Paradise Lost and the Seventeenth Century Reader by Balachandra Rajan
Mr. Rajan's book is primarily concerned with the correct setting of "Paradise Lost" in its contemporary context, so that the modern reader can more fully appreciate the general conception of the poem and the ideas implicit in it. He begins by surveying in his Introduction the whole field of Miltonic scholarship, and goes on to compare "Paradise Lost" with Milton's prose treatise, the "De Doctrina Christiana". The major part of the book relates the poem to the accepted conventions of Seventeenth-century thought, in particular to the belief in order, degree and harmony as ruling forces of the universe, and provides a critical analysis of its structure and symmetry. Mr. Rajan puts forward a new theory about Books XI and XII, in which he argues that Milton assumed a prevailing background of assent to pessimism. In this last chapters he discusses the problem of Satan and the manner in which Milton solved the difficulties of an epic style.
Chatto & Windus, 1966.
Hardcover. Very good in a very good jacket.