The middle books—5 and 6—recount the war in heaven.
Thus, we have a sort of circle, moving from Satan’s expulsion from heaven in book 1 to Adam and Eve’s removal from Eden in book 11, with the war in heaven at the core.
[Culture Club/Getty] Notwithstanding Milton’s famous promise in the opening section of the poem to “assert eternal providence / And justify the ways of God to men,” it is Satan’s poem from beginning to end.
He is the first character to speak, and he is eloquent, bold, full of feeling for others.
n 2016, during the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, the Bard was feted by dozens of books, hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, performances of his plays, lectures, and a Shakespeare Day gala attended by Prince Charles himself.
The London Tube map replaced the names of its stops with titles of Shakespeare’s plays. In 2017, it was all Jane Austen—the 200th anniversary of the novelist’s death. Last year also marked the 350th anniversary of the publication of Paradise Lost, the greatest epic poem in English and one of the greatest works of Western literature, and hardly a word was said about either the man or the work: just three books—William Poole’s Milton and the Making of Paradise Lost, John Carey’s The Essential Paradise Lost, and a collection of essays on the poet in translation—and a BBC Radio 4 documentary.
The book “demonstrates that around the world people are taking real interest in Milton,” Islam Issa, one of the volume’s editors, told the Guardian. One reason is that Paradise Lost is, well, a poem, and poems are not only more difficult to read than either prose fiction or plays, they are harder to put on a screen, the reigning medium of our day.
There have been dozens of television and film adaptations of both Shakespeare and Austen, but very few of Paradise Lost.
(A TV version produced by the British actor Martin Freeman is reportedly in the works, but if it ever gets made, don’t expect anything close to the original.
“ Paradise Lost is like a biblical Game of Thrones,” another of the producers has said.) The other reason is that Paradise Lost is an unabashedly religious work.