Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Why I Love the Pre-Raphaelites Robert Parry
As the term suggests, the Pre-Raphaelites sought to re-connect with a form of painting that pre-dated the classical formality of Raphael – so returning to the simplicity and innocence, as they saw it, of the Medieval world. They did not wish to adhere any longer to the formal rules and strictures laid down by the art schools. They embraced, instead, a new freedom of style, and they seized upon the rich heritage of English art, English poetry and literature as sources for their inspiration - including the newly interpreted vision of antiquity described by the poet Alfred Tennyson, a contemporary of many of the young painters themselves. The result was a fabulous, extravagant and sensual genre of painting that features Arthurian knights and beautiful, elegant heroines; sirens and nymphs, and handsome Homeric heroes or noble seekers of the grail. There are also Shakespearian characters such as the tragic Ophelia or Lady Macbeth. And there is also the mysterious Lady of Shalott – drawn from Tennyson’s iconic poem and which was illustrated over and over again by the Pre-Raphaelites and others. This was a new style of painting rich in symbolism and allegory but with a natural realism and attention to detail not seen for centuries - nourishment for the brain as well as a feast for the eyes.
What has any of this got to do with my novel ‘The Arrow Chest?’ Well, the hero of the story is almost – but not quite – one of those very same fiery young revolutionaries mentioned above. He is in all but name a Pre-Raphaelite. He has enormous admiration for the history of old England and is compelled to become involved with the past in a very direct sense as the story unfolds. The title, by the way, ‘The Arrow Chest’ comes from the object in which the body (and head) of Anne Boleyn was buried after her execution in 1536 - a long time before the Pre-Raphaelite movement in 19th century England. How this strange alchemy of events from two different centuries happen to sit together side by side in the story is something that can only be revealed within the pages of the book itself. Most writers ultimately write either about what they love or what they hate. I love the Pre-Raphaelites. I love the Tudors and Elizabethans, as well. These were pioneers and revolutionaries who proudly celebrated the golden ages of English culture in which they lived. Why not take a look inside the Arrow Chest sometime - and see if you agree? It’s rather exciting, too, in parts – and nowhere near as dark and scary as it sounds.
His debut novel, 'VIRGIN AND THE CRAB' first appeared in 2009, and his 2nd novel 'THE ARROW CHEST' was published in January 2011. Both are available in Paperback and on Kindle.