God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible (Paperback)

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No book is without an agenda. The King James Bible was created to reconcile the warring religious factions in Jacobean England, with enough baroque literary flourishes to make people want to read it. Then, when people didn’t want to read it, the crown simply banned competing bibles. With an appreciation of both the beauty of the book and the heated debates that produced it, Nicolson tells the story of the all-time bestseller that made our language what it is today.

— From Rory's Picks

Description


NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

“This scrupulously elegant account of the creation of what four centuries of history has confirmed is the finest English-language work of all time, is entirely true to its subject: Adam Nicolson’s lapidary prose is masterly, his measured account both as readable as the curious demand and as dignified as the story deserves.”  — Simon Winchester, author of Krakatoa

In God's Secretaries, Adam Nicolson gives a fascinating and dramatic account of the era of the King James Bible and its translation, immersing us in an age whose greatest monument is not a painting or a building but a book.

A network of complex currents flowed across Jacobean England. This was the England of Shakespeare, Jonson, and Bacon; the era of the Gunpowder Plot and the worst outbreak of the plague. Jacobean England was both more godly and less godly than the country had ever been, and the entire culture was drawn taut between these polarities. 

This was the world that created the King James Bible. It is the greatest work of English prose ever written, and it is no coincidence that the translation was made at the moment "Englishness," specifically the English language itself, had come into its first passionate maturity. The English of Jacobean England has a more encompassing idea of its own scope than any form of the language before or since. It drips with potency and sensitivity. The age, with all its conflicts, explains the book.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

About the Author


Adam Nicols on is the author of Seamanship, God's Secretaries, and Seize the Fire. He has won both the Somerset Maugham and William Heinemann awards, and he lives with his family at Sissinghurst Castle in England.

Praise For…


“This scrupulously elegant account of the creation of what four centuries of history has confirmed is the finest English-language work of all time, is entirely true to its subject: Adam Nicolson’s lapidary prose is masterly, his measured account both as readable as the curious demand and as dignified as the story deserves.” — Simon Winchester, author of Krakatoa

“So few documents have survived this labor—apart, of course, from the translation itself—that piecing together the tale is at least as much a matter of intelligent guesswork as of hard research. This is what Adam Nicolson has done, and he has done it extraordinarily well.” — Washington Post Book World

“This book is studded with intriguing information and answers to scholarly questions…. Nicolson frequently extols the eloquence, breadth, inclusiveness and beauty of the King James translation. He even connects the dots that lead from this majestic Bible to the contemporaneous King Lear.” — Janet Maslin, New York Times

“Adam Nicolson’s re-creation of this context is beyond praise. In God’s Secretaries he brings off a brilliant freehand portrait of an England more rich yet insecure, more literate yet superstitious, more urban yet still rural in rhythm, more unified yet riven with factions.” — Christopher Hitchens, New York Times Book Review

“Nicolson tells the King James Version’s story so well that his book may prove to be the King James Version’s indispensable companion for years to come.” — Booklist (Starred Review)

“Nicolson makes that far-away world fresh for today’s readers. And he makes the King James Bible seem all the more remarkable-for being the product of a divided age, when grudging cooperation led to a masterpiece of faith and prose.” — Wall Street Journal

“A wonderful example of what the determined researcher can find and use where the less diligent or imaginative see only deficiency….Nicolson’s greatest gift is his ability to portray the vibrant characters of the men responsible for the unfolding of this story.” — Weekly Standard

“An astonishingly rich cultural tour of the art, architecture, personalities and experiences of Jacobean England: high and low entertainment, high and low churchmanship, courtiers, schoolmasters and ecclesiastics. [Nicolson’s] picture is beguilingly full.” — Times Literary Supplement (London)

“Humanely erudite, elegantly written, passionately felt....[Nicolson] is a skilled storyteller, and he compacts large amounts of research into alluring anecdotal packets.” — James Wood, The New Yorker

“In fewer than 250 pages [God’s Secretaries] places the King James Version in historical context, brings vividly to life many of those who worked on it, gives a plausible account of how the task was accomplished, and conveys in Nicolson’s own passionate prose the full grandeur of the translation.” — Chicago Sun-Times



Product Details
ISBN: 9780060838737
ISBN-10: 0060838736
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2005
Pages: 336
Language: English