Why is Paradise Lost considered to be a classic?

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One thing that defines a piece of literature as a classic is its influence on other writers. Paradise Lost has had that kind of lasting influence on such writers as William Blake, Mary Shelley, and C. S. Lewis. One critic has noted that

More than any other literary forebear, John Milton's Paradise Lost stands as a continuing intellectual and mythic reference point for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. (see the Univ. of Penn. link below)

To many people during the 18th and 19th centuries, Paradise Lost was almost as important to have as the Bible. The Norton Anthology of English Literature states that "Paradise Lost was often one of the very few books found in British and American households."

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