Peter Ackroyd

“He is a Londoner, too, in his writings. In his familiar letters he displays a rambling urban vivacity, a tendency to to veer off the point and to muddle his syntax. He had a brilliantly eclectic mind, picking up words and images while at the same time forging them in new and unexpected combinations. He conceived several ideas all at once, and sometimes forgot to separate them into their component parts. This was true of his lectures, too, in which brilliant perceptions were scattered in a wilderness of words. As he wrote on another occasion, "The lake babbled not less, and the wind murmured not, nor the little fishes leaped for joy that their tormentor was not."
This strangely contorted and convoluted style also characterizes his verses, most of which were appended as commentaries upon his paintings. Like Blake, whose prophetic books bring words and images in exalted combination, Turner wished to make a complete statement. Like Blake, he seemed to consider the poet's role as being in part prophetic. His was a voice calling in the wilderness, and, perhaps secretly, he had an elevated sense of his status and his vocation. And like Blake, too, he was often considered to be mad. He lacked, however, the poetic genius of Blake - compensated perhaps by the fact that by general agreement he is the greater artist.”


Peter Ackroyd, Turner
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Turner Turner by Peter Ackroyd
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