'Truly astonishing in its detail this must be one of the most illuminating and enlightening biographies to date.' Michael Eavis cbe, Founder of the Glastonbury Festival
A brilliant new biography of the mystic poet and artist William Blake – and the first to explore his startlingly original quest for spiritual truth, as well as the profound lessons he has for us all today.
The hymn 'Jerusalem', with its famous words by William Blake, stirs our hearts with its evocation of a new holy city built in 'England's green and pleasant land'. However, until now, the spiritual essence of William Blake has been buried under myriad inadequate biographies, college dissertations and arts commentaries, written by people who have missed the luminescent keys to Blake's symbolism and liberating spirit. Any attempt to uncover the 'real' Blake is thwarted by his status as a legend or 'national treasure'.
In Jerusalem! Tobias Churton expertly takes you beyond this superficial facade, showing you Blake the esoteric genius – a myth-maker, brilliantly using symbols and theology to express his unique insights into the nature of body, mind and spirit. Churton is not only deeply knowledgeable about Blake's life and times, but also uses his shared values with Blake to enter into his labyrinth of thought and feeling.
Challenging the conventional views of Blake as either a 'romantic poet' or a rebel with ideas about free sex, Tobias Churton's startling new biography reveals, at last, the real William Blake in all his glory, so that anyone who sings 'Jerusalem' in future will see its beauty with renewed understanding.
With access to a large body of never-before-published records – letters, diaries, pamphlets and books – Tobias Churton casts unprecedented light and perspective on William Blake's life and times.
Blake's writing – heartfelt, vivid and profound – accounts for his status as one of the best-loved poets writing in English. Americans need no reminding that Blake inspired Ralph Waldo Emerson and American visionary Walt Whitman. Yet he spent the larger part of his creative career being ridiculed and suppressed. In Jerusalem! Churton conjures a superb portrait of Blake's London, and in particular the rivalries of the cultural community in which the poet-artist was often misunderstood. He argues that Blake believed Man does not 'belong' to society; rather,we are all members of the Divine Body, co-existent with God. He was concerned with a total spiritual revival – what had gone wrong with Man, and how to put it right.
Blake's message has proved to be as challenging to today's readers as it was to his contemporaries. Blake perceived, so far ahead of his time, that the philosophy of materialism would dominate the world – a culture from which we now yearn to break free. Jerusalem! is unashamedly ambitious in its scope and objective. Churton ends once and for all the persistent notion of Blake as a startling peculiarity, whilst emancipating him from the labels of 'Romantic poet' or 'national treasure'. Even if it means sacrificing some cherished illusions or uncovering a few painful surprises, this compelling biography reveals, for the first time, the true spirit of William B