Angels have soared through Western culture and consciousness from Biblical to contemporary times. But what do we really know about these celestial beings? Where do they come from, what are they made of, how do they communicate and perceive?
A luminous book, it is illustrated with elaborate gilded grid poems by the ninth-century monk Hrabanus Maurus ... The saints, though, provide the book’s funnier and more alarming insights into human nature ... Weinberger wears his erudition with an understated elegance, and anyone who has read his political essays (which use the same wry method of collage) should find in these further-off horrors and follies a source of light relief.
Weinberger’s...a storyteller after Benjamin’s heart, and has no truck with functionalist explanations; he relishes the unverifiable and offers no rhyme or reason for what he is passing on. He doesn’t claim that saints’ stories help keep track of time or indeed that they have any purpose at all. His distinctive poetic method...is montage, but it has something in common with the cento form, in which a poem emerges from a collage of quotations, each of them unchanged in tself, but profoundly altered by the compiler’s selection, the harmony and dissonance produced by the repetitions and sequencing ... The effect is hilarious at times, but also puzzling and captivating: the gymnastics of human thought can be as spectacular as the art of a Simone Biles ... For all the stylish whimsy of this bizarre catalogue, its compiler can’t help but be seduced. Wallace Stevens’s enigmatic half-seen ‘necessary angel’ has eclipsed the Voltairean wag, and Weinberger has slipped back into the poetic calling.
Weinberger delivers a charming meditation on the nature of angels and saints, illustrated with gorgeous reproductions of the works of ninth century German Benedictine monk Hrabanus Maurus ... Weinberger concludes his consideration with a beautifully laid out 'angelology,' naming various angels and their powers ... The reproductions, scattered throughout the book, are full-color and invite the reader to contemplation. Academic and lay readers interested in Christian thought will enjoy Weinberger’s eclectic homage to angels and saints.