Cover image for The Apocalypse and the shape of things to come
The Apocalypse and the shape of things to come
Carey, Frances.
Publication Information:
Toronto : University of Toronto Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
352 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N8217.A63 A66 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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The end of the second millenium is an appropriate moment to evaluate the legacy of one of the most vivid and controversial writings in the Christian canon, the Book of Revelation. The idea of an apocalypse that was both destructive and redemptive provided a rich vein of visual and literary imagery that remains a force in contemporary culture. This book examines the tradition as represented by illuminated manuscripts, books, prints, and drawings from the eleventh century up to the end of the Second World War, concentrating on particular episodes or apocalyptic phases, which have often occurred at the end of centuries and have always been rooted in historical and political circumstances.

The defining moment in the development of the pictorial tradition was D#65533;rer's great Apocalypse cycle, published in 1498. Apocalyptic imagery was quickly appropriated as a vehicle for propaganda and satire, becoming secularised at the hands of artists such as the late eighteenth-century satirist James Gillray. Gillray's contemporary William Blake evolved a concept of Apocalypse and Judgement that responded to the millenarian currents and revolutionary upheavals of his time.

In our own century, apocalyptic metaphor has been a powerful vehicle for many writers, artists, and film directors to convey their visions of worldly and spiritual destruction and regeneration.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The Revelation of St. John the Divine, a 1st-century work otherwise known as the Apocalypse, is perhaps the most controversial book of the Christian canon, and the various interpretations of its signs, symbols, and narratives have resulted in humans' engaging in activities ranging from self-flagellation and cult suicide to the creation of extraordinary works of art. Although the word "Apocalypse" originally meant "unveiling," over the centuries it has become a synonym for catastrophe and has inspired artists to imaginative works as have few other topics. The volume opens with essayists Frank Kermode and Norman Cohn examining the biblical and psychological contexts of apocalypticism. Art historians next furnish three chapters providing a general chronological survey and catalog of the imagery; these are followed by the editor's chapter, "The Apocalyptic Imagination: Between Tradition and Modernity." The collection is rounded off with Ian Christie's "Celluloid Apocalypse," which traces cinematic treatments from Metropolis and The Seventh Seal to Ghostbusters. Although present millennial considerations make this a particularly timely topic, apocalyptic visions, in whatever form, will undoubtedly continue to influence "the shape of things to come." A splendidly illustrated and informative work that belongs in every collection. Upper-division undergraduates and up. R. M. Davis; Albion College