The Garden of Earthly Delights, as it's known in English, is part of a triptych, surrounded by wings of paradise and hell. Williams visits the painting daily in the Prado Museum in Madrid, reveling in the gestalt and concentrating on the nuances in the elaborate and extraordinarily detailed masterpiece. One day she'll devote hours inspecting the cavorting, joyous figures, "the blue pool of bathers standing thigh-high in the middle of the triptych," the cherries "flying in the air, dangling from the poles, dropped into the mouths of lovers." Another day she's there with binoculars, cataloguing the birds Bosch chose to place in the garden of earthly delights (she finds 35 of them, including the gadwall, the wagtail, the great white egret, and Tengmalm's owl--a bird who sings "poo-poo-poo," which she considers a bit of prime Bosch paradise humor). Her insight, however, is not limited to the painting. She looks inward and outward, her probing artistic analysis inspiring childhood memories, worldly observations, and universal questions about love and faith.
Williams's leap into Bosch's garden is an unusual blend of academic rigor and unfettered artistic license, studying the painter's world with erudite discipline, then soaring into lyric associations that'll charm your poetic soul or curdle your objective sensibilities, depending on the latitude you grant in works that mix art history with personal memoir and spiritual exploration. --Stephanie Gold --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
You need not being a devoted fan of Terry Tempest Williams or Bosch, but you must abandon all thoughts of literary "tradition" while you read this. Read morePublished on Aug. 11 2000
When do we ever take the time to stop and smell the roses, or to indulge our obsessions, or to give our inner voice the time it deserves? Read morePublished on Aug. 2 2000
After recently reading the powerful memoir Refuge, I was eager to read Leap, but I was very disappointed. Read morePublished on July 27 2000