Paradise Lost. A Poem in Ten Books.
The Author / John Milton.
London: Printed by S. Simmons, and to be sold by S. Thomson at the Bishops-Head in Duck-lane, H. Mortlack at the White Hart in Westminster Hall, M. Walker under St. Dunstans Church in Fleet-street, and R. Boulter at the Turks-Head in Bishopsgate street.
Gift of Dr. Karl Vogel, 1957
This 1668 reissue was the first to include Milton's synopsis of each book ("the Arguments" of Books 1–10), his defense of "the Verse," and a list of errata, adding sixteen pages of preliminary matter to the book. Simmons's note to the reader states that he had procured this explanation from Milton because readers of the poem had "stumbled" on first encountering it, asking "why the Poem Rimes not." Milton's strident defense of blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) is printed in large type that fills two pages. His chosen meter, although no longer fashionable by 1667, was the dominant mode of Shakespeare's plays and is the closest to the natural rhythms of English speech. Samuel Johnson later commented sarcastically that, "finding blank verse easier than rhyme, [Milton] was desirous of persuading himself that it is better."
To celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of John Milton (1608–1674), The Morgan Library & Museum is pleased to present the only surviving manuscript of Paradise Lost, Book 1. This epic poem is considered Milton's greatest artistic achievement and one of the finest works of the human imagination. Acquired by Pierpont Morgan in 1904, it is the most important British literary manuscript in the collection. The 33-page manuscript has been temporarily disbound, providing an opportunity to see more of its pages than ever before. Also in this presentation are first editions of Paradise Lost printed in England and the United States during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and a rarely seen miniature portrait of the poet.
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr.
Photography by Graham Haber.