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Poetry and Designs: Authoritative Texts, Illuminations in Color and Monochrome, Related Prose, Criticism

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This generous selection from Blake's poems, prose, notebooks, marginalia, and letters is accompanied by many of Blake's illuminations for his own works, some in full color. The spelling and punctuation have been modified for greater intelligibility to modern readers. Almost all of Blake's published writings are here, as well as most of his best shorter poems that remained This generous selection from Blake's poems, prose, notebooks, marginalia, and letters is accompanied by many of Blake's illuminations for his own works, some in full color. The spelling and punctuation have been modified for greater intelligibility to modern readers. Almost all of Blake's published writings are here, as well as most of his best shorter poems that remained in manuscript at his death, and much of his most energetic prose. Of Blake's major epics, Milton is printed in full, in its longest version; Jerusalem is represented by selection amounting to one third of the complete poem, and The Four Zoas by briefer excerpts. All the other poetic works are presented complete.


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This generous selection from Blake's poems, prose, notebooks, marginalia, and letters is accompanied by many of Blake's illuminations for his own works, some in full color. The spelling and punctuation have been modified for greater intelligibility to modern readers. Almost all of Blake's published writings are here, as well as most of his best shorter poems that remained This generous selection from Blake's poems, prose, notebooks, marginalia, and letters is accompanied by many of Blake's illuminations for his own works, some in full color. The spelling and punctuation have been modified for greater intelligibility to modern readers. Almost all of Blake's published writings are here, as well as most of his best shorter poems that remained in manuscript at his death, and much of his most energetic prose. Of Blake's major epics, Milton is printed in full, in its longest version; Jerusalem is represented by selection amounting to one third of the complete poem, and The Four Zoas by briefer excerpts. All the other poetic works are presented complete.

30 review for Poetry and Designs: Authoritative Texts, Illuminations in Color and Monochrome, Related Prose, Criticism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alok Mishra

    Well, there is something about Blake's poetry that can connect to every reader of his very easily. However, what I have been impressed with is the designs made by him and this edition by Norton - the authentic text as well as authentic designs. Norton editions often impress me! Well, there is something about Blake's poetry that can connect to every reader of his very easily. However, what I have been impressed with is the designs made by him and this edition by Norton - the authentic text as well as authentic designs. Norton editions often impress me!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Crompton

    This book has been on my shelves for about 40 years, but I had not read much of it, except for Songs of Innocence and Experience, until recently. The longer visionary poems scared me off - they seemed so strange. Well, strange they are, but they're also fascinating. I particularly enjoyed The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, with its "Proverbs of Hell." I'll be making up for my years of neglect by returning to this collection often. This book has been on my shelves for about 40 years, but I had not read much of it, except for Songs of Innocence and Experience, until recently. The longer visionary poems scared me off - they seemed so strange. Well, strange they are, but they're also fascinating. I particularly enjoyed The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, with its "Proverbs of Hell." I'll be making up for my years of neglect by returning to this collection often.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sam Fickling

    There are authors and then there are visionary authors, because no matter what you think of the word visionary it's relevant in this case. The 18th century English poet and artist William Blake, who I wouldn't say belonged to the Romantic school but to himself, as he was entirely responsible for his own style, can be safely identified with the second class: "I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Man's/I will not Reason & Compare: my business is to create." (Blake, 2007, p. 219). And There are authors and then there are visionary authors, because no matter what you think of the word visionary it's relevant in this case. The 18th century English poet and artist William Blake, who I wouldn't say belonged to the Romantic school but to himself, as he was entirely responsible for his own style, can be safely identified with the second class: "I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Man's/I will not Reason & Compare: my business is to create." (Blake, 2007, p. 219). And create he did. Few people were as intensely creative as Blake in his time, and the same holds true today. If anyone consciously knew they were an artist it was him. The second edition of 'Blake's Poetry and Designs', just one of the many Norton Critical Editions in the larger series, is a total literary vindication of this visionary status, bringing Blake's imaginative art, creative poetry and revealing letters together in one highly authoritative volume that also houses a preface, an introduction, footnotes, plates of Blake's artwork, literary criticism, a chronology of Blake's life, and a bibliography. The robust learning of editors Mary Lynn Johnson and John E. Grant, both amply qualified as notable Blake scholars, can't be denied here. In the sense of the layout of 'Poetry and Designs', one really gets an idea of how the written word and the visual picture cooperate creatively in Blake's work, since the man was fearless in breaking the 18th century art convention of keeping the former isolated from the latter. One only has to glance at the frontispiece of one of Blake's illuminated poems, so that of the lyrically wonderful but disturbing 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience', for example, to realise how he triumphed in combining, if not effectively coalescing, text and image to form a wholly novel medium of art, one that his contemporaries (Leigh Hunt among them), at their own loss, either wilfully ignored or vehemently attacked. Fortunately, I wasn't a part of that century, hence why I'm able to appreciate his genius in this space. Based on what I've read, Blake was a natural artist and had absolute artistic control over his own work, ranging from engraving or illustrating the works of individual writers to writing, printing, colouring and publishing his illuminated visions. A favourite Blake poem of mine is 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell', and it's beautifully set out in 'Poetry and Designs'. The late Jim Morrison of the 1960s American band The Doors took their name from the following line, much quoted and discussed today: "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite." (Blake, 2007, p. 75). It's such an absorbing read, especially philosophically, that I often had to reread many lines and passages. It was rewarding, though, for some of Blake's primary ideas are elucidated in 'The Marriage', with many of them presented in just one line (as the above quote shows). The text is quite small in it, not to mention in every other poem, so reading it definitely took time. I also took copious notes on it, as I did with every other illuminated work included in the book. I couldn't help myself. The informative introductions and footnotes to them in 'Poetry and Designs', the latter of which often explain open or veiled references to the Bible (a text Blake drew much inspiration from), assisted the writing of such notes. Other poems I took notes on were 'All Religions Are One/'There Is No Natural Religion', 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience', 'The Book of Thel' , 'Visions of the Daughters of Albion', 'America a Prophecy', 'Europe a Prophecy', 'The Song of Los', 'The Book of Urizen', 'The Book of Ahania', 'The Book of Los', 'Milton: A Poem', and 'Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion'. I was particularly puzzled by the last one: it was a dazzlingly wordy feast for the eyes. You have to see it and read it to believe it, I'd say. All of them were published in between the period of the late 1780s to the early 1820s, and 'Poetry and Designs' succeeds in bringing them to vivid life. What became apparent through slowly reading these poems wasn't only the intellectual and artistic development of Blake's poetic style, themes, thought, and meaning over time but the gradual emergence of a personal mythology, a little internal literary system full of powerful characters and symbols that, not unlike the nature of Tolkien's fictional universe in 'The Lord of the Rings' book series, came directly from his own imagination. And the imaginative quality of Blake's work, both in his art and poetry, can't be denied, as his imagination is arguably his best quality. (Note: this is an unfinished review).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lynda

    They called him mad,insane,and blasphemous. Like many geniuses, William Blake was long dead before he was appreciated. "Songs of Innocence" was the first work of his that I read. Over the years, I have read most of his works. There are some so rare, they are not available to the public. I really enjoyed this edition of his works and "designs". If you haven't read Blake's breathtaking poetry, please don't miss out on it. I think that you too will be drawn back over and over through the years. They called him mad,insane,and blasphemous. Like many geniuses, William Blake was long dead before he was appreciated. "Songs of Innocence" was the first work of his that I read. Over the years, I have read most of his works. There are some so rare, they are not available to the public. I really enjoyed this edition of his works and "designs". If you haven't read Blake's breathtaking poetry, please don't miss out on it. I think that you too will be drawn back over and over through the years.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Bielski

    I wrote some incredible papers on Blake in college.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Indispensable guide to one of the greatest and most misunderstood Romantic poets of all time. More here: [http://www.robertpeake.com/archives/1...] Indispensable guide to one of the greatest and most misunderstood Romantic poets of all time. More here: [http://www.robertpeake.com/archives/1...]

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kristopher

    I grossly underappreciated Blake's poetry before I slogged through all of it. He's easy to write off based on a superficial reading of his "Songs of Innocence and Experience." But it's the development of his thought and writing that is so astounding. Taken together, his life's work is an incredible testament to a highly individual mind writing at a time such individualism should have been wider appreciated. Blake is the great bridge between the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Blake is the great u I grossly underappreciated Blake's poetry before I slogged through all of it. He's easy to write off based on a superficial reading of his "Songs of Innocence and Experience." But it's the development of his thought and writing that is so astounding. Taken together, his life's work is an incredible testament to a highly individual mind writing at a time such individualism should have been wider appreciated. Blake is the great bridge between the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Blake is the great ur-Modernist.

  8. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    I appreciate Blake quite a bit for identifying "mind forg'd manacles" as an object of critique. This volume however offers a mere selection, and the effect is lost for much of it, as the images are mostly not reproduced. There is a selection of color plates, but this is not really the way to read Blake, who nevertheless should be read. Decent supplementals, though, in this Norton Critical. I appreciate Blake quite a bit for identifying "mind forg'd manacles" as an object of critique. This volume however offers a mere selection, and the effect is lost for much of it, as the images are mostly not reproduced. There is a selection of color plates, but this is not really the way to read Blake, who nevertheless should be read. Decent supplementals, though, in this Norton Critical.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Francis Berger

    I enjoyed this in university, but I enjoyed it even more now. Contrary to popular belief, age can make some things better.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Holden M. Rasmussen

    Singular.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aurélie

    3.5

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A very important poet.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tina Dalton

    William Blake received nominal recognition in his own lifetime, and when he did get attention it was often to call him a madman. Nowadays his work is widely regarded as genius, one of the most influential and talented of the Romantics, indeed of all British literature. I'd never read Blake before and didn't realize exactly what I was in for. I adored his "Songs of Innocence and Experience." Simply beautiful and so profound. I honestly struggled with most of the rest of what I read, particularly William Blake received nominal recognition in his own lifetime, and when he did get attention it was often to call him a madman. Nowadays his work is widely regarded as genius, one of the most influential and talented of the Romantics, indeed of all British literature. I'd never read Blake before and didn't realize exactly what I was in for. I adored his "Songs of Innocence and Experience." Simply beautiful and so profound. I honestly struggled with most of the rest of what I read, particularly "Milton". The edition I have includes many of his etchings and artwork, which in my opinion add a great deal to his writing. I may not have been able to absorb much of his theology, but I can see how profound it is/was and I'm glad I've learned more of this great man. An interesting side not: The His Dark Materials trilogy is heavily influenced by Blake's writings.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Juju

    This was a great text for this spring's course on Blake, containing most of his written work, helpful comments on the texts, a good selection of illustrations from his Illuminated books, and an interesting range of essays in the back, which often gave me a fresh perspective when I was feeling lost or overwhelmed. Overall, a really good way to study William Blake's written work, but especially insightful when read in conjunction with the actual Complete Illuminated Works edition. This was a great text for this spring's course on Blake, containing most of his written work, helpful comments on the texts, a good selection of illustrations from his Illuminated books, and an interesting range of essays in the back, which often gave me a fresh perspective when I was feeling lost or overwhelmed. Overall, a really good way to study William Blake's written work, but especially insightful when read in conjunction with the actual Complete Illuminated Works edition.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Blake himself is an unparalleled writer. This edition features all of his major poetry (except "Jerusalem" has only an excerpt), important essays he wrote, and letters to friends, as well as helpful annotations, introductions to each work, and a few insightful critical essays. If you want a good Blake experience for $20, check this out. Blake himself is an unparalleled writer. This edition features all of his major poetry (except "Jerusalem" has only an excerpt), important essays he wrote, and letters to friends, as well as helpful annotations, introductions to each work, and a few insightful critical essays. If you want a good Blake experience for $20, check this out.

  16. 4 out of 5

    alan hughs

    The joy of this book was Blake's talent as a painter. Some of the plates, although I didn't care for the constant religious imagery, were quite beautiful. The epic/balled style prose at age 55 leaves me cold. I simply have no more use for the "romantic individual striving against all odds" ethos. The joy of this book was Blake's talent as a painter. Some of the plates, although I didn't care for the constant religious imagery, were quite beautiful. The epic/balled style prose at age 55 leaves me cold. I simply have no more use for the "romantic individual striving against all odds" ethos.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Lived in this book for three months at OSU. Robert Frank, prof. Can't say Blake is or was one of my favorites, but this book and the prof made this madman very accessible. Still think he's a better mystic than a poet. Lived in this book for three months at OSU. Robert Frank, prof. Can't say Blake is or was one of my favorites, but this book and the prof made this madman very accessible. Still think he's a better mystic than a poet.

  18. 5 out of 5

    James

    I'm always revisiting this book so I might as well list it. Took it with me on our trip to England where we got to see some of his original drawings. Can't imagine not having this one within arms reach. I'm always revisiting this book so I might as well list it. Took it with me on our trip to England where we got to see some of his original drawings. Can't imagine not having this one within arms reach.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tina Romanelli

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Blake is brilliant. I'm totally enamored with his poetry and the criticism of that poetry. Blake is brilliant. I'm totally enamored with his poetry and the criticism of that poetry.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jana Peden

    Not a fan. Tried really hard to buy into it, but I just couldn't. Not a fan. Tried really hard to buy into it, but I just couldn't.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Archer

    recommended by f.fathi, just your average coffeehouse book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    jordan

    Something to be achieved.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    One of my most favorite poets of all time!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lance Cotton

    William Blake is the most intriguing poet I have ever read voluntarily.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    Always had a soft spot for Blake. His poetry is special, and my favourite especially is "The Age of Innocence". The first four lines are haunting but excellent. Always had a soft spot for Blake. His poetry is special, and my favourite especially is "The Age of Innocence". The first four lines are haunting but excellent.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Patton

    quirky ecstatic genius marginalia

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chris Kaeff

    Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Truxton

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sacha

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