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Painting the Word: Christian Pictures and Their Meaningsby John Drury
Synopses & Reviews
Though he never published any of his English poems during his lifetime, George Herbert (1593and#150;1633) is recognized as possibly the greatest religious poet in the language. Few English poets of his age still inspire such intense devotion today. In this richly perceptive biography, John Drury for the first time integrates Herbertand#8217;s poems fully into his life, enriching our understanding of both the poetand#8217;s mind and his work.
As Drury writes in his preface, Herbert lived and#147;a quiet life with a crisis in the middle of it.and#8221; Drury follows Herbert from his academic success as a young man, seemingly destined for a career at court, through his abandonment of those hopes, his devotion to the restoration of a church in Huntingdonshire, and his final years as a country parson. Because Herbertand#8217;s work was only published posthumously, it has always been difficult to know when or in what context Herbert wrote his poems. But Drury skillfully places readings of the poems into his narrative at biographically credible moments, allowing us to appreciate not only Herbertand#8217;s frame of mind while writing, but also the society that produced it. A sensitive critic of Herbertand#8217;s poems as well as a theologian, Drury does full justice to the spiritual dimension of Herbertand#8217;s work. In addition, he reveals the occasions of sorrow, happiness, regret, and hope that Herbert captured in his poetry and that led T. S. Eliot to write, and#147;What we can confidently believe is that every poem . . . is true to the poetand#8217;s experience.and#8221;
Painting a picture of a man torn between worldly ambition and spiritual life,and#160;Music at Midnightand#160;is an eloquent biography that breathes new life into some of the greatest English poems ever written.
Drury looks at religious paintings through the ages and presents them as works filled with passion, stories and meaning. He views the whole picture, its composition, colour, figures, even architecture, examining how they speak to audiences across time and space allowing us to respond at a more imaginative, empathetic level.
George Herbert (1593-1633) was one of the great English poets and possibly the greatest religious poet in the language. He still inspires intense admiration, and his verse is available in many editions and countless anthologies. Herbertand#8217;s poems naturally inspire curiosity about his life, and the first biography of Herbert (by Isaak Walton) appeared as early as 1670. Yet no biography of Herbert is currently in print. John Druryand#8217;s and#147;Music at Midnightand#8221; will take its place as the best biography of Herbert ever written, and one of the best biographies of a Renaissance poet. As a churchman himself, Drury does full justice to the spiritual dimension of Herbertand#8217;s work. In accessible and elegant prose, Drury tells the story of Herbertand#8217;s life, times, and literary achievement. None of Herbertand#8217;s English poems were published in his lifetime, and it is impossible to know what he wrote when. Drury finesses this problem by placing his readings of the poems into his narrative at biographically credible moments. It is an effective strategy that makes a truly satisfying book for the reader; when we read the poetry in a plausible biographical context it means even more than it did before.
In this beautifully written book John Drury brings his knowledge and experience as both priest and biblical scholar to Christian paintings and presents them to us afresh. He shows how the images in works by artists from Duccio to Velazquez have a universal quality that fills them with passion, stories, and meaning, not only for audiences of the past but also for viewers today.
In this beautifully written book, Drury, an Anglican priest and theologian, looks at religious paintings through the ages and presents them in a fresh way--as works filled with passion, stories, and meaning. 100 illustrations, 70 in color.
About the Author
John Drury is chaplain and fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford. He is the author of many books, including Painting the Word: Christian Pictures and Their Meanings and Creating Poetry.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgements
Introduction: Herbertand#8217;s World
3.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; A Young Man at Cambridge
5.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Deputy to Orator
6.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Francis Bacon
Interlude: The Williams Manuscript
7.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Lost in a Humble Way
8.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Bemerton: Being a Country Person
9.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Herbertand#8217;s Days and Years
10.and#160; Heirs and Imitators
11.and#160; Herbertand#8217;s Readers
12.and#160; The Bread of Faithful Speech
13.and#160; Music at the Close
Index of Works
What Our Readers Are Saying
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