Looking into Paradise Lost: Rebel’s Writing Process

Now it takes two books and the Bible to explore the idea that Adam and Eve were heroes and not just responsible for everything wrong with the world. The book entitled Paradise Lost is a Norton Critical Edition, edited by Gordon Teskey. Spelling is modern, and the supporting material is designed to introduce undergraduate students to basic scholarship on Milton and the epic. I did not meet this poem until graduate school, and that with a background in theater, not English Literature. Studying it the first time was torture, so I am happy to find material for the uninitiated. When my gleanings lead to more questions, I will find more specific criticism, knowing that any insights I gain from the poem will not be new to anyone who studies Milton. Graduate students and scholarly professors have probably written tomes about Milton’s every word, but I will still use my box of crayons in the presence of masters. Why? Because it is fun.

This personal study of Paradise Lost goes against everything I ever taught about conducting research. I created the diagram below for a ninth-grade English class and often used it with my college students. It gives a general idea of my method, which is probably standard for most English teachers. For this project, I am neglecting all those steps and sharing the journey before knowing where it leads. Perhaps the blog format is more forgiving, letting writers send out small pieces of a whole in search of like-minded readers and people who ask challenging questions. At any rate, I plan to stay with this method for now. Please share your ideas, impressions, challenges, and questions. (One post on the poem itself is finally almost ready for you to see.)


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