WithHarry Blamires
Pages 4

In escorting the reader through Paradise Lost, I have tried to answer the needs of the student who wants a bird’s-eye view of the poem as a whole and also of the student who wants detailed help wherever the text is loaded or difficult. He is generally one and the same reader. He wants to look closely at what are the richest and most crucial passages, and not to miss any of their subtleties; he also wants to get a grasp of their place in the work as a whole. My guide is designed to meet both of these requirements. To do this task of guidance well I believe a writer has to escape the idiosyncracies of his own personal style and to some extent sacrifice the character of his feel for words to that of the writer he is dealing with. A choicely worded paraphrase is not necessarily the same thing as an elucidation which follows the original writer’s sentences closely enough to disentangle and clarify them at a glance. Where the text requires it, line-by-line interpretation is provided here, which of itself reveals the shape of Milton’s syntactical complexities and matches his difficult words with modern equivalents.