Photo by the Tate Gallery, London and Art Resource, NY

ON THE COVER: The passionate bride of the Song of Songs awaits her lover in this detail from Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “The Beloved” (1865/6). (The painting appears in full in “The Song of Songs”) In “The Song of Songs: An Ode to Intimacy,” literary critic Robert Alter reconstructs how the biblical poet created the intimate world of the two lovers.