William Blake: The Gates of Paradise

ISBN: 088776763X
ISBN 13: 9780887767630
By: Michael Bedard

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Reader's Thoughts

Jody Mena

Blake's life is painted against the backdrop of his day and age, and his biography is interspersed with information on the political and social climate of his time, as well as information on his various occupations and crafts. It's a good over view of his life, but more, it's a great cross section of that time and place in history.


A well researched biography of the enigmatic poet and artist for young readers. Blake’s story is laid out in chapters named for a picture from Blake’s “The Gates of Paradise”, an emblem book, which he engraved in 1793. These illustrations, as well as the other examples of the artists work well illustrate Blake’s unique and at the time, unheard of style. Bedard recounts the mystical experiences that guided Blake’s art, and his ideals, both of which made him an outcast in eighteenth century Britain. The book is a fairly quick read, in spite of its 190 pages; do not only to the large type font and plentiful illustrations, but also to Bedard’s engaging style. Bedard is a most sympathetic biographer, and recounts the story of Blake’s life and struggles with a tone of reverence. Sure to appeal to young artists, poets, and mystics.


A lovely book: lovely in its design, its writing and its subject. Bedard develops his theme, that Blake "...was an engraver by trade, a craftsman in an age that no longer valued craft. He was a visionary in an age that had no time for visions" [2] by paying equal attention to the details of Blake's life (which was pretty much free of financial success, but rich in friends), his poetry (quoted at length), his visual art (described in loving, perceptive detail), and his troubled, changing times. This is not entirely a piece of puff pastry as occasional lines like "At 21 his opinions were already formed, and once he had formed an opinnion he was not easily moved from it" [28] show, and it left me both better informed about the man and his art, and more appreciative of his vision.


Really great biography of William Blake. Integrates his art and poetry into the biography, trying to explain where he was and what he would have seen with what he created. Very well done.

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