Blake /
Peter Ackroyd.
1st American ed.
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1996, c1995.
399 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
067940967X :
More Details
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1996, c1995.
067940967X :
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 383-389) and index.
A Look Inside
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1997-05:
Ackroyd, novelist and biographer (e.g., Dickens, CH, Jul'91), has produced a rich account of William Blake's life and times in London, 1757-1827. The author's descriptive skills are evident in his depictions of the high and low in London life. He is plausible, too, on Blake's difficult personality, and on his relationships with such associates and patrons as William Hayley, John Flaxman, Thomas Stothard, and Thomas Butts. Blake's wife, Catherine, also receives appropriate attention. Ackroyd's Blake seems a real man in a real society, but he was extraordinary too--a visionary poet and artist. Ackroyd takes Blake's visions very seriously, finding remarkable "the extent to which an ordinary childhood capacity [for visions] was maintained by [Blake] until the end of his life." Like James King's William Blake: His Life, (CH, Oct'91), Ackroyd's book uses current sources, though Ackroyd's study is longer and thereby more detailed. King attempts more literary interpretation; Ackroyd is distinctly better on the art. King will do for one with passing interest in Blake, but Ackroyd's readable volume is appropriate for both the casual and the serious student. All collections. J. D. McGowan; Illinois Wesleyan University
Appeared in Library Journal on 1996-04-01:
In his latest work, noted novelist and biographer Ackroyd (The Trial of Elizabeth Cree, LJ 5/1/95) writes on the life and influences of 18th-century poet and engraver William Blake. His biography explores in extensive detail the motivations behind Blake's captivating works. Born into a home built upon a cemetery, in a neighborhood containing an orphanage, an overcrowded hospital, and a workhouse for women, Blake emerged a sensitive, nervous child who saw visions of angels. Like someone who is alone in a crowded room, Blake isolated himself from his family and surrounded himself with peers who shared his love of antiquity. Blake's life was ruled by contrary images‘heaven and hell, agelessness and mortality‘and he was even able to write both backward and forward fluently, a skill needed for an engraver. Complemented by an impressive number of illustrations of Blake's engravings and family and friends, this painstakingly researched biography is a sensitive portrayal of a complicated and talented man. Highly recommended. [BOMC selection.]‘Jaqueline Garlesky, Univ. of Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Pa.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1996-02-26:
Published to rave reviews in England, Ackroyd's moving and luminous biography of William Blake (1757-1827) serves as an ideal point of entry into the poet and artist's visionary world. Withdrawn, secretive, detached from ordinary affairs, Blake, a London hosier's son, began having mystical visions around age eight and came to see his life as a revelation of eternity. While eking out a living as an engraver, he stripped away levels of conventional perception to create a universe of mythical figures, muses and angels, or prophets and bards who stand alone against the world. For Ackroyd, biographer of Dickens and T.S. Eliot, Blake's tragedy was that he had the capacity to become a great public and religious poet but instead turned in upon himself, gaining neither reputation nor influence in his lifetime. Combining meticulous scholarship with uncanny psychological insight, this marvelously illustrated biography (with color and b&w plates of Blake's paintings, drawings and engravings) presents him as a prescient social critic who, long before Freud, saw warfare as a form of repressed sexuality, and whose prophetic epic poems offer a cogent vision of humanity's spiritual renewal. BOMC selection. (Apr.)
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Library Journal, November 1995
Publishers Weekly, February 1996
Booklist, April 1996
Library Journal, April 1996
Choice, May 1997
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