Illustrated by John Martin
Introduced by Michael Prodger
Edited by Alastair Fowler
Commentary volume by Alastair Fowler
This fine edition unites John Milton's greatest poem with 24 mezzotints by John Martin, together with a separate commentary volume by Alastair Fowler.
In 1658 John Milton, grieving the loss of his wife, his sight, and his political hopes, set out ‘to justify the ways of God to man’. To tell the story of the angels’ Fall and Adam and Eve’s exile from Paradise was ambitious enough, but Milton went further. He forged a new style of epic blank verse in the vernacular, openly invoking the same muse who had inspired Homer and Virgil. The result was a work of poetic and psychological genius. The stern beauty of Milton’s poetry, with its stately unfolding clauses and inexorable forward movement, is without parallel.
In 1825 John Martin, best known for his dramatic paintings of biblical scenes, exhibited 20 mezzotints depicting Paradise Lost. One critic wrote, ‘We know of no artist whose genius so perfectly fitted him to be the illustrator of the mighty Milton … There is a wildness, a grandeur, and a mystery about his designs which are indescribably fine.’ Martin used mezzotint to dramatic effect, creating monumental vistas lit with a play of dark and light that echo the war at the heart of the poem.
‘One of those rare instances where a writer and artist are felicitously matched, as Ovid’s Metamorphoses were with Titian’
- Michael Prodger
Quarter-bound in buckram with blocked cloth sides
Set in Miller Text
704 pages in total
Gold gilded page tops
Pictorial slipcase printed with The Great Day of His Wrath by John Martin, 1851–3. (©Tate, London 2014)
12¾˝ × 9¾˝