Paul Johnson looks at writers from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Mark Twain and T. S. Eliot, artists like Dürer, and architects such as Pugin and Viollet-le-Duc.

He explains the different ways in which Jane Austen, Madame de Stael, and George Eliot struggled to make their voices heard in the masculine hubbub. Victor Hugo allows him to ask, “Can imaginative genius coexist with low intelligence?” Johann Sebastian Bach gives him the opportunity to focus on the role of genetics in creativity and to explore the strange world of the organ loft. Louis Comfort Tiffany takes him into the technology of glass-making and the tragic vagaries of aesthetic fashion. Some essays make illuminating comparisons: of Turner with his contemporary the Japanese master Hokusai, and of the two great dress designers, Balenciaga and Dior. The final essay examines those two inventive geniuses, Picasso and Disney, and asks which had the greater influence on the visual arts of the twentieth century — and beyond.

Paul Johnson believes that creation is a mysterious business that cannot be satisfactorily analyzed. But it can be illustrated in such a way as to bring out its salient characteristics. That is the purpose of this instructive and witty book.


“Creators is a splendidly idiosyncratic book, brooking no compromise and bristling with opinions.”


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