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.