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The Six Gifts and Other Stories Retold from the Earthly Paradise
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1911. Influenced by Rossetti, Morris and his lifelong friend, Edward Burne-Jones, became the two most prominent members of a circle, which included the poet and historian Richard Watson Dixon, titled the Brotherhood. His love of medieval art and literature and his instinct for all that was beautiful in them were carried into practice (his 35-year career as decorative artist and furnisher effected an entire revolution in public taste), and the contrast between the conditions under which the masterpieces of medieval art were produced and the commercialism of the nineteenth century impelled him to his renunciation of distinctions of class and his fervent advocacy of the socialist cause as a master-workman. His voluminous poetry and prose, resorting for its inspiration to an elder day remote from the life around him, is, superficially, the work of a dreamer who seeks refuge from materialism in a world of visions. But, to Morris, his visions were capable of realization and formed the inspiration of an eminently practical life. The Earthly Paradise was written during a period when the business affairs of his rising firm called for his unwearied attention. The active and the contemplative life were, in him, not mutually opposed but complementary.
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