Blessed and Beautiful

Picturing the Saints

Robert Kiely

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A profound, witty, and informative account of the lives of the saints depicted in the devotional art of the Renaissance

This book offers a powerful and searching meditation on the lives of the saints and the images of them painted by Renaissance artists in Italy. Robert Kiely, a distinguished scholar of modernist literature and a historian and critic of exceptional sensibility, has a keen eye and uncanny ability to capture details of significance and to prompt the reader to look again and to see with fresh eyes that the lives of saints and the Renaissance depictions of them are anything but dull, uniform, or narrowly orthodox. His beautifully written and thoughtful book treats saints seriously as human religious figures (not icons of perfection), brought to life by great Italian paintings in dialogue with scripture, legend, and poetry.

Wise, learned, and readable, and offering a rare combination of insight into religion, literature, and art, this ravishingly illustrated and vividly written volume should be by your side whenever you pick up a classic text, look at a Renaissance painting, or spend a few moments in private meditation or prayer.

Robert Kiely is professor emeritus of English, Harvard University. His books include The Romantic Novel in England; Beyond Egotism: The Fiction of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence; and Reverse Tradition, Postmodern Fiction and the Nineteenth-Century Novel.

"Kiely's knowledge of literature and his fascination with religious images come together exquisitely. . . . Engagingly written . . . certain to attract a diversity of readers with interests in religion, literature, and art."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This is simply one of the best books ever written about Christian art."—Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald (UK)

"Magnificently illustrated and beautifully conceived . . . trenchant and even witty without being ponderous."—Tracey O'Shaughnessy, Republican-American

"[a] splendidly produced book…This an elegantly written narrative, full of insight, giving much pause for fresh reflection…Robert Kiely demonstrates clearly in this lovely work that “blessed and beautiful” indeed are those who have the saints to inspire them on their journey through life."—Christopher Colven, The Art Newspaper

"A witty and informative account of the lives of the saints depicted in the devotional art of the Renaissance. It is a learned and spiritual combination of insight into religion."— Methodist Recorder

"simply one of the best books ever written about Christian art… This thoughtful, richly illustrated book reminds us that piety and pulchritude can go hand-in-hand."—Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald

"Robert Kiely has thus pitched upon a subject rich in value and purpose, and has produced a volume which believers will treasure and even sceptics should enjoy."—Paul Johnson, Literary Review

"Robert Kiely's book is magnificently illustrated and beautifully conceived. . . . Kiely's essays are trenchant and even witty without being ponderous. This is a wonderful gift for the devout Christian or art aficionado who would like to learn more about both."—Tracy O'Shaughnessy, The Sunday Republican

"Kiely's book is best for readers interested in both artistic and literary depictions of the saints and for libraries focusing on art history or religion."—Martha Smith,
ISBN: 9780300162776
Publication Date: October 26, 2010
288 pages, 6 1/2 x 10
130 color illus.