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The Psalms of David Hardcover – March 20, 2001
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Of the scores of gift editions of the Book of Psalms, one of the strangest and most beautiful is The Psalms of David, with illuminations by James S. Freemantle. An Englishman born in India in 1859, Freemantle traveled widely in the Middle East during his years in the British Army before marrying a woman named Clara in 1906. Around the time they were married, Freemantle began work on this painstakingly rendered book as a gift for her. Nearly every page is filled with illustrations of magnificent Indian and Middle Eastern flora and fauna (including poinsettias, mimosas, canna lilies, kingfishers, storks, and pheasants) and of Brahmin temples and Christian and Jewish holy sites--even a gigantic iceberg. Almost 30 years after he began, Freemantle finished the book. In the foreword to this new edition (first published in 1982), Freemantle's son Stephen writes that his father was "not a religious man." Regardless of the precise nature of Freemantle's beliefs, his exuberant illuminations testify to his great love of his wife, of the world, and of the Psalms. --Michael Joseph Gross
About the Author
James S. Freemantle died in 1934, the year he finished The Psalms of David. It was many years later that his son, Stephen, decided to have it published.
Top customer reviews
reading a little difficult because there are notes included and you have to stop to read them and it interrupts the flow to me. That is why it is a book
for experienced readers. It is a remarkable tale of love for his new bride that caused James Freemantle to spend years creating this special gift for
his Christian wife though he himself was not. If you are a fan of the Psalms, you are in for a treat and a blessing.
The beauty and success of James Freemantle's work is that, for me, it projects a story. And it projects that story in full color Kodachrome! The words - I'm not exaggerating - literally dance on the page and rise and fall like Beethoven's Fifth. JF transformed the Psalms into a symphony. Just as music moves the soul, the artistry of the text moves mine. I'll tell you, it's stunning.
The background knowledge that it was a gift of love for his wife is absolutely compelling. Like a nested egg, the book is a gift within a gift within a gift.
As a rather personal comment, one of the universal challenges we face in life is finding role models. We look for examples of success so that we may walk the same path. Hard work, humility, reverence, sacrifice, and so on. I find that being able to appreciate the Psalms helps me appreciate the Psalmist, who in turn serves as a Role Model for Prayer. And not to editorialize, but I don't think I'm overstepping the bounds of a review to say that praying well is certainly a skill that would help us all succeed.
My only (2) critical comments are that some of the text can be difficult to read because the lettering is not dark enough, and some of the lettering can be a challenge to decipher. Neither comment is a problem, but it can break my concentration so that I need to reread the text.