The Emblems of James Reaney: Magnetically Drawn

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The Porcupine's Quill, Mar 11, 2013 - Literary Criticism - 200 pages

The literary emblem can trace its roots back to sixteenth-century English collections, which sought to reconcile classical philosophy with Christian doctrine. Consisting of images and verses, emblems challenged readers to use their wit and knowledge to deduce the connection between the visual and the textual. In The Emblems of James Reaney, former Reaney student and professor Thomas Gerry draws on his own considerable wit and knowledge to help readers understand the myth, mystery and meaning behind ten literary emblems, published in 1972 as ‘Two Chapters from an Emblem Book’ by poet, playwright and painter James Reaney.

Gerry conducts an exhaustive investigation of the ‘magnetic arrangement’ that links each emblem with some of Reaney’s best-known fiction, poetry, drama and painting. His detailed analysis of the visual and verbal aspects of each emblem draws on alchemy, biblical mythology and Haitian voodoo. By referring to the influence and inspiration that Reaney drew from William Blake, Edmund Spenser, Northrop Frye and Carl Jung, Gerry reveals the overall cycle of meaning behind the emblems and shows how Reaney marries the opposing concepts of art and experience into a unified artistic vision.

The Emblems of James Reaney presents a fascinating organizational scheme within which to study some of Reaney’s most beloved works, encouraging readers to frolic in the playbox of Reaney’s imagination and to revisit his work – and Canadian literature – with new eyes.



Reaneys Visionary Method
Baron Samedi Porte Baton
An Emblernatic Photograph oflames Reaney

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About the author (2013)

Thomas Gerry launched a successful career as a Professor of English at Laurentian University in 1988. Currently, Gerry sits on the advisory board for Studies in Canadian Literature, reviews books for scholarly journals and has published numerous poems and articles - and even several music recordings. His fascination with interdisciplinary topics has led him to research the works of Anna Jameson, Elizabeth Simcoe, Joni Mitchell, David Milne and others who write as well as create visual art. He has produced several articles on the subject, including one about Reaney, which is the genesis of The Emblems of James Reaney. Gerry continues to teach courses in Canadian thought and culture, literary and critical theory, and English literature at Laurentian University.

Upcoming projects include further studies of text and images by Anna Jameson and Elizabeth Simcoe, as well as a forthcoming book by Mercedes Luanco entitled Una Experiencia Sorprendente: Aprendiendo a Pintar / The Story of an Encounter: Painting My New Way that he edited and co-translated with Jorge Virchez for Scrivener Press.

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