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The Center of the World by Thomas Van Essen - Excerpt

The Center of the World by Thomas Van Essen - Excerpt

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Published by otherpress
Alternating between nineteenth-century England and present-day New York, this is the story of renowned British painter J. M. W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers. It is also the story of Henry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-end job, who finds his life transformed by his discovery of Turner’s The Center of the World, a mesmerizing and unsettling painting of Helen of Troy that was thought to have been lost forever.
This painting has such devastating erotic power that it was kept hidden for almost two centuries, and was even said to have been destroyed...until Henry stumbles upon it in a secret compartment at his summer home in the Adirondacks. Though he knows it is an object of immense value, the thought of parting with it is unbearable: Henry is transfixed by its revelation of a whole other world, one of transcendent light, joy, and possibility.
Back in the nineteenth century, Turner struggles to create The Center of the World, his greatest painting, but a painting unlike anything he (or anyone else) has ever attempted. We meet his patron, Lord Egremont, an aristocrat in whose palatial home Turner talks freely about his art and his beliefs. We also meet Elizabeth Spencer, Egremont’s mistress and Turner’s muse, the model for his Helen. Meanwhile, in the present, Henry is relentlessly trailed by an unscrupulous art dealer determined to get his hands on the painting at any cost. Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly textured novel explores the intersection between art and eroticism.
Alternating between nineteenth-century England and present-day New York, this is the story of renowned British painter J. M. W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers. It is also the story of Henry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-end job, who finds his life transformed by his discovery of Turner’s The Center of the World, a mesmerizing and unsettling painting of Helen of Troy that was thought to have been lost forever.
This painting has such devastating erotic power that it was kept hidden for almost two centuries, and was even said to have been destroyed...until Henry stumbles upon it in a secret compartment at his summer home in the Adirondacks. Though he knows it is an object of immense value, the thought of parting with it is unbearable: Henry is transfixed by its revelation of a whole other world, one of transcendent light, joy, and possibility.
Back in the nineteenth century, Turner struggles to create The Center of the World, his greatest painting, but a painting unlike anything he (or anyone else) has ever attempted. We meet his patron, Lord Egremont, an aristocrat in whose palatial home Turner talks freely about his art and his beliefs. We also meet Elizabeth Spencer, Egremont’s mistress and Turner’s muse, the model for his Helen. Meanwhile, in the present, Henry is relentlessly trailed by an unscrupulous art dealer determined to get his hands on the painting at any cost. Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly textured novel explores the intersection between art and eroticism.

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Publish date: Jun 4, 2013
Added to Scribd: May 14, 2013
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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11/04/2014

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Copyright © 2012 by Thomas Van EssenProduction Editor: Yvonne E. CárdenasText Designer: Jennier Daddio/Bookmark Design and Media Inc.This book was set in 11.65 pt Deepdeneby Alpha Design & Composition o Pittseld, NH.1 3 5 9 10 8 6 4 2All rights reserved. No part o this publication may be reproduced ortransmitted in any orm or by any means, electronic or mechanical, includingphotocopying, recording, or by any inormation storage and retrieval system,without written permission rom Other Press LLC, except in the case o brie quotations in reviews or inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.Printed in the United States o America on acid-ree paper.For inormation write to Other Press LLC, 2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor,New York, NY 10016. Or visit our Web site: www.otherpress.comLibrary o Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data TKPublisher’s Note:This is a work o ction. Names, characters, places, and incidents eitherare the product o the author’s imagination or are used ctitiously, andany resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, orlocales is entirely coincidental.
 
. . . no man ever painted or ever will paint well anything butwhat he has early and long seen, early and long elt, and earlyand long loved.
 john
 
ruskin
,
modern
 
painters
. . . here his intention seems to have been one o private gratifca-tion rather than preparation or a more developed work.
ann
 
chumbley
 
and
 
ian
 
warrell
,
Turner and the HumanFigure: Studies o Contemporary Lie,
 
discussing
 
turner
'
s
 
sheet
 
of
 
erotic
 
figure
 
subjects
 
c
. 1805”
It is no discredit or Trojans and well-greaved Achaeansto suer long anguish or a woman like that.
Homer, Iliad
,
translated
 
by
 
anne
 
carson
 

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