The Revelation of Imagination

Paper Text – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3182-8

E-book – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3120-0

Cloth Text – $99.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3119-4
Publication Date
August 2015
Page Count
424 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Revelation of Imagination

From Homer and the Bible through Virgil and Augustine to Dante
William Franke

In The Revelation of Imagination, William Franke attempts to focus on what is enduring and perennial rather than on what is accommodated to the agenda of the moment. Franke’s book offers re-actualized readings of representative texts from the Bible, Homer, and Virgil to Augustine and Dante. The selections are linked together in such a way as to propose a general interpretation of knowledge. They emphasize, moreover, a way of articulating the connection of humanities knowledge with what may, in various senses, be called divine revelation. This includes the sort of inspiration to which poets since Homer have typically laid claim, as well as that proper to the biblical tradition of revealed religion. The Revelation of Imagination invigorates the ongoing discussion about the value of humanities as a source of enduring knowledge.

About the Author

WILLIAM FRANKE is a professor of comparative literature and religious studies at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and a professor of philosophy and religions at the University of Macao in China.


“William Franke’s The Revelation of Imagination will be regarded as a threshold event within the Humanities.” --Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Albert Guérard Professor in Literaure, Stanford University

"This is one of those rare and wonderful books that reflects a lifetime of learning and thinking. It is at once a powerful mediation upon five literary bulwarks of the Western tradition and a philosophical argument about the meaning of world-shaping literature... The Revelation of Imagination amply demonstrates why Homer, the writers of the Bible, Virgil, Augustine, and Dante have been invaluable and inexhaustible conduits for the revelations of the human imagination. There is not a page where William Franke’s ability to enter into the crafting and language of the work he is discussing does not profoundly enrich one’s appreciation of the text. That he is able to take works and writers of whom so much has been written and yet make the reader feel how much more there is still to say and see, how inexhaustibly open these works are, is testimony to the mastery of his craft." --Wayne Cristaudo, The European Legacy 

"Franke's book is a joy to read. He writes with eloquence, grace, and verve. . .  The Revelation of Imagination is a brilliant study of formative works that should never lose our attention.  Indeed, the book itself  is ‘revelatory.’”—Peter S. Hawkins, Professor of Religion and Literature, Yale Divinity School

“Franke is an eminent scholar . . .  The Revelation of Imagination is every bit the strong scholarly work...The extreme clarity and accessibility of the text, however, open it to a much wider audience than the scholarly academic community. Anyone interested in learning about the great texts Franke treats in the book will find it a wonderful reading guide. Each chapter could be read alone as an aid to understanding a specific text, but taken as a whole they offer a finely woven argument regarding the revelatory nature of great literature. While Franke’s approach is post-secular in that it is open to and encourages finding transcendent meaning in literature, this work is literary rather than religious and would be useful even to those who do not adhere to a faith tradition." —Rachel Dark, Christianity and Literature

"The Revelation of Imagination: From Homer and the Bible through Virgil and Augustine to Dante is a book that will greatly assist any professor who teaches in a humanities or Great Text curriculum, and will enrich the understanding of anyone who wishes to read the classic primary texts that Franke so finely introduces and analyzes. He is lucid writer and a careful scholar (especially impressive is his knowledge of European scholarship on these works). It is a learned work, and belongs on a shelf that includes Auerbach’s Mimesis. The book is well organized into five main chapters of equal length (each long, but every page is justified), and unified in its attention to recurring themes: the human acceptance of limits; the relation between transcendence and human freedom; the relational nature of knowing; and, above all, the idea reflected in the book’s title, that the human poetic imagination can be the site of transcendent revelation. In returning to these themes, the reader of Franke’s book comes away with a sense of the differences and connections among these works, but also a sense of the “wholeness” of the tradition so eloquently discussed in Franke’s conclusion.  The book itself is best read chapter by chapter, with the primary text close at hand. But, upon completion, the book does form a unified whole. It also makes a persuasive case for the way in which classic humanities texts can be reinterpreted and lived anew by a contemporary reader." —Paul Contino, Blanche E. Seaver Professor of Humanities, Pepperdine University