ABOUT THIS BOOK
In 1967 the world of Milton studies was divided into two armed camps: one proclaiming (in the tradition of Blake and Shelley) that Milton was of the devil's party with or without knowing it, the other proclaiming (in the tradition of Addison and C. S. Lewis) that the poet's sympathies are obviously with God and the angels loyal to him.
The achievement of Stanley Fish's Surprised by Sin was to reconcile the two camps by subsuming their claims in a single overarching thesis: Paradise Lost is a poem about how its readers came to be the way they are--that is, fallen--and the poem's lesson is proven on a reader's impulse every time he or she finds a devilish action attractive or a godly action dismaying.
Fish's argument reshaped the face of Milton studies; thirty years later the issues raised in Surprised by Sin continue to set the agenda and drive debate.
Thirty years after its original publication. Surprised by Sin remains the one indispensable book on Milton. This dazzling, high-stakes work of mind taught a generation of readers how to read anew. And, lest we thought its rigorous injunctions had been dulled or blandly assimilated by the intervening years, Fish dares us, in a formidable new preface, to think again.
-- Linda Gregerson, University of Michigan
Thirty years ago, Surprised by Sin initiated the modern age in Milton criticism. Still the one book necessarily engaged by Milton scholars, it continues to provoke, irritate, and illuminate. Reissued now, with a substantial new preface, it clarifies in fascinating ways not only the course of Milton studies but also the continuing career of its controversial author.
-- Marshall Grossman, University of Maryland at College Park
The first edition of Surprised by Sin revised the critical landscape of Milton studies more significantly and more influentially than any other analysis of Paradise Lost in modern history. The second edition contains a substantial preface, not only an apologia but also a brilliant critical manifesto in its own right. Fish thereby affirms the validity, preeminence, and timeliness of his "great argument," which will continue to inform critical debates unremittingly in the future.
-- Albert C. Labriola, Duquesne University