I have read Paradise Lost probably 12 times in full and many more excerpted or partial readings. May I make some suggestions for making it easier to understand?<br><br>--Use a good annotated edition. The best online one is the Milton Reading Room at Dartmouth College. This has the text in one frame, with interactive links to notes in another. Some of the notes in turn have links to other sites: art, music, astronomy, reference works. Unless you are steeped in Latin and Greek literature and the Bible, may of Milton's allusions will go right by you. It's fun to learn about them, however, and if you persevere you'll have a much greater scope of general knowledge. In print editions, the most recent comprehensive one is the Riverside Milton, edited by Roy Flannagan. Several generations of students relied on the edition of Merritt Hughes. If you don't need notes, the Oxford Milton is wonderful: very readable layout and type, and it preserves Milton's spelling and punctuation. The editor, Helen Darbishire, has a fine essay on this which shows how Milton devised many helps for the reader. Nice big margins to write in too. Don't skimp by getting a cheap paperback Milton: it's not read-once, throwaway literature, but a work you'll return to many times.<br><br>--Read it aloud. Many college English departments hold marathon readings of PL. I was privileged to hear and participate in one this spring, and it was a profound experience. I prepared by studying about 250 lines a day for about six weeks beforehand. I marked the beginning and end of the characters' speeches, and worked out the proper scansion of tricky lines. Always before, it had seemed very cerebral and silent, but reading and hearing it read brought out many aspects of sound and sight imagery that I'd never caught before. <br><br>--Enjoy it! Don't go into it thinking this is cultural codliver oil: good for you but repulsive. It is very enjoyable, even funny in places, and always thought-provoking. For example, in my preparation for the marathon, it happened that I was in Book II around March 10 and the arguments for and against "open war" or "soft ease" really resonated with the issues of the day. <br><br>--Remember that Milton read and wrote in Latin, Greek, French, and Italian as well as English. He was accustomed to Latin sentence structure, where in certain construction one word (usually a participle) has to be expressed by a whole clause or phrase in English. This meant that he wrote periodic sentences with a lot of dependent clauses--sentences that would make our computer style checkers simply go bonkers! So it's useful to look at whole sentences. Find the subject, verb, object and indirect object. These are the skeleton of any sentence, and once you have a clear grasp of what these are it is easier to see how the adjectives and adverbs, prepositional phrases, and secondary dependent clauses all relate. Fortunately Milton was very consistent and accurate in his punctuation and observed the rules of grammar, logic and rhetoric where many contemporaries did not.<br><br>--If PL is too much, warm up by reading "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso," or maybe "Lycidas" and the Nativity Ode. These are shorter but will give you a good insight into Milton's style and some of his themes. "Samson Agonistes" is longer, but it is a real play after the manner of the Greek tragedians and it also deals with many PL issues.<br><br>--Webmaster: if possible, change your "chapter" designators to "Book." The twelve "Books" of PL are definitely Books and should be so designated, though you can probably get by with Arabic rather than Roman numerals!<br><br>I hope this helps. Please email me if I can help you will fuller explanations of the points above. I love this poetry and love to help others appreciate it too.