Emanuel Swedenborg is acknowledged today as one of the great thinkers of the eighteenth century and a pioneering figure in the history of Western thought. Described by Jorge Luis Borges as the most extraordinary man in recorded history, Swedenborg’s book Heaven and Hell has had a direct influence on William Blake, Honoré de Balzac, Gerard de Nerval, W B Yeats, S T Coleridge, Fyodor Dostoevsky, C G Jung and many others, and his theory of correspondences is rightly understood as one of the defining influences on Romantic and Symbolist thought. More recently, through the work of Czesław Miłosz, Italo Calvino, A S Byatt and Iain Sinclair, we see his name re-emerge in relation to ‘pyschogeography’, ‘historical realism’ and ‘magical realism’. This brief pocket biography, by award-winning author and biographer Peter Ackroyd, is the perfect introduction to Swedenborg and the first in a series of accessible introductory pocket books.
Peter Ackroyd is a broadcaster, essayist and one of the UK’s foremost biographers and novelists. He has written nearly 40 works of non-fiction, including studies on William Blake, T S Eliot and Isaac Newton, and nearly 20 works of fiction. Among his many awards and honours are the Booker Prize for Fiction (1988), the Somerset Maugham Award (1984) and the Whitbread Biography Award (1984). He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1984 and was awarded a CBE in 2003.