With notes on interpretive criticism 1910 to 1984
ISBN 978-0-86140-408-7 874pp.
The writings of William Blake were not understood by his contemporaries or the Victorians, and it was only in 1910, with the publication of Joseph Wicksteed's Blake's Vision of the Book of Job, that the long process of comprehending Blake's works seriously began.
Part 1 of the present work consists of twelve chapters that are primarily intended to lead the reader who has little or no acquaintance with Blake's more difficult works through all his books. These consist of Poetical Sketches, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, three early prose tractates, the eleven shorter prophetic books (including The Marriage of Heaven and Hell), the lyrics of the Pickering Manuscript, The Four Zoas, Milton, Jerusalem, The Gates of Paradise, The Ghost of Abel and Illustrations of The Book of Job.
The reader who wishes to explore a work more fully can proceed to Part II, where a headnote outlines the main scholarly views of its structure and meaning. The headnote for each book is followed by a survey, laid out line by line, of how such details as proper names, Blakean symbols, political allusions, and obscure phrases have been interpreted. Where there are engraved designs, these are covered in a comparable fashion. Part II will also be useful to those who want an overview of the interpretations of a particular work or passage and to readers interested in the evolution of twentieth-century understanding of Blake.
There are two indexes providing ready access to explanations of terms and proper names.
'Its nearly 900 pages comprise the most helpful overview of Blake's works and of Blake criticism I have ever come across... Highly recommended.' Bill Goldman in The Journal of the Blake Society
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HENRY SUMMERFIELD teaches in the Department of English at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. He is author of That Myriad-Minded Man, A Biography of G.W.Russell - 'AE', is General Editor of the Collected Works of G.W.Russell, and editor of A Selection from the Contributions to 'The Irish Homestead' by Russell. He is also author of An Introductory Guide to The Anathemata and the Sleeping Lord Sequence of David Jones.