|His Don Quixote is still influential today, and his collaboration with journalist Blanchard Jerrold documenting London, poverty and all, impressed Vincent van Gogh. Doré never married. He lived with his mother until his death in 1883 and was working on new illustrations for Shakespeare until the end.
John Milton was born in England in 1608, a poet and civil servant who lived through civil war and religious upheavals. He married three times, outlived two of his wives, and outlived two of his five children. Described by biographer Samuel Johnson as “acrimonious and surly”, Milton was not shy with his opinions, even though his first works were published anonymously. Areopagitica, which does have his name on it, is a condemnation of censorship and is recognized as one of the most historically influential defenses of both freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
But his magnum opus is the passionate and cerebral Paradise Lost, an epic poem written in blank verse (with regular metrical but unrhymed lines). The first version, published in 1667, consists of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse. The second edition, with minor revisions, is done in twelve books.
The poem tells of the Fall of Man, with Satan being cast out of Heaven, his subsequent temptation of Adam and Eve, and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Its morally ambiguous interpretation of the fallen angel, and its depiction Adam as a knowing participant in his own downfall, (choosing to eat the apple of knowledge so he can remain with his already condemned love, Eve) made Paradise Lost controversial. And, recognized as one of the greatest works of English literature of all time.
Need a vintage Epic of your own? Visit QBO.