William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books

Overview

"If you know Blake's poems you're getting only half—or rather none of—the picture."—The New York Times
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 ...

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Overview

"If you know Blake's poems you're getting only half—or rather none of—the picture."—The New York Times
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.
Includes: Jerusalem; Songs of Innocence and of Experience; All Religions are One; There is No Natural Religion; The Book of Thel; The Marriage of Heaven and Hell; Visions of the Daughters of Albion; America a Prophecy; Europe a Prophecy; The Song of Los Milton a Poem; The Ghost of Abel; On Homers Poetry [and] On Virgil; Laocoon; The First Book of Urizen; The Book of Ahania; The Book of Los.

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Editorial Reviews

Christopher Benfey
This book makes a strong case that if you know Blake's poems you're getting only half—or rather none of—the picture.
New York Times
Christopher Benfey
This book makes a strong case that if you know Blake's poems you're getting only half—or rather none of—the picture. —New York Times
London Review of Books
Sumptuous facsimiles . . . glorious colored pages . . . like peeping into a furnace of light through a crack in the door.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Apr. 30) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500282458
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 350,314
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 11.70 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

David Bindman is a noted William Blake scholar.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2005

    Abook every Blake- and artlover needs

    Everyone who wants to read Blake shouldn't ignore his illuminations, even only for he purposely published his works entwined with illustrations. This book is maybe the only right way to really see what Blake wanted to communicate, in the way he chose

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2002

    Blake - The Complete Artist

    I had thought I was familiar with the work of William Blake; viewing his writings as half of his claim to fame, and his illustrations as the other half. But with this book I see that I was mistaken. If you have not seen the work of Blake as it was meant to be seen, then your understanding of his work cannot be complete. Here are his visions as Blake himself saw them. Both his writings and his artwork assume new dimensions and meaning when combined into their intended whole.

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    Posted July 13, 2010

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    Posted November 10, 2008

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