Yes, Paradise Lost is still read today. It is the progenitor of the fantasy and science-fiction tradition through the epic tale it tells of the founding Judeo-Christian myth. Tolkien and Lewis, Ursula Le Guin, George RR Martin and the rest are the aftermath. But there is a good chance that Carey's new edition will lead even more readers to its splendours, to wonder at its tragic action, epic music and transcendent strangeness.
‘In his work,’ Dworkin writes of Abe, ‘sexual intercourse is a metaphor for the human condition.’ In The Frontier Within, we catch a glimpse of the condition as Abe sees it, without the metaphor. Just as in the sex lives of Abe’s protagonists the ultimate goal of dissolution eludes them, so too in Abe’s non-fiction there is a plangent note of frustration.
There is more driving this project than mere biographical voyeurism. In the same way that The Lost Life dramatises and elaborates 'Burnt Norton’, the first poem in Eliot’s Four Quartets (1943), A World of Other People dramatises the last, ‘Little Gidding’... a literary landmark looming from the war-time rubble of the London it transfigures so keenly.