The Stranger from Paradise

A Biography of William Blake

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William Blake’s wife once said of him: “I have very little of Mr. Blake’s company; he is always in Paradise.” This fascinating and generously illustrated biography of the great English artist, poet, and mystic brings us very much into Blake’s company, presenting, often in the words of his contemporaries, almost everything that is known of his life and times.

G.E. Bentley, Jr., tells us that although Blake struggled with the ways of the world in his youth and early manhood, he was always frustrated that these ways were not his own. Instead he spoke the language of radical religious dissent, standing outside the popular political and social conventions of his time and lamenting the power of Church and State. Blake learned to participate in traditions of vision and piety, to exult in the power of the spirit and in visionary art and literature. He created a new gospel of art, other-worldly and fundamentally spiritual, and in his old age, he exhibited a serenity in poverty and a devotion to the realm of the spirit that was revered by his disciples. Blake’s life bears the shape of great art itself, says Bentley. From his youthful vaulting ambitions in painting, engraving, poetry, and music, through his mature flirtation with fortune, to his joyful return to the vision and confidence of his youth, Blake’s life provides a pattern of noble self-sacrifice and wise self-understanding that is an inspiration to his generation and to ours.

G. E. Bentley, Jr., emeritus professor of English at the University of Toronto, is the author of numerous books about Blake, including Blake Records, Second Edition, published by Yale University Press.

“Certain to become the standard biography of Blake.”—Choice

“[A] splendid account and a fitting capstone to Bentley’s lifetime of Blake scholarship. . . . The many fine colored plates and other illustrations add to the attractiveness of a book well worth the hours of reading.”—First Things

"[A] perceptive and forceful study."—Independent

“[A] comprehensive mapping of the life of both Blake and his wife, Catherine Boucher.”—Scott Hightower, Library Journal

“Bentley charts Blake’s transition from promising young commercial engraver to self-created visionary.”—New Yorker

“[Bentley] affectionately and authoritatively renders the life of the artist who’s now considered less madman than visionary. . . . Via Blake’s writings and drawings, records of his intimates and thorough treatments of artworks such as the Visionary Heads, Bentley evokes something of the whole man—an eccentric genius who saw the world as a product of personal imagination.”—Publishers Weekly

“A masterful monument having some of the energy and irresistible authority of Blake himself. . . . Illustrated profusely and designed to capture the spirit of its difficult subject, The Stranger from Paradise succeeds in making Blake a bit more comprehensible in his own terms. By arguing for the role of art in Blake’s life, and by using documented facts to tell the story, Bentley has given us the man himself in all his compelling strangeness.”—Tom D’Evelyn, The Providence Sunday Journal

“G.E. Bentley, Jr., as a first class scholar, has written a first class biography on William Blake, a study published by a first class press. . . . No other biography on Blake stands this tall: it is a giant among pigmies. . . . [It] will remain mandatory reading for decades to come. . . . [A] monumental study of William Blake’s life. This superlative work will become a standard reference and guide to those interested in Blake.”—Paul Miner, Albion

Selected by Choice as an Outstanding Academic title for 2001
ISBN: 9780300100303
Publication Date: April 10, 2003
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
632 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
120 b/w + 50 color illus.
Blake Records

Second Edition

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