By (author) Peter Ackroyd
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Blake by Peter Ackroyd
Book DescriptionPoet, painter, engraver and visionary, Blake's was a radical spirit fired by genius. Yet his life has remained an enigma. In this magnificent biography Peter Ackroyd discloses the true nature of William Blake's life and art.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780749391768
(198mm x 129mm x 31mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Jan-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Peter Ackroyd
Rebellion: The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution, Paperback / softback (September 2015)» View all books by Peter Ackroyd
"The depth and scope of Ackroyd's account is impressive, and it is as accessible as it is rich." Publishers Weekly"
UK Kirkus Review » 'A perpetual pilgrimage within time towards eternity', is how Peter Ackroyd describes the life of William Blake in this masterly biography. A genius whose apocalyptic visions started in a childhood dominated by Bible reading in a family of dissenters, William was brought up in a noisy, grimy London where the plight of the poor stirred his heart against the forces of social oppression. The French Revolution excited him; he was tried for sedition during the Napoleonic Wars. His brilliance was acknowledged by his peers; Fuseli, John Varley and Samuel Palmer were among his close friends, but he was always poor and permanently at odds with the artistic establishment led by Sir Joshua Reynolds. In a work that illuminates our understanding of Blake as poet, artist and human being, and recreates contemporary London in glittering prose, Ackroyd portrays a tender hearted visionary whose masterpieces were as neglected during his lifetime as they are celebrated today. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » Ackroyd's biography of William Blake represents an achievement of composite method fully in the poet's own spirit - it's a work so sensitive to its subject, it seems to have conjured him from the beyond. Scholar, workaday artisan, mystic, and social critic, Blake (1757-1827) excelled at poetry, engraving, and painting. Yet rather than spread his multifacteed genius through diverse pursuits, Blake concentrated it into his homemade books - famous now, but noted in his day only as oddities. For these sui generis productions, Blake printed pages where script and illustration flow side by side: now commenting on this world, now offering visions of others. Novelist and biographer Ackroyd (The Trial of Elizabeth Cree, 1995; Dickens, 1991; etc.) again shows himself to be an adept literary critic and historian: His explications of many of Blake's works, from widely known lyrics like "The Tyger" to hermetic epics like "The Four Zoas," unfold into detailed panoramas of England as Blake knew it. He captures the difficulties that the radical Blake faced in squaring his art training at the prestigious Royal Academy with his humble artisanal background. The blunt, "gothic," outline forms of Raphael and Durer, out of fashion at the time, provided Blake with an alternative tradition with which to affiliate himself; such contemporaries as John Flaxman and Henry Fuseli provided moral support. Above all, Ackroyd stresses Blake's intimate relation to his London environs and to the crises of war and industrialization that beset Britain during his life. While he argues that Blake was often caught up in hallucinatory waking visions, Ackroyd weighs against any diagnosis of mental illness the justice of Blake's claim that he was gifted to see through and beyond the insane upheavals of his times. Not the least part of Ackroyd's accomplishment is to have limited himself to 416 pages - enough, and (to paraphrase Blake), assuredly not too much. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd is an award-winning historian, biographer, novelist, poet and broadcaster. He is the author of the acclaimed non-fiction bestsellers London: The Biography, Thames: Sacred River and London Under; biographies of figures including Charles Dickens, William Blake, Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock; and a multi-volume history of England. He has won the Whitbread Biography Award, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the South Bank Prize for Literature. He holds a CBE for services to literature.
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