Paradise Lost in Popular Culture - in Literature

In Literature

  • Much of the mystic poetry of William Blake is a direct response to or rewriting of Paradise Lost. Blake emphasized the rebellious, satanic elements of the epic; the repressive character Urizen in the Four Zoas is a tyrannical version of Milton's God. In addition to his famous quip in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell about Milton belonging to the devil's party, Blake wrote Milton: a Poem which has Milton, like Satan, rejecting a life in Heaven.
  • Paradise Lost influenced Mary Shelley when she wrote her novel Frankenstein, in the 1810s; she included a quotation from book X on the title page, and it is one of three books Dr. Frankenstein's monster finds which influences his psychological growth.
  • Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley specifically notes in the preface to his lyrical drama Prometheus Unbound that he constructed his character Prometheus in part as an attempt to revise Milton's Satan.
  • In his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie adapts major motifs and plot elements from Paradise Lost, such as a "fall" and subsequent transformation.
  • The epic was also one of the prime inspirations for Philip Pullman's trilogy of novels His Dark Materials (itself a quotation from Book II of Paradise Lost). In Pullman's introduction, he modifies Blake's line to quip that he himself "is of the Devil's party and does know it."
  • Libba Bray uses a quote from Paradise Lost to name the second book of her trilogy, Rebel Angels quoting from it "To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav'n."
  • In his Sandman comics/graphic novels series, Neil Gaiman uses Lucifer as a character, most notably in the Season of Mists arc/collection, and makes reference to the poem, having Lucifer openly quote Milton.
  • In 1994, American author Joseph Lanzara wrote Paradise Lost: The Novel based upon the epic poem.

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