PARADISE LOSTParadise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton (1608-1674). The first version, published in 1667, consisted of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse. A second edition followed in 1674, arranged into twelve books (in the manner of Virgil's Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification. It is considered by critics to be Milton's major work, and it helped solidify his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of his time.The poem concerns the biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton's purpose, stated in Book I, is to "justify the ways of God to men".In his introduction to the Penguin edition of Paradise Lost, the Milton scholar John Leonard notes, "John Milton was nearly sixty when he published Paradise Lost in 1667. [The writer] John Aubrey (1626-97) tells us that the poem was begun in about 1658 and finished in about 1663. But parts were almost certainly written earlier, and its roots lie in Milton's earliest youth." Leonard speculates that the English Civil War interrupted Milton's earliest attempts to start his "epic [poem] that would encompass all space and time."Leonard also notes that Milton "did not at first plan to write a biblical epic." Since epics were typically written about heroic kings and queens (and with pagan gods), Milton originally envisioned his epic to be based on a legendary Saxon or British king like the legend of King Arthur. In the 1667 version of Paradise Lost, the poem was divided into ten books. However, in the 1672 edition, Paradise Lost contained twelve books.Having gone totally blind in 1652, Milton wrote Paradise Lost entirely through dictation with the help of amanuenses and friends. He also wrote the epic poem while he was often ill, suffering from gout, and despite the fact that he was suffering emotionally after the early death of his second wife, Katherine Woodcock, in 1658, and the death of their infant daughter (though Milton remarried soon after in 1663).JOHN MILTONJohn Milton (9 December 1608 - 8 November 1674) was an English poet, polemicist, man of letters, and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost(1667), written in blank verse.Milton's poetry and prose reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the urgent issues and political turbulence of his day. Writing in English, Latin, Greek, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime, and his celebrated Areopagitica (1644), written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship, is among history's most influential and impassioned defences of free speech and freedom of the press.William Hayley's 1796 biography called him the "greatest English author", and he remains generally regarded "as one of the preeminent writers in the English language", though critical reception has oscillated in the centuries since his death (often on account of his republicanism). Samuel Johnson praised Paradise Lost as "a poem which...with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance, the second, among the productions of the human mind", though he (a Tory and recipient of royal patronage) described Milton's politics as those of an "acrimonious and surly republican".