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The Stranger from Paradise: A Biography of William Blake

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This fascinating and generously illustrated biography of William Blake, the great English artist, poet, and mystic, encompasses virtually everything that is known of his life and times. Often invoking the words of Blake's own contemporaries, G. E. Bentley describes the struggles of Blake's youth, his gradual embrace of the power of the spirit and visionary art and literatu This fascinating and generously illustrated biography of William Blake, the great English artist, poet, and mystic, encompasses virtually everything that is known of his life and times. Often invoking the words of Blake's own contemporaries, G. E. Bentley describes the struggles of Blake's youth, his gradual embrace of the power of the spirit and visionary art and literature, and the serenity he achieved in his old age.


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This fascinating and generously illustrated biography of William Blake, the great English artist, poet, and mystic, encompasses virtually everything that is known of his life and times. Often invoking the words of Blake's own contemporaries, G. E. Bentley describes the struggles of Blake's youth, his gradual embrace of the power of the spirit and visionary art and literatu This fascinating and generously illustrated biography of William Blake, the great English artist, poet, and mystic, encompasses virtually everything that is known of his life and times. Often invoking the words of Blake's own contemporaries, G. E. Bentley describes the struggles of Blake's youth, his gradual embrace of the power of the spirit and visionary art and literature, and the serenity he achieved in his old age.

30 review for The Stranger from Paradise: A Biography of William Blake

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mary Overton

    "What [Catherine Blake] was good at was managing [the Blakes'] finances. Blake himself 'spoke of his horror of Money. Of his turning pale when money had been offerd him', and he confessed that 'I seldom carry money in my pockets': '"Were I to love money," he said, "I should lose all power of original thought; desire of gain deadens the genius of man. I might roll in wealth and ride in a golden chariot, were I to listen to the voice of parsimony. My business is not to gather gold, but to make glo "What [Catherine Blake] was good at was managing [the Blakes'] finances. Blake himself 'spoke of his horror of Money. Of his turning pale when money had been offerd him', and he confessed that 'I seldom carry money in my pockets': '"Were I to love money," he said, "I should lose all power of original thought; desire of gain deadens the genius of man. I might roll in wealth and ride in a golden chariot, were I to listen to the voice of parsimony. My business is not to gather gold, but to make glorious shapes, expressing god-like sentiments." His disciple Samuel Palmer said that 'He worked on with serenity when there was only a shilling in the house. Once (he told me) he spent part of one of these last shillings on a camel's hair brush.' "When Catherine felt she had to mention that "'The money is going, Mr. Blake.' "'Oh, d-- the money!' he would shout; 'it's always the money!' "Catherine learned to avoid these outbursts by setting "'before him at dinner just what there was in the house, without any comment until, finally, the empty platter had to make its appearance: which hard fact effectually reminded him it was time to go [from designing] to his engraving for a while. At that, when fully embarked again, he was not unhappy; work being his natural element.' "Catherine knew, however, that their resources were not so depleted as the empty plate suggested, for she 'always kept a guinea or sovereign for any Emergency, of which Blake never knew, even to the day of his Death. This she did for years ....' The only person who could manage William Blake consistently was his wife Catherine." pg. 73

  2. 5 out of 5

    Prima Seadiva

    I was excited to check this out I didn't even have to put a hold on it- a minor miracle at my library. I read the first 80-100 pages, tried to read more then browsed the rest hoping I would get engaged somewhere. I found it rather disjointed and a bit turgid. While obviously massively researched (with thousands of footnotes and 50 pages of addenda), I could not get a sense of flow about the events of Blake's life. Except for an occasional paragraph neither he nor contemporaries really came to li I was excited to check this out I didn't even have to put a hold on it- a minor miracle at my library. I read the first 80-100 pages, tried to read more then browsed the rest hoping I would get engaged somewhere. I found it rather disjointed and a bit turgid. While obviously massively researched (with thousands of footnotes and 50 pages of addenda), I could not get a sense of flow about the events of Blake's life. Except for an occasional paragraph neither he nor contemporaries really came to life for me. I also think I would prefer separate chapters about his actual art processes. As an artist I found them interesting but when inserted the flow of his story was interrupted for me. Last maybe not completely fair in a biography format(and my poor eyesight) the reproductions of his work were so small I could not really see detail or read any of the text. I love Blake's work and had hoped to know more about the man and his life but this book was not successful for me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Aria Ligi

    This was a great book. I highly recommend it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    I decided to look up a biography of Blake after I pulled his poetry off the shelf one day and realized that I couldn't understand the majority of it. Things like "Vala, or the Four" and "The Book of Urizen" had no meaning to me-- I didn't know all these proper nouns. Perhaps a biography would help. And it did. I learned that Blake grew up a Dissenter, a group opposed to the dominant Anglican church and that viewed the world as under the influence of the Beast and the Great Whore as pictured in t I decided to look up a biography of Blake after I pulled his poetry off the shelf one day and realized that I couldn't understand the majority of it. Things like "Vala, or the Four" and "The Book of Urizen" had no meaning to me-- I didn't know all these proper nouns. Perhaps a biography would help. And it did. I learned that Blake grew up a Dissenter, a group opposed to the dominant Anglican church and that viewed the world as under the influence of the Beast and the Great Whore as pictured in the Book of Revelation. I learned that he believed himself a prophet and that he had visions and talked with spirits. I had a hard time fully engaging with the book because it seemed written for a different audience-- for scholars of Blake rather than the average reader. A large portion of the book was quotes, and quotes that weren't updated to modern capitalization, spelling-- and some words were just abbreviations. Perhaps that's too much to expect in a biography. After reading it, his poetry will still be a challenge. Many of his contemporaries felt the same way, and he was even called insane, especially later in life. But some can be very inspiring.

  5. 5 out of 5

    James

    Excellent, readable, and very well documented biography of William Blake from one of the top Blake critics alive today. Main criticisms I've heard are that it doesn't rely enough on original archival research and is too close to being a narrative version of Blake Records. However, this work is so well researched that archival research would be a supplement to an already dense structure. Does a good job of focusing on Blake's life and reading the poems within it rather than descending into explic Excellent, readable, and very well documented biography of William Blake from one of the top Blake critics alive today. Main criticisms I've heard are that it doesn't rely enough on original archival research and is too close to being a narrative version of Blake Records. However, this work is so well researched that archival research would be a supplement to an already dense structure. Does a good job of focusing on Blake's life and reading the poems within it rather than descending into explication of the poems. Best Blake biography since Gilchrist.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    At times it is difficult to catch sight of Blake himself through the sheer fog of perspectives Bentley discloses. It is astounding the number of voices he puts forward to testify to Blake's life; it would be nice to have a little more of Blake's own voice. That said, the book was thorough and enlightening. At times it is difficult to catch sight of Blake himself through the sheer fog of perspectives Bentley discloses. It is astounding the number of voices he puts forward to testify to Blake's life; it would be nice to have a little more of Blake's own voice. That said, the book was thorough and enlightening.

  7. 4 out of 5

    joshuA

    Bookmarked at page 273.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Blake will never die he brought to light what most would never say or do.

  9. 4 out of 5

    James Prothero

    a very detailed and well written, and scholarly biography

  10. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

  12. 4 out of 5

    farzaneh

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alison

  14. 4 out of 5

    Molly

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carla Arbagey

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alebriand

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kent Proctor

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bahar Ranjbar

  20. 4 out of 5

    Subhajit Das

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erik Hemming

  22. 4 out of 5

    Grant Wilder

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Narada

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

  26. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Armstrong

  27. 5 out of 5

    Phil

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  29. 4 out of 5

    Celso

  30. 4 out of 5

    yasekabood

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