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William Blake vs the World

John Higgs

4 Reviews

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Biography: literary

A wild and unexpected journey through culture, science, philosophy and religion to better understand the mercurial genius William Blake in the twenty-first century

Poet, artist, visionary and author of the unofficial English national anthem 'Jerusalem', William Blake is an archetypal misunderstood genius. His life passed without recognition and he worked without reward, mocked, dismissed and misinterpreted. Yet from his ignoble end in a pauper's grave, Blake now occupies a unique position as an artist who unites and attracts people from all corners of society, and a rare inclusive symbol of English identity.

Blake famously experienced visions, and it is these that shaped his attitude to politics, sex, religion, society and art. Thanks to the work of neuroscientists and psychologists, we are now in a better position to understand what was happening inside that remarkable mind, and gain a deeper appreciation of his brilliance. His timeless work, we will find, has never been more relevant.

In William Blake vs the World we return to a world of riots, revolutions and radicals, discuss movements from the Levellers of the sixteenth century to the psychedelic counterculture of the 1960s, and explore the latest discoveries in neurobiology, quantum physics and comparative religion. Taking the reader on wild detours into unfamiliar territory, John Higgs places the bewildering eccentricities of a most singular artist into context. And although the journey begins with us trying to understand him, we will ultimately discover that it is Blake who helps us to understand ourselves.

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Praise for William Blake vs the World

  • Rich, complex and original, Higgs takes us to places that even Blake himself might have found surprising

  • A true user's guide to the imagination, and one of the best books on Blake I have ever read

  • Absolutely wonderful! This book managed to make Blake's mind and mythology understandable to me at last - for that I am truly grateful

  • This is an alchemical dream of a book, a compelling, observant and deeply profound insight into William Blake, his life and work, his endurance and inspirations. John Higgs has recorded a life beyond myth. It is a beautiful book, his writing glittering with Blake's visions, soulful creativity and resilience

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John Higgs

John Higgs is the author I HAVE AMERICA SURROUNDED, THE KLF, STRANGER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE, WATLING STREET, THE FUTURE STARTS HERE and WILLIAM BLAKE NOW. He lives in Brighton with his wife and their two children.

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