Preface to Paradise Lost

Preface to Paradise Lost

by C. S. Lewis
Publisher: HarperCollins
Hardcover, 180 pages
Price: $23.99

C. S. Lewis’s illuminating reflections on Milton’s Paradise Lost, the seminal classic that profoundly influenced Christian thought as well as Lewis’s own.

In A Preface to Paradise Lost, the Christian apologist and revered scholar and professor of literature closely examines the style, content, structure, and themes of Milton’s masterpiece, a retelling of the biblical story of the Fall of Humankind, Satan’s temptation, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Considering the story within the context of the Western literary tradition, Lewis offers invaluable insights into Paradise Lost and the nature of literature itself, unveiling the poem’s beauty and its wisdom.

Lewis explains and defends the literary form known as “Epic,” pondering simple yet perceptive questions such as: What is an Epic? Why, in the seventeenth century, did Milton choose to write his story in this style? In what sense is Paradise Lost similar to the Homeric poems or the Anglo Saxon Beowulf? In what sense did Milton develop Virgil’s legacy?

With the clarity of thought and style that are the hallmarks of his writing, Lewis provides answers with a lucidity and lightness that deepens our understanding of this literary form and both illuminates Milton’s immortal epic and its meaning and inspires readers to revisit it. Ultimately, he reminds us why elements including ritual, splendor, and joy deserve to exist and hold a sacred place in human life.

One of Lewis’s most revered scholarly works, A Preface to Paradise Lost is indispensable for literature, philosophy, and religion scholars and for ardent fans of Lewis’s writings.


  1. Epic Poetry
  2. Is Criticism Possible?
  3. Primary Epic
  4. The Technique of Primary Epic
  5. The Subject of Primary Epic
  6. Virgil and the Subject of Secondary Epic
  7. The Style of Secondary Epic
  8. Defence of This Style
  9. The Doctrine of the Unchanging Human Heart
  10. Milton and St. Augustine
  11. Hierarchy
  12. The Theology of Paradise Lost
  13. Satan
  14. Satan's Followers
  15. The Mistake About Milton's Angels
  16. Adam and Eve
  17. Unfallen Sexuality
  18. The Fall
  19. Conclusion


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