Milton a Poem, and the Final Illuminated Works: The Ghost of Abel, On Homers Poetry, [and] On Virgil, Laoco÷n

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Princeton University Press, 1998 - Art - 286 pages
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The core of William Blake's vision, his greatness as one of the British Romantics, is most fully expressed in his Illuminated Books, masterworks of art and text intertwined and mutually enriching. Made possible by recent advances in printing and reproduction technology, the publication of new editions of Jerusalem and Songs of Innocence and of Experience in 1991 was a major publishing event. Now these two volumes are followed by The Early Illuminated Books and Milton, A Poem. The books in both volumes are reproduced from the best available copies of Blake's originals and in faithfulness and accuracy match the acclaimed standards set by Jerusalem and Songs. These two volumes are uniform in format and binding with the first two volumes.The Early Illuminated Books comprises All Religions Are One and There Is No Natural Religion; Thel; Marriage of Heaven and Hell; and Visions of the Daughters of Albion. Milton, A Poem, second only to Jerusalem in extent and ambition, is accompanied by Laocon, The Ghost of Abel, and On Homer's Poetry. The Illuminated Books of William Blake will be completed by the publication of a fifth volume, containing six more books, early in 1994.David Bindman is Durning-Lawrence Professor of the History of Art at University College, London. Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi are Professors of English at, respectively, University of Rochester, University of California at Riverside, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.From reviews of Jerusalem and Songs of Innocence and of Experience: "[Blake's] illuminated books, parables of earthly life, were peopled with fanciful creatures drawn from an elaborate invented mythology. Blake published theseworks himself, but his ambition to reach a wide audience was never realized. Now the William Blake Trust, in association with Princeton University Press, has initiated a five-volume facsimile series. . . . The first two volumes . . . are now available. Produced with meticulous care, each has a brief introduction. Each volume also contains exquisite reproductions of the original plates, a new transcription of Blake's text and scholarly but accessible plate-by- plate commentaries."--Andrea Barnet, The New York Times Book Review"The color printing is exceptional."--Lewis Segal, The Los Angeles Times Book Review"In every way this initial release is a triumph. The exquisite images and a lucid text of each volume endow not just Blake's work, but the relationships between word and image, with a crystalline clarity."--Eric Gibson, The Washington Times

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About the author (1998)

William Blake's poems, prophecies, and engravings represent his strong vision and voice for rebellion against orthodoxy and all forms of repression. Born in London in November 1757; his father, a hosier of limited means, could do little for the boy's education. However, when the young Blake's talent for design became apparent, his wise father sent him to drawing school at the age of 10. In 1771 Blake was apprenticed to an engraver. Blake went on to develop his own technique, a method he claimed that came to him in a vision of his deceased younger brother. In this, as in so many other areas of his life, Blake was an iconoclast; his blend of printing and engraving gave his works a unique and striking illumination. Blake joined with other young men in support of the Revolutions in France and America. He also lived his own revolt against established rules of conduct, even in his own home. One of his first acts after marrying his lifetime companion, Catherine Boucher, was to teach her to read and write, rare for a woman at that time. Blake's writings were increasingly styled after the Hebrew prophets. His engravings and poetry give form and substance to the conflicts and passions of the elemental human heart, made real as actual characters in his later work. Although he was ignored by the British literary community through most of his life, interest and study of his work has never waned. Blake's creativity and original thinking mark him as one of the earliest Romantic poets, best known for his Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794) and The Tiger. Blake died in London in 1827.

Mark Crosby is the Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen's University, Belfast. Robert N. Essick, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the University of California, Riverside, is the author of numerous books on William Blake.

JOSEPH VISCOMI is a PhD candidate in the interdisciplinary program in anthropology and history at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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