notes the large amount of criticism published between 1965 and the present–not to mention the criticism that began with Dryden, Addison, Samuel Johnson, and William Blake–and it reflects critical perspectives from New Criticism to Deconstruction, from Philology to New Historicism and Feminism. On the page, the book combines the look and feel of original editions with the convenience of wide margins and thorough annotation.

From AudioFile

Edith Hamilton retells the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths with a sure taste and scholarship that help to restore their quality as perennial and refreshing fables about human nature, including our own.

About the Author

John Milton was born in London on December 9, 1608, and studied at the University of Cambridge. He originally planned to become a clergyman, but abandoned those ambitions to become a poet. Political in his writings, he served a government post during the time of the Commonwealth. In 1651, he went completely blind but he continued to write, finishing Paradise Lost in 1667, and Paradise Regained in 1671. He died in 1674.

On Goodreads.com

Paradise Lost
by John Milton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paradise-Lost-Kerrigan.jpgMilton is a brilliant genius. He does no injustice to the biblical text, but he does color it nicely. He draws in the reader who may not otherwise be drawn in to the sacred text and he inspired me to nurture the longing in my soul for God. I found Paradise Lost to be rich with imagery and imagination. I am challenged by his many references to Greek mythology, science, and his far-reaching view of the world. A couple of highlights for me: 1) scenes of the angels worshiping God in Book III, 2) the description of the Son volunteering to rescue the future, yet to be created race through his own sacrifice [Book VII], 3) Milton’s description of the Son descending to vanquish Satan from Heaven, and 4) descriptions of innocence. I appreciated Milton’s portrayal of Satan, but I don’t see Satan as a tragic hero, as that would aggrandize him more than Milton intended IMHO. I recommend Paradise Lost to any serious reader of literature.

Flat-Fleuron

You can find more reviews and discussions of this and many other books on Goodreads.com (including my own reviews and comments about this and other books). It’s one of my favorite sites to help me organize my own reading and keep up with others. When you’re on Goodreads, please visit my author page and “Like” The Soul of Atlas. Consider writing a review and sharing it with your friends on Goodreads and Facebook.com.

 

You are what you read? Or are you?

It’s debatable whether you are what you read, but it’s certainly true that what I read influences my writing style. A recent blog by Scott McKnight entitled Tips for Writers speaks to that point. Have you ever asked the question, “Who do I want to sound like?” Of course, the best answer is “be yourself,” […]

Is there a perfect audience for The Soul of Atlas?

The Soul of Atlas is addressed to three distinct audiences: two explicit and one implicit. The explicit audiences are Objectivists, or admirers of Ayn Rand and Christians; the implicit is the listener, the “fly on the wall.” (Not that I think of any reader as a fly; it’s a metaphor.) There is also a sense of […]

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes (Little, Brown, and Company, 1942)

josephine-angelini-photo-edith-hamiltonSince its original publication by Little, Brown and Company in 1942, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology has sold millions of copies throughout the world and established itself as a perennial bestseller in its various available formats: hardcover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, and e-book. Mythology succeeds like no other book in bringing to life for the modern reader the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths and legends that are the keystone of Western culture – the stories of gods and heroes that have inspired human creativity from antiquity to the present.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Edith Hamilton loved the ancient Western myths with a passion–and this classic compendium is her tribute. “The tales of Greek mythology do not throw any clear light upon what early mankind was like,” Hamilton explains in her introduction. “They do throw an abundance of light upon what early Greeks were like–a matter, it would seem, of more importance to us, who are their descendents intellectually, artistically, and politically. Nothing we learn about them is alien to ourselves.” Fans of Greek mythology will find all the great stories and characters here–Perseus, Hercules, and Odysseus–each discussed in generous detail by the voice of an impressively knowledgeable and engaging (with occasional lapses) narrator. This is also an excellent primer for middle- and high-school students who are studying ancient Greek and Roman culture and literature. –Gail Hudson

The New Yorker

Edith Hamilton retells the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths with a sure taste and scholarship that help to restore their quality as perennial and refreshing fables about human nature, including our own.

The New York Times

No one in modern times has shown us more vividly than Edith Hamilton ‘the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome.’ Filtering the golden essence from the mass of classical literature, she proved how applicable to our daily lives are the humor and wisdom of more than 2,000 years ago.

About the Author

Edith Hamilton, an educator, writer and a historian, was born August 12, 1867 in Dresden, Germany, of American parents and grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her father began teaching her Latin when she was seven years old and soon added Greek, French, and German to her curriculum. Hamilton’s education continued at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, and at Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from which she graduated in 1894 with an M.A. degree. The following year, she and her sister Alice went to Germany and were the first women students at the universities of Munich and Leipzich.
Hamilton returned to the United States in 1896 and accepted the position of headmistress of the Bryn Mawr Preparatory School in Baltimore, Maryland. For the next twenty-six years, she directed the education of about four hundred girls per year. After her retirement in 1922, she started writing and publishing scholarly articles on Greek drama. In 1930, when she was sixty-three years old, she published The Greek Way, in which she presented parallels between life in ancient Greece and in modern times. The book was a critical and popular success. In 1932, she published The Roman Way, which was also very successful. These were followed by The Prophets of Israel (1936), Witness to the Truth: Christ and His Interpreters (1949), Three Greek Plays, translations of Aeschylus and Euripides (1937), Mythology (1942), The Great Age of Greek Literature (1943), Spokesmen for God (1949) and Echo of Greece (1957). Hamilton traveled to Greece in 1957 to be made an honorary citizen of Athens and to see a performance in front of the Acropolis of one of her translations of Greek plays. She was ninety years old at the time. At home, Hamilton was a recipient of many honorary degrees and awards, including election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Edith Hamilton died on May 31, 1963 in Washington, D.C.

On Goodreads.com

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes
by Edith Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have never read, or even seen, a book quite so straightforward, compact, and simply written that brings together the mythology of the ancient Greeks and Romans (even a little Norse mythology thrown in).

I picked up this book for some beach reading. (I imagine that sounds strange, but I don’t read novels very often.) As I expected, it was dry in parts and entertaining in other parts. Overall, I can’t imagine getting a better introduction to the subject. I feel much better prepared to read the original writers, having some context and overall perspective.

My other goal was to become a better reader and writer. Hamilton’s style is simple and friendly without embellishment. I’m glad because this book could otherwise have been twice the size. I was interested in the content, to plant the seeds of myth and literary allusion that I hope to include in my own writing and to recognize in what I read.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in an overview of Greek and Roman mythology. It’s very well organized and easy to navigate. I read it straight through, but it would also be a great reference on the subject. The index is exhaustive and helpful.

Flat-Fleuron

You can find more reviews and discussions of this and many other books on Goodreads.com (including my own reviews and comments about this and other books). It’s one of my favorite sites to help me organize my own reading and keep up with others. When you’re on Goodreads, please visit my author page and “Like” The Soul of Atlas. Consider writing a review and sharing it with your friends on Goodreads and Facebook.com.

 

Jesus draws us into a pervasive awareness of Spirit, training us as “detectives of divinity” to interpret the signs and understand the sayings as evidence of the unseen yet unmistakable presence of God. We learn to recognize the glory.

Eugene Peterson
Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005), 108