Right from the start I need to chime in and tell you that this is not a work of fiction nor is it a novel nor is it an in depth study of the history of the Book of Kells. No, what this is is an essay using The Book of Kells as its subject matter. But this is a good thing, in particular since it is a very, very well written essay and I do love a good essay no matter the subject matter. Good writing is becoming a rare commodity these days and when we find a bit of it we need to grasp it closely.
Now in my case, I love medieval history and I am especially fond of The Book of Kells as I am into art of that era also. As a matter of fact, journeying to Ireland and viewing the original is one of the items on my "bucket list." I have, over the years, marveled over this wonderful book and have seen some great reproductions. These reproductions though cannot replace the original. I will state most emphatically though that I will never gaze upon the wonderful illustrations in this book again and see them through the same eyes after I read this essay by Simon Worrall...this guy can write! This guy can make you think! What wonderful gifts.
The author does go over the history of the creation of this magnificent work of art but that is almost secondary as the information he shares can be found elsewhere. No, it is the way the author tells us the story that is important. Had this work been in the form of poetry we would call it an ode. As it stands the author's prose takes us completely into the world of the book and we actually feel it as the author writes. Even when technical aspects such as color, drawing techniques and the like are address, it is presented in an almost poetic manner. I must admit that as to the colors used by those old monks I learned much from this essay.
Worrall closes this work on a speculative note as to where we came from as a society, where we are now and where we are going. I suppose I found this particularly beautiful simply because I feel the same as the author and most certainly agree with his speculations...have for quite some time now.
This is a short work and most can read it in less than thirty minutes. If I may suggest though, take your time, savor the words, contemplate the thoughts and revel in the written words...folks, take a couple of hours to digest this one and then turn around and read it again. Trust me; you are in for a wonderful treat!