Narrative Functions of Repetition in John Milton's Paradise Regained

Author: Reich, Angela
This study of Paradise Regained uncovers iteration as an operational mode of presentation that affects reader perception. This notion falls into three categories: the active manipulation of the telling of events through time in anachronic groupings; the re-telling of stories by different characters for the sake of reader perception; and the manipulation of time in the use of prophecy. Therefore, the studies in each chapter show repetitions in both content and style, but more important is repetition in the motif of layering as the governing style.


“This slim volume makes a large contribution to the ongoing resuscitation of Paradise Regained. Despite Milton’s own high estimate of his poem’s accomplishment, Paradise Regained has always been the least loved of Milton’s major poems, steadily overshadowed by Paradise Lost and esteemed less than Samson Agonistes and even Comus or Lycidas. Until relatively recently, scholars and critics have been more likely to quarrel with the poem than appreciate it: at the nadir of its reputation, Paradise Regained has been seen as an unsuccessful conglomeration of false starts, cobbled together by the poet in some sort of response to some sort of public pressure. Happily, the last 25 years have produced a gradual accumulation of efforts to revive the short epic’s reputation and to re-assess its achievement. This study plays an important part in that re-assessment by illuminating some of the most fundamental elements of Paradise Regained’s achievement ...” – (from the Foreword) Thomas E. Maresca, Professor Emeritus, State University of New York at Stony Brook

“ ... Drawing skillfully and tactfully on the work of theorists such as Wolfgang Iser, Gerard Genette and Meike Bal, Dr. Reich has produced a thoughtful and thought-provoking reading of Milton’s ‘short epic.’ The theorists provide the frame, but the core of the work is Dr. Reich’s careful analysis of the kinds of repetition that make Paradise Regained the masterpiece that it is ... This is a work of sound scholarship and adept criticism. It is a study of repetition that is entirely new.” – Paul J. Dolan, Professor Emeritus, State University of New York at Stony Brook

“Dr. Angela Reich’s finely-focused study of the under-appreciated Paradise Regained will be welcomed by Miltonists and English Renaissance specialists, as well as by the general reader. Earlier approaches had stressed the poem’s use of traditions, the Bible, its relation to the other arts, especially the visual, and so on, but rarely its methods of telling a story ... This ground-breaking book will be used and re-used by scholars in the future ...” – Professor Clifford Huffman, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Repetition as Narrative Tool
3. Structural Analysis of Temporal Order
4. The Use of Prophecy
5. Iteration in the Three Temptations
6. Telling, Re-Telling, False-Telling and Foretelling