EMANUEL SWEDENBORG is acknowledged today as one of the great thinkers of the eighteenth century and a pioneering figure in the history of Western thought. Described by Jorge Luis Borges as the most extraordinary man in recorded history, Swedenborg’s book Heaven and Hell has had a direct influence on William Blake, Honoré de Balzac, Gerard de Nerval, W B Yeats, S T Coleridge, Fyodor Dostoevsky, C G Jung and many others, and his theory of correspondences is rightly understood as one of the defining influences on Romantic and Symbolist thought. More recently, through the work of Czesław Miłosz, Italo Calvino, A S Byatt and Iain Sinclair, we see his name re-emerge in relation to ‘pyschogeography’, ‘historical realism’ and ‘magical realism’. This brief pocket biography, by award-winning author and biographer Peter Ackroyd, is the perfect introduction to Swedenborg and the first in a series of accessible introductory pocket books.
PETER ACKROYD is a broadcaster, essayist and one of the UK’s foremost biographers and novelists. He has written nearly 40 works of non-fiction, including studies on William Blake, T S Eliot and Isaac Newton, and nearly 20 works of fiction. Among his many awards and honours are the Guardian Fiction Prize (1985), the Whitbread Biography Award (1984) and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (1998). He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1984 and was awarded a CBE in 2003.
For Blake: ‘Marvellous…deeply moving and radiant with detail…What makes Ackroyd so exceptional among biographers is the range and beauty of his knowledge. This is a book to go out and buy at once’—Observer
‘Exhilarating…has all the hypnotic power and psychological intensity of a dream-fiction’—Daily Telegraph
For Poe: A Life Cut Short: ‘Ackroyd is more like a literary spiritualist who summons up the voices of the dead and encourages them to possess his writing…It is as short and sharp as a flick-knife’—Daily Telegraph
‘an ideal biographical subject for Peter Ackroyd…Admirably captures the heady mix of the esoteric, grotesque and thoroughly modern’—Sunday Times
For Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination: ‘One cannot but marvel at Ackroyd’s erudition, his energy in marshalling minutiae, his ear for quotation, his flair for dazzling juxtapositions, his vibrant imagination and sheer exuberance’—The Times
For The Life of Thomas More: ‘Thanks to Ackroyd’s skill, scrupulous research and inspired interpretation of historical texts, vital sparks of life have been breathed into the austere icon’—Daily Mail