William Blake (1757 - 1827)
Related: Romanticism - fantastic art - symbolism - anarchism - British art
Blake was an important proponent of imagination as the modern western world currently defines the word. His belief that humanity could overcome the limitations of its five senses is perhaps one of Blake's greatest legacies. His words, "If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite," (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell) were seen as bizarre at the time, but are now accepted as part of our modern definition of imagination. This quote was the source of the names for both The Doors musical group and Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception.
The great red dragon and the woman clothed with the sun (c. 1800) - William Blake
William Blake (November 28, 1757- August 12, 1827) was an English poet, mystic, painter and printmaker, or "Author & Printer," as he signed many of his books. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake [Jan 2005]
William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books (2004) - William Blake
William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books (2004) - William Blake [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
From Publishers Weekly
Editions of Blake's poetry which as an artist and printer he frequently engraved and published himself most often fail to reproduce his integral illustrations, or do so in poor enough quality as to negate the effort. This Complete edition from the Blake Trust, published last year in a Thames and Hudson hardback edition that is now out of print, should replace the b&w-only Dover edition (but not David V. Erdman's commentary therein, or his reading text The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake) for any reader. The 366 crisp color and 30 b&w reproductions here, culled from the scholarly Princeton University Press six-volume annotated set, are little short of a revelation, giving us Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, America, Milton, Jerusalem and the rest of the Blake canon in a form acceptably close, as Binder's introduction makes clear, to the way Blake wanted us to see them. Many of these works are currently hanging in a special Blake exhibition the largest ever at the Met in New York, for which the Abrams book serves as an informative and revealing catalogue. Hamlyn, a senior curator at London's Tate (where the exhibition originated), and the University of York's Phillips present prints, drawings, paintings, selections from Blake's own illuminated books and other relevant materials, such as snapshots from Blake's marvelous editions of Edward Young's Night Thoughts and Thomas Gray's Poems. Introductory essays from novelist and biographer Peter Ackroyd (Blake; T.S. Eliot) and Marilyn Butler, rector of Oxford's Exeter College, synopsize Blake's life and times, while extensive "label copy" situates each work as presented. While the visual overview is useful and some of the detail shots of larger works are compelling, poetry readers who have to choose will take the Complete. --Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
In his Illuminated Books, William Blake combined text and imagery on a single page in a way that had not been done since the Middle Ages. For Blake, religion and politics, intellect and emotion, mind and body were both unified and in conflict with each other: his work is expressive of his personal mythology, and his methods of conveying it were integral to its meaning. There is no comparison with reading books such as Jerusalem, America, and Songs of Innocence and of Experience in Blake's own medium, infused with his sublime and exhilarating colors. Tiny figures and forms dance among the lines of the text, flames appear to burn up the page, and dense passages of Biblical-sounding text are brought to a jarring halt by startling images of death, destruction, and liberation. Blake's hope that his books would obtain wide circulation was unfulfilled: some exist only in unique copies and none was printed in more than very small numbers. Now, for the first time, the plates from the William Blake Trust's Collected Edition have been brought together in a single volume, with transcripts of the texts and an introduction by the noted scholar David Bindman. A major retrospective exhibition of Blake's work can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (March-June 2001). 400 color illustrations.
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