09 January 2012

Pleasant surprises

(Yeah the lighting is lame but the cellcam was all I had)
I don't do much celebrating around the holidays. Mostly I spend time with my family and friends and buy gifts for the handful of people with whom I exchange gifts. It's a short list.

The Girl and I exchanged some gifts, but not in traditional fashion. She's not much for opening gifts on xmas morning and I'm really bad at surprises so I gave her all her gifts early.  The big surprise for me was that she gave me a copy of Paradise Lost.

She tracked down an early edition, first run* copy printed in 1742. It's in lovely condition for something that was crafted 270 years ago: bound in leather, with lovely gold leaf on the binding and woodcut illustrations throughout. It had spent most of it's life on a shelf in a (cool, properly humidified) library in France before it found its way to me.

Given the weight and history of the story the book itself is quite small - you could just about carry it around in the back pocket of your jeans on your way to the coffee shop. (If you were the type of person that read this type of book in a coffee shop.**) My first thought on picking it up was "Wow, all those words fit in here?" My second thought was "WOW, all those words FIT in here! That is so awesome!"

About 5" tall x 4" wide, and the text is tiny. Compounding the size of the text, the 's' looks more like an 'f', as in the original edition, so it's tricky to decipher at first. Also, Milton does not reward the casual reader. In other words it's plain hard to read. I don't know that I would take it with me to the beach, but I look forward to digesting it at my leisure. Modernized text and punctuation? Only after I've had a chance to struggle (again) through the close-to-original version.

A lot happens in the story so any attempt to summarize here is woefully inadequate. Also, it can be (and has been) interpreted myriad ways. You can read it and decide for yourself. But you can't borrow my copy. You can read an annotated edition on the interweb for free, which is a pretty sweet deal.

If you need a refresher on Book 2, lines 433/34 I've got you covered. Just let me know.

Paradise Lost, Book 2, Line 433/34

* 'First run' means that it is the first printing of that particular edition.
** If you are that type of person I think you win at the hipster and pretentiousness olympics. I would say that I hate you but I'm probably just jealous.


Sweet Katie said...

How awesome is that? One of the coolest presents ever!

Anonymous said...