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Blake [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Peter Ackroyd

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Kurzbeschreibung

4. August 1997
16 pages of black-and-white and 24 pages of full-color illustrations, plus 73 illustrations in text.


From the Hardcover edition.

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William Blake, a London hosier's son, began having mystical visions at the age of eight and came to see his life as a revelation of eternity. While eking out a living as an engraver, he offered, quite unsuccessfully, his great series of prophetic books, Songs of Innocence and Experience. For Ackroyd, biographer of both Charles Dickens and T. S. Eliot, Blake was a visionary, who long before Freud saw warfare as a form of repressed sexuality and believed there were eternal states of rage, desire and selfhood through which a man passes, keeping his soul intact. The 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. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

Pressestimmen

"Marvellous...deeply moving and radiant with detail... What makes Ackroyd so exceptional among biographers is the range and beauty of his knowledge.This is a book to go out and buy at once" (Observer)

"Exhilarating...has all the hypnotic power and psychological intensity of a dream-fiction" (Daily Telegraph)

"Glowing and engaged...will send many readers back to the poems enriched" (John Carey Sunday Times)

"Taut, lucid and intelligent...will surely stand as a classic of the genre" (Harpers & Queen)

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Amazon.com: 4.1 von 5 Sternen  9 Rezensionen
32 von 32 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Perceiving William Blake 31. Januar 2000
Von Andrew Karbovsky - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
Reading William Blake's enigmatic painted poems on the Web, standing before his paintings in the Tate Gallery, I wished to find a good book which could help in understanding this great artist. My dream came true when I opened Peter Ackroyd's book 'Blake'. I recommend this book to everyone who is interested (as am I) in life and oeuvre of William Blake, the beautiful mysterious English poet, painter and visionary. Mr Ackroyd does not try to decipher and explain the inner meaning of all Blake's poems, paintings and prophesies (nobody can do this!), but in the description of the great mystic's life, time and milieu he gives us important clues. In several chapters he also confides us personal insights of some Blake's masterpieces. Turning the last page of the book you will wish to reread Blake's poems and prophesies and review his paintings: this is the best an author can attain in writing an artist's biography.
16 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Blake, London, and Beauty - What Better Combination? 30. Mai 2002
Von Craig Matteson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
In 1995 & '96 I was traveling to London regularly on business trips. During one of my site seeing ventures the name of William Blake finally penetrated my consciousness. I became fascinated with the gallery the Tate museum (now Tate Britain) had of his work. I saw this book at the airport and picked it up and it became a London obsession for me. When I would get back to London I would look up streets and sites that I had read about in this WONDERFUL book.
This was the first book of Ackroyd's I read and became a fan immediately. Since he is also a writer of fiction and is a profound scholar of London he offers great insight into Blake and his art. I have since added many other volumes of Blake's works and other books on Blake to my library but I still have deep affection for this book. When someone asks me what book they should read about Blake I always point them to this great book.
You will get to know Blake's life and work, but you will also get to know Blake's relationship to London (where he spent almost all of his life) and to the other artists of his time such as Flaxman, Reynolds, and others. It is even worth re-reading. That is high praise!
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Run-Of-The-Mill 18. Juli 2004
Von Gianmarco Manzione - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
With all the fantastic titles of Blake books out there ("Witness Against the Beast"; "Prophet Against Empire") all Ackroyd could come up with was, uh, "Blake"? From the book's bland title to its dry rehashing of many misconceptions and stereotypes about Blake and his work, Ackroyd's is just another voice tossed into the gathering wilderness of Blake scholarship. There is nothing distinctive or even revelatory about this book, and it seemed to me throughout my reading that it was written more out of obligation than passion. Ackroyd seems more interested in toning down the embellishments of a 150-year-old biography (Gilchrist's) than telling a good story, when it has long been understood that Gilchrist was writing with the fervor and love any writer might have when penning the very first biography of a figure whose legend was already blossoming into something gargantuine.
But more frustrating than Ackyrod's dispassion is the eagerness with which he embraces enduring but disastrous presumptions about Blake. Chief among these is the astounding claim (made by so many others besides Ackroyd) that Blake somehow decided to "turn inward" and thus deny fame: "he had the capacity to become a great public and religious poet but, instead, he turned in upon himself and gained neither influence nor reputation." But Blake WAS the "great religious poet" of his day, and Ackroyd himself concedes this early on: "it can truly be said that he is the last great religous poet in England." Well, which is it, Peter? Any suggestion that Blake somehow missed out on his claim to this distinction says less about Blake than it does about our own epoch, in which we find it increasingly hard to measure success with any yardsticks other than those of the dollars, cents and celebrity.
It is no secret that many of history's most brilliant artists died in squalor because of their practical ineptitude. I don't think Blake cared much for mortgage rates or 401Ks when he was around, and thank god he had the courage not to. Ackroyd repeatedly demonstrates his understanding that Blake was a wholly impractical man and completely unskilled at the cruder concerns of survival, yet he still somehow finds a way to hold Blake responsible for his failures as an entrepreneur. "He never could have been a tradesman," Ackroyd writes, "he was 'totally destitute of the dexterity of a London shopman' and was 'sent away from the counter (of his father's shop) as a booby'." A "booby." Sure doesn't sound like the description of a PR genius to me.
But Ackroyd goes even further in what amounts to a clear understanding that in order to become this "public poet" or "great engraver" Blake would have had to either ignore or compromise his artistic integrity. Sound like a familiar paradox? What Blake did for money and what Blake did for himself were two entirely different worlds in his life, and it is the latter that brought us "Jerusalem," "The Four Zoas," "Milton" and so many stirring and vibrantly colored plates. "He could have continued as one of the best copy-engravers of his day," Ackroyd carries on, "But ... he wished to experiment with his own technique." God forbid. Yes, he could have been marketable, but he was a visionary far more intrigued by his private muse than public fortune and the sacrifices it entailed. As Blake himself writes: "I must create a System, or be enslav'd by another mans/I will not reason and Compare: my business is to create."
Throughout this book the conenction is made -- though apparently without Ackyroyd's comprehension -- between convention and success, withdrawal and genius. This does not have to be the fate of every innovator, but with Blake there just doesn't seem to have been any other way. Why Ackroyd choses not to see this when he himself weaves together all the evidence is truly baffling. Observations such as "in want of income or renown, he had decided to return to more orthodox styles" both make and miss the point. This was Blake's life-long misfortune and that of so many artists who, for the sake of survival, often have to make art of massive appeal, not of private vision or originality. Worse, the banality of the work Blake was sometimes hired to illustrate condemned him to contribute material of corresponding weakness. What an acute agony it must have been for this man to be employed by writers whose skill he knew fell far short of his own, and yet to have to sanction their own work with his time and sweat! I'll take poverty over such indignity any day of the week.
Predictably, Blake himself puts it best: "To the Eyes of a Miser a Guinea is more beautiful than the Sun, and a bag worn with use of Money has more beautiful proportions than a Vine filled with grapes. The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the Eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way." Amen, Mr. Blake.
To be fair, Ackroyd does show great sympathy for the complexity of Blake's character, and especially for the plight described above. Specifically, Ackroyd's investigation into the various personalities Blake manifested over the years, Blake's deep and heartbreaking identity with Job, and Ackroyd's explication of Blake's "London" are long-lasting contributions to Blake scholarship and show that Ackroyd is capable of far more inspiration than he otherwise exhibits throughout the book. For more informed and illuminating discussions of Blake's life and work, David Erdman's "Prophet Against Empire," Harold Bloom's "Blake's Apocalypse" and, to a lesser extent, E.P. Thompson's "Witness Against the Beast" are so good as to render Ackroyd's book obsolete.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Double vision 1. November 2001
Von fireflyhill - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
This is a great biography. Blake is a complex character. A visionary, an artist whose writing and paintings created a total vision. Ackroyd doesn't belittle the aspirations or eccentricities of Blake, and fleshes out his portrait with interesting details and contextualizes Blake's life within the world events through which he lived.
Of course the reproductions of Blake's work don't do justice to them. Particularly the watercolors in which the luminous white comes from the color of the unpainted paper. These works come off looking clumsy in reproductions. If you have the chance to see these works in person, the effect is altogether different. Blake created a worldview, and he inhabited that (largely interior) mythos.
Find this book. Buy it, and then do anything you can to see Blake's works themselves.
7 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen A Good, But Not a Great Biography of William Blake 28. August 2003
Von mp - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
Peter Ackroyd's 1995 "Blake: A Biography," is a good, but not a great biography of the late 18th-early 19th century poet, prophet, painter, and genius, William Blake. Ackroyd's prose is fluid and easy to follow, but the structuring of the book, while it does mostly follow the pattern of Blake's life, is somewhat inconsistent. There are chapters in which Ackroyd does nothing but profile one poem (do we really need a biographer's interpretation of "The Tyger"?), which detracts from the progress of his narrative. Also, there are points in the course of the book where Ackroyd seems a little too condescending to his subject, which imposes a distance between biographer, subject, and reader - my own preference is for the biographer to bring the reader into the subject's life.
One thing that Ackroyd is good at is allowing Blake and his contemporaries to speak for themselves on a number of topics - revealing a depth of ambivalence towards, for example, Blake's lifelong experience of visions, Blake's business acumen (or lack thereof), his hardheaded independence, and so on. Henry Fuseli, John Flaxman, John Linnell, and of course, William Hayley, to whom Blake owed his three year sojourn at Felpham - all are quoted extensively, revealing the social network in which Blake moved. Ackroyd is at his best when he is examining Blake's movements in life, from engraver's apprentice, to art student, through his life of engraving, and in outlining what he was doing to support himself while he produced his illuminated masterpieces.
Ackroyd falters, though, when he tries to play the intentional fallacy game - attempting to explain Blake's nearly-inexplicable works of poetic and prophetic genius by way of the events of his life. Certainly, Blake is one artist who invites such interpretations, with the fact that he attributed his method of illuminated printing to a conversation with his dead brother, Robert, and the fact that Blake incorporates figures from his own life in his works. However, while Ackroyd acknowledges that biographical interpretations are far too simplistic for Blake's works, he does it anyway. I would have much preferred Ackroyd to stick to the conditions and circumstances in which Blake worked and lived and produced his works, than his half-handed attempts at literary and artistic criticism.
The sheer number of illustrations - three sets of portraits, and samples of Blake's works (commercial and non) - are worthy of praise and show a discernment in selection. However, none are noted or labeled anywhere in the text, which makes for somewhat confusing reading. And there are some works which are mentioned once which are represented in Ackroyd's seleciton of illustrations; while others mentioned several times go completely undepicted.
On the whole though, this is an interesting biography - I found myself reading through a lot of it quite voraciously - but I think this is more a testament to the inherent fascination which William Blake's life provides on its own, than the manner in which Ackroyd presents it. Is the book worth reading? Absolutely. For the Blake novice, it provides an entrancing glimpse which should certainly lead many readers into an enjoyment and appreciation for Blake's work. For the most part, Ackroyd does justice to Blake in presenting him as a working man - like anyone - who struggled and failed to make a name for himself in his own time, but whose genius has outlasted the fame of nearly all of his own artistic contemporaries.
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