Paradise Lost. A Poem in Twelve Books. [bound with] Paradise Regain'd. A Poem in IV Books.
London: Printed by Miles Flesher for Jacob Tonson [and] by R.E for Randal Taylor, 1688.
London: Printed by Miles Flesher for Jacob Tonson [and] by R.E for Randal Taylor, 1688. Fourth edition of Paradise Lost (3rd of Regain'd), first illustrated and first folio edition. Two volumes bound in one, a large paper copy. Folio (pages measure: 375 x 234 mm), collating: , 343, ; , 66. Complete with a frontispiece portrait of Milton and 12 plates, mainly by J B Medina in Paradise Lost. No plates produced for Paradise Regain'd, bound without Samson Agonistes (despite mention of it on the title page to the second volume). Contemporary English speckled calf; rebacked with original morocco spine label preserved. Original plain end papers. A small ownership stamp on the title page, otherwise without writing or marks. A few faint marginal dampstains and areas of soiling or foxing, but on the whole an excellent copy internally.
The first illustrated edition of Paradise Lost with a full page engraving at the beginning of each of the twelve books. The 1688 Milton was also one of the earliest examples of a subscription edition in England (together with the Shakespeare Second Folio), the copyright jointly owned by Jacob Tonson and Richard Bentley. It is scarce to find bound with Paradise Regain'd since it was done by a different printer.
Milton’s magisterial epic, considered one of the finest works in the English language. According to Samuel Johnson Paradise Lost was "…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.” Milton was in his late fifties – and blind – when the book was composed and so wrote the work almost entirely through dictation. He worked through incredible hardship, coping with the physical illness, gout, as well as the death of his young daughter and wife. Interestingly enough, Milton did not intend at first to write a poem about Satan and the creation of man but rather about King Arthur.
Despite its genius, the book did not become immediately popular until the 1688 edition. It was the first edition that was accompanied by illustrations and one of the earliest copies of a book to be sold by subscription. Most of the plates were by John Baptist Medina, and the ones depicting Satan surveying his kingdom and the rebel angels in his court are particularly vivid and notable.
ESTC R15589; Coleridge 93b; Pforzheimer 720. (Item #5500)