The Theology of William Blake

The Theology of William Blake

The Theology of William Blake

The Theology of William Blake

Excerpt

It has been said that to systematize Blake is to kill him. Whether or not I have been guilty of this crime is best left to the judgement of the reader, but in explanation of my object I should like to emphasize the obvious fact that no prose account of a poem can ever be taken as a substitute for the living verse. Yet such criticism and exposition may lead to a deeper understanding of what the poet has to say and therefore to a keener appreciation of his original utterance. If in some small measure I have achieved this, I shall have done all that I set out to do.

No student of Blake can fail to acknowledge his debt to Geoffrey Keynes, whose careful editing has so facilitated research. There have been numerous editions of Blake's writings, none of which agree on the line-numbering, owing to the fact that the order of the pages in his Prophetic books is frequently uncertain. I have therefore followed the standard one-volume edition by Geoffrey Keynes, first published in 1927, and I have reproduced Blake's irregular spelling and his peculiar use of capitals. I have deliberately given all the line references to Blake's works, and have carefully recorded my principal sources, for in pursuing my studies I found nothing more annoying than those many books about Blake which give not the slightest hint of the origin of their statements.

Of the many who have helped me in preparing this work I would like particularly to express my thanks to the Rev. Canon R. C. Mortimer who read the manuscript and made many useful suggestions, and also to the Rev. Canon L. Hodgson and Mr. H. M. Margoliouth, especially the latter, whose painstaking care was invaluable and who aided me to rectify numerous statements of error.

In conclusion I would acknowledge my gratitude to the Secretary and to the Delegates of the Clarendon Press, not only for accepting this work for publication but also for their patient assistance and expert guidance.

J. G. D.

LONDON, October, 1947 . . .

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