Blake: Complete Writings with Variant Readings

Blake: Complete Writings with Variant Readings

Blake: Complete Writings with Variant Readings

Blake: Complete Writings with Variant Readings

Synopsis


"An edition of Blake edited with extraordinary attention to detail. Essential."--Norman Weinstein,Boise State University
"For students and scholars alike Sir Geoffrey's edition of the Complete Writings remains the most readily accessible of all reliable collections of Blake."--George Mills Harper,Florida State University

Excerpt

William Blake was born two hundred years ago on November 28 1757, and died at the age of seventy on August 12 1827. Many people at the present time share the opinion that he was one of the greatest of Englishmen, his contribution to the art and literature of his country being of the very highest order. Certainly no artist has ever brought to his creative work a deeper assurance of the importance of imaginative art in human affairs, and none has dedicated his life and spirit more completely to his allotted task--the expression of his message with pen, graver, and paint-brush.

Blake suffered neglect and even ridicule during his life, and was almost forgotten for nearly forty years after his death; but in 1863 the publication of Alexander Gilchrist Life brought his work again to notice and initiated the growth of an interest which has spread far beyond the confines of his country and seems to be for ever growing. Nevertheless it was many years before this heightened sense of Blake's powers as a writer produced a scholar determined to present his poems as he wrote them. His earlier editors tended to abuse their office by insufficient attention to accuracy of transcription or by actually falsifying the text. Not until 1905, when the late Dr John Sampson published his Oxford edition of the Poetical Works, was a proper standard of Blake scholarship established. Even then this was restricted to the shorter poems; the symbolic epics, which Blake himself would have regarded as his major works, being excluded. in 1925 the Nonesuch Press decided to render to Blake the justice that he deserved by publishing the entire body of his writings as they were then known, with every variation and deletion recorded as completely as possible. As editor, I attempted to emulate Sampson's scholarship by working wherever possible from original sources and by careful attention to accurate transcription. the three illustrated volumes embodying the results of this very extensive piece of research have remained as a tribute to Blake's genius which has not been superseded, though their rather monumental character has to some extent defeated their purpose. the high cost and limitation of the size of the edition has prevented their reaching much of the public for whom they were intended. A

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