Synopses & Reviews
William Blake, overlooked in his time, remains an enigmatic figure to contemporary readers despite his near canonical status. Out of a wounding sense of alienation and dividedness he created a profoundly original symbolic language, in which words and images unite in a unique interpretation of self and society. He was a counterculture prophet whose art still challenges us to think afresh about almost every aspect of experienceandmdash;social, political, philosophical, religious, erotic, and aesthetic. He believed that we live in the midst of Eternity here and now, and that if we could open our consciousness to the fullness of being, it would be like experiencing a sunrise that never ends.
Following Blakeandrsquo;s life from beginning to end, acclaimed biographer Leo Damrosch draws extensively on Blakeandrsquo;s poems, his paintings, and his etchings and engravings to offer this generously illustrated account of Blake the man and his vision of our world. The authorandrsquo;s goal is to inspire the reader with the passion he has for his subject, achieving the imaginative response that Blake himself sought to excite. The book is an invitation to understanding and enjoyment, an invitation to appreciate Blakeandrsquo;s imaginative world and, in so doing, to open the doors of our perception.
and#8220;Damroschand#8217;s approach is forensic. . .For me the Swift who emerges from these patient investigations is a more rounded personality.and#8221;and#8212;George Walden, The Times
and#8216;If Damrosch follows Ehrenpreis in anything, itand#8217;s in the ambition, indicated by his and#8216;life and worldand#8217; subtitle, to ground biography in social context. He does that job with efficiency and a sure touch.and#8217;and#8212;Thomas Keymer, London Review of Books
and#8220;Convincing and vivid. . . . Damrosch has . . . let us glimpse the human roots of Swiftand#8217;s sometimes inhuman irony.and#8221;and#8212;John Mullan, The Guardian
and#8220;Damrosch is incisive about Swiftand#8217;s personality . . . and writes with fine Swiftian clarity, but does not simplify. He acknowledges that, investigating Swift, you run into a revolving door of contradictions. . . . But Damrosch sees him, rightly, not just as a tragic figure but as a fearless thinker whose works are an antidote to optimism's happy lies.and#8221; and#8212; John Carey, London Sunday Times
and#8220;[Damrosch] writes elegantly, has exactly the right mix of empathy and detachment, and is admirably open-minded in his approach to complex evidence and#8211; some of it the product of very new scholarship. . .andnbsp;this will be the definitive life of Swift for years to come.and#8221;and#8212;Jonathan Bate, New Statesman
andlsquo;. . .an oxygenated account that blows fresh air on Swift, the most readable account in recent timesandrsquo; andmdash;Brean Hammond, History Today
and#39;The book, far from being a dry academic analysis based on sketchy records, is a romp through the years when Britain became established as a world power. . .Damrosch writes with wry humour and clarity of detail, often cuttingly disputing the theories of previous Swift biographers. To read this hefty book is to get a highly enjoyable education.andrsquo;andmdash;Claire Looby, The Irish Times
andquot;Leo Damroschandrsquo;s luminous new book on William Blake forsakes esoteric scholarship and addresses itself to the common reader who is invited to a festive celebration of the great English poet who was also an extraordinary visual artist and a profound and original thinker.andquot;andmdash;Harold Bloom
andldquo;This astute, generously illustrated study is an excellent introduction to William Blake. It will help both new and experienced readers to understand Blake as poet, painter, engraver, printerandmdash;and as a person.andrdquo;andmdash;Andrew Lincoln, Queen Mary University of London
andldquo;Acclaimed scholar and biographer Damrosch brings decades of study to this analysis of William Blakeand#39;s art, poetry, religion, and philosophy. . . . The authorand#39;s study of the man and clear style makes this much easier to read and tempts readers to seek out more. . . . Damrosch expertly navigates Blakeand#39;s andlsquo;questing imagination,andrsquo; which andlsquo;has never ceased to startle and inspire.andrsquo; General readers looking for a challenge will love this book and will dive into Blakeand#39;s work.andrdquo;andmdash;Kirkus Reviews, starred review
andldquo;Damroschandrsquo;s readings are nuanced, sensitive, and deeply perceptive, touched with wonder at the poetandrsquo;s originality and alive to the ways that Blakeandrsquo;s beliefs presented andlsquo;a wide-ranging challenge to orthodox morality.andrsquo; With generous illustrations, including a gallery of breathtaking full-color plates, Damroschandrsquo;s study will build an appreciation among scholars and general readers alike for Blakeandrsquo;s andlsquo;vast, complicated mythandrsquo; and reinforce his place in the Western canon as a andlsquo;profound thinkerandrsquo; and creative genius andlsquo;not in a single art but in two.andrsquo;andrdquo;andmdash;Publishers Weekly, starred review
From a master biographer and leading scholar of eighteenth-century literature comesand#160;an award-winningand#160;new portrait of the greatest satirist in the English language
From a master biographer and leading scholar of eighteenth-century literature comes an award-winning new portrait of the greatest satirist in the English language
Jonathan Swift is best remembered today as the author of Gulliver s Travels, the satiric fantasy that quickly became a classic and has remained in print for nearly three centuries. Yet Swift also wrote many other influential works, was a major political and religious figure in his time, and became a national hero, beloved for his fierce protest against English exploitation of his native Ireland. What is really known today about the enigmatic man behind these accomplishments? Can the facts of his life be separated from the fictions?
In this deeply researched biography, Leo Damrosch draws on discoveries made over the past thirty years to tell the story of Swift s life anew. Probing holes in the existing evidence, he takes seriously some daring speculations about Swift s parentage, love life, and various personal relationships and shows how Swift s public version of his life the one accepted until recently was deliberately misleading. Swift concealed aspects of himself and his relationships, and other people in his life helped to keep his secrets.
Assembling suggestive clues, Damrosch re-narrates the events of Swift s life while making vivid the sights, sounds, and smells of his English and Irish surroundings.Through his own words and those of a wide circle of friends, a complex Swift emerges: a restless, combative, empathetic figure, a man of biting wit and powerful mind, and a major figure in the history of world letters."
In this richly illustrated portrait, a prize-winning biographer surveys the entire sweep of William Blakeandrsquo;s creative work while telling the story of his life
About the Author
Praise for Leo Damroschandrsquo;s Jonathan Swift: His Life and World
andldquo;This will be the definitive life of Swift for years to come.andrdquo;andmdash;Jonathan Bate, New Statesman
andldquo;Superb. . . . Damroschandrsquo;s outstanding book has raised Swiftandrsquo;s provocative genius to life. . . . Damrosch has brought [Swiftandrsquo;s] vision into sharp focus and exposed its disquieting relevance.andrdquo;andmdash;Jeffrey Collins, Wall Street Journal
andldquo;[A] commanding new biography. . . . Damrosch is gifted with a fluent style [and] sturdy sense of humor.andrdquo;andmdash;John Simon, New York Times Book Review (Editorandrsquo;s Choice)
and#160;andldquo;Damrosch tells this story . . . with great energy and elegantly worn erudition. He restores to Swift the dignity he deserves, reminding us that the really shocking things about him lie not in his life but in his work.andrdquo;andmdash;Fintan Oandrsquo;Toole, New York Review of Books
andldquo;Leo Damrosch conjures up Jonathan Swift with hallucinatory vividness, allowing the contradictions of this baffling, elusive genius full rein. He recovers in rich detail the world in which Gulliverand#39;s Travels and other enduring masterpieces were created. This is a brilliant and humane biography.andrdquo;andmdash;Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
and#160;andldquo;A lively and pleasurable experience: vigorous, compassionate, occasionally pugnacious, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. . . . Damroschandrsquo;s book, and the centuries-old voices in it, are alive and talking to us.andrdquo;andmdash;Laura Collins-Hughes, Boston Globe
- Winner of the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography
- A New York Times Notable Book of 2013
- Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and Plutarch Award
- Named a Best Book of 2013 by the Daily Beast literary editor Lucas Wittmann