William Blake: A Selective Research Bibliography

Stephen C. Behrendt, Spring 2002

 

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EDITIONS
FACSIMILES
REPRODUCTIONS AND FACSIMILES OF THE ILLUMINATED POETRY
REFERENCE WORKS
ELECTRONIC RESOURCES
BIOGRAPHIES
BLAKE AS A VISUAL ARTIST: REFERENCE WORKS
BLAKE AS A VISUAL ARTIST: CRITICAL WORKS
BLAKE AS A LITERARY ARTIST
IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS OF ESSAYS

 

 

EDITIONS

EDITIONS

Blake's Illuminated Books, David Bindman, General Editor. 6 vols. Princeton: The William Blake Trust and Princeton University Press, 1991-95. High-quality facsimile editions, with editorial commentary and full historical and bibliographical apparatus. Individual volumes are as follows:

  • Vol. 1: Jerusalem, ed. Morton Paley (1991).
  • Vol. 2: Songs of Innocence and of Experience, ed. Andrew Lincoln (1991).
  • Vol. 3: The Early Illuminated Books, ed. Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi (1993).
  • Vol. 4: The Continental Prophecies, ed. D. W. Dörrbecker (1995).
  • Vol. 5: Milton, ed. Robert N. Essick and Joseph Viscomi (1993).
  • Vol. 6: The Urizen Books, ed. David Worrall (1995).

The Complete Writings of William Blake, with Variant Readings, ed. Geoffrey Keynes. London: Oxford University Press, 1966. Corrected edition, 1979. The entries in Erdman's printed Concordance are keyed to the pages in this edition, which must be used to locate passages before cross-referencing them in Erdman's Complete Poetry and Prose.

The Letters of William Blake, ed. Geoffrey Keynes. 1956. 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980. Like the above, this edition is superseded by Erdman's Complete Poetry and Prose.

The Poems of William Blake, ed. W. H. Stevenson, with text by David V. Erdman. London: Longman, 1971; New York: Norton, 1972. An annotated edition, although the annotations are eclectic and frequently unreliable. A second edition is available: Blake: The Complete Poems. New York: Longman, 1989.

William Blake's Writings, ed. G. E. Bentley, Jr. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978. Includes numerous illustrations of the illuminated works and considerable useful critical commentary.

The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, ed. David V. Erdman, with a commentary by Harold Bloom. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1982. Supersedes Erdman's earlier Poetry and Prose (1965). This is now the definitive edition of both the poetry and the prose, including the letters; this is the edition to which to key textual references. See also the electronic edition available at http://virtual.park.uga.edu/~wblake/eE.html.

William Blake, ed. Michael Mason. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. A "modernized" version which, as is the case with all such editorial monsters, misrepresents Blake's texts and needlessly complicates the already fiendish complexities of Blake's texts.

 

FACSIMILES

FACSIMILES

The Notebook of William Blake: A Photographic and Typographic Facsimile, ed. David V. Erdman and Donald K. Moore. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973; Revised version, New York: Readex Books, 1977.

The Pickering Manuscript of William Blake, ed. Charles Ryskamp. New York: Pierpont Morgan Library, 1972.

Vala, or The Four Zoas: A Facsimile of the Manuscript, A Transcription of the Poem, and a Study of Its Growth and Significance, ed. G. E. Bentley, Jr. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963.

An Island in the Moon, ed. Michael Phillips. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

 

REPRODUCTIONS AND FACSIMILES OF THE ILLUMINATED POETRY

REPRODUCTIONS AND FACSIMILES OF THE ILLUMINATED POETRY

The best facsimiles are those issued in hand-colored limited editions by the Trianon Press, Paris, for the Blake Trust during 1950-1976. Geoffrey Keynes oversaw the publication of these facsimiles of all eighteen of Blake's illuminated books. These editions probably come as close to Blake's originals as is possible with any sort of "mass-production" technology, however cumbersome or limited.

The Trianon Press has also issued, again for the Blake Trust, some of Blake's illustrations to the Bible (1957), to Thomas Gray's poetry (1972), to Dante's Divine Comedy (1978).

Various other full-color facsimile editions exist, including the Songs of Innocence and of Experience and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell in relatively good editions published by Oxford University Press. America: A Prophecy and Europe: A Prophecy have been published together by Dover Press, although the glossy paper misrepresents the effect of Blake's pages. The same problem besets the facsimiles of The Book of Urizen and Milton published by Shambhala (Random House). Dover has also published separate copies of Songs of Innocence (an early copy), Songs of Experience, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and The Book of Urizen. The Book of Thel was published in facsimile, with a critical and bibliographical commentary by Nancy Bogen, by Brown University Press in association with the New York Public Library (1971).

Princeton University Press, in conjunction with the Tate Gallery, London, and the William Blake Trust has published a new series of facsimiles, 1991-95. These are extremely high quality facsimiles, super-illustrated and accompanied by detailed bibliographical and critical apparatus. For individual volumes, dates, and editors, see "Editions," above. The facsimile pages from these volumes have now been collected and published in a single volume, with minimal letterpress, as William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books, ed. David Bindman. London: Thames and Hudson, 2001.

Still other facsimiles exist, including a number of photographic facsimiles published by Dent and Sons: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1927). The Book of Urizen (1929), Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1932), and the illustrations to the Book of Job (1937). Other hand-colored "facsimiles" were prepared early in this century under the direction of William Muir; both the coloring and the overall appearance of these copies are unreliable indicators of Blake's originals.

A useful guide to the illuminated pages is The Illuminated Blake: All of William Blake's Illuminated Works with a Plate-by-Plate Commentary, ed. David V. Erdman. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974. Erdman surveys most of the copies and itemizes variants in the visual details of the discrete copies. His "descriptions," however, are often speculative rather than objective, and are occasionally informed more by enthusiasm than by accuracy of observation.


REFERENCE WORKS

REFERENCE WORKS

Bentley, G. E., Jr. Blake Books: Annotated Catalogues of William Blake's Writings in Illuminated Printing, in Conventional Typography and in Manuscript. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977. Catalogues all Blake's writings in illuminated printing, conventional typography, and in manuscript, as well as reproductions. Also catalogues the following: books with Blake's engravings and illustrations, catalogues, books owned by Blake (including books owned by "the wrong William Blake"!), and scholarly and critical works about Blake.

-----. Blake Books Supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995. Updates the previous source through 1995.

Damon. S. Foster. A Blake Dictionary: The Ideas and Symbols of William Blake. Revised edition, with a new foreword and annotated bibliography by Morris Eaves. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1988. This old but still valuable dictionary (for those who are not made uncomfortable by this sort of reductivist approach to Blake) was compiled by the greatest of the early American Blake scholars. This revised and updated edition contains a particularly useful index by Morris Eaves.

Erdman, David V., with John E. Thiesmeier, Richard J. Wolfe, et al. A Concordance to the Writings of William Blake. 2 vols. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967. Spectacularly useful, as concordances generally are. The only trick involved here is that the references are keyed (owing to the early date) not to Erdman's definitive edition but rather to the Geoffrey Keynes (Oxford Standard Authors) edition of Blake's works. A useful alternative for the Internet-literate is an electronic edition prepared (with Erdman's blessing) from the bound originals. See http://virtual.park.uga.edu/Blake_Concordance/.

Johnson, Mary Lynn, and John E. Grant, eds. Blake's Poetry and Designs. New York: W. W. Norton, 1979. A Norton Critical Edition, most appropriate for "beginners."

Natoli, Joseph P. Twentieth-Century Blake Criticism: Northrop Frye to the Present. New York and London: Garland, 1982. Useful annotated bibliography, although the organization is a bit eccentric.

BLAKE: An Illustrated Quarterly. This superbly illustrated quarterly publishes annual bibliographies of books, articles, monographs, and reviews about Blake and the members of his circle. It also includes a detailed, annotated annual bibliography of studies relating to Blake and his circle: "Blake and His Circle: A Checklist of Recent Scholarship."



ELECTRONIC RESOURCES

ELECTRONIC RESOURCES

The William Blake Archive. http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/blake/
This is the staring-point for all electronic research into the verbal and visual work of William Blake. This is an evolving research site that aims eventually to contain in electronic form all the various individual copies of all of Blake's illuminated works. A growing number of these have now been mounted on the site, together with sophisticated tools for searching and manipulating the verbal and visual texts. The site also contains links to other Blake sites, to bibliographical materials, and to electronic versions of such central reference works as Erdman's Complete Poetry and Prose and his Concordance.

The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. http://www.english.uga.edu/nhilton/Blake/blaketxt1/
This is the 1988 revised edition of Erdman's definitive text, prepared with Erdman's permission and cooperation. The site also includes a link to the fully searchable Concordance to Blake's writings.

Concordance to Blake's Writings. http://www.english.uga.edu/Blake_Concordance/
Fully searchable electronic concordance.

Blake Web. http://cid.omaha.edu/~wwwengl/blakeweb/
A private Blake website with a large variety of references and links to verbal and visual materials.

Timeline of Blake's Life, Art, and Literary Works. http://camel2.conn.coll.edu/ccacad/english/Blake/timeline.html
This is a decent website, arranged chronologically, that traces Blake's deve;lopment within the context of his times. There are multiple links to verbal; and visual resources.

The Voice of the Shuttle. http://vos.ucsb.edu/
This is the preeminent site for all resources in the Humanities, including literary and cultural studies and the arts. The array of links is daunting, but the site is very well organized. It also includes resources like mapmakers, translation programs, directories, encyclopedias, and links to links -- including links to courses and syllabi from other institutions. The English studies page, which is subdivided by period, can be accessed directly at http://vos.ucsb.edu/english.html. The Romantics sub-site is at http://vos.ucsb.edu/eng-rom.html.

The Romanticism Chronology. http://vos.ucsb.edu/projects/pack/rom-chrono/chrono.htm
As the title and site indicate, this is a sub-site within The Voice of the Shuttle. It is a fully detailed chronology of the Romantic period, with extensive links to other sites devoted to individual figures, events, and phenomena of the English Romantic period, including texts (including full-length books) and visual works in the arts. It can be searched by date, year, or sub-period.

The Regency Fashion Page. http://locutus.ucr.edu/~cathy/reg3.html
This quite wonderful site facilitates access to a remarkable variety of visual materials relating to clothing and other articles of domestic life during the Romantic period generally and the Regency (c. 1810-1820) in particular.

 

BIOGRAPHIES

BIOGRAPHIES

Ackroyd, Peter. Blake (alternative title, Blake: A Biography). London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995. This brilliant, eminently readable biography sets a new standard for Blake biography. Ackroyd reads Blake's works perceptively; more important, though, he presents an engaging, accessible, and credible picture of the man and the cultural context for his works in the various artistic media in which Blake worked. Essential reading.

Bentley, G. E., Jr. Blake Records. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969. This is more a collection of "raw materials" than an actual biography. It attempts to document, among other things, all references to Blake by his contemporaries.

-----. Blake Records Supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988. What the title suggests.

Davis, Michael. William Blake: A New Kind of Man. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. Most readable: a tremendously enthusiastic book that argues that Blake virtually loses control of what he's doing by the later books. Note the total absence of the normal documentation apparatus (footnotes and such). Readable--but under no circumstances to be trusted implicitly without reference to other biographies like the Ackroyd or the Wilson.

Dorfman, Deborah. Blake in the Nineteenth Century: His Reputation as a Poet from Gilchrist to Yeats. New Haven: Yale University Press. Good source material (and excellent documentation) on the later 19th-century view of Blake.

Gilchrist, Alexander. The Life of William Blake: Pictor Ignotus. London: Macmillan1863; second edition, 1880. Most often seen in the reprint edition edited by Ruthven Todd, (London: J. M. Dent, 1945), revised in 1945.

King, James. William Blake: His Life. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson; New York: St. Martin's, 1991. Superficial, unscholarly, and highly unreliable.

Lindsay, Jack. William Blake: His Life and Work. London: Constable, 1978; New York: George Braziller, 1979.

Margoliouth, H. M. William Blake. London: Oxford University Press, 1951.

Wilson, Mona. The Life of William Blake. London, 1927; revised by Geoffrey Keynes. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971. Until the appearance of Ackroyd's 1995 study, this was generally considered the "standard" biography, despite the interesting and generally more readable biographies by, especially, Michael Davis and Jack Lindsay. In the wake of Ackroyd, it remains an important source for close textual readings of Blake's writings within a biographical context.

Wittreich, Joseph Anthony, Jr., ed. Nineteenth Century Accounts of William Blake. Gainesville: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1970. Like the Dorfman above, a repository of earlier materials relating to Blake.


BLAKE AS A VISUAL ARTIST: REFERENCE WORKS

BLAKE AS A VISUAL ARTIST: REFERENCE WORKS

Bindman, David, assisted by Deirdre Toomey. The Complete Graphic Works of William Blake. London: Thames and Hudson, 1978.

Butlin, Martin. The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1981. The ultimate reference to Blake's visual works independent of the illuminated books. This splendid and meticulous set reproduces all known drawings and paintings by Blake. Many are in color, though there is occasionally some distortion in that color reproduction. Butlin's full art-historical data and commentary on each picture is a model of meticulous scholarship and largely non-intrusive interpretive commentary. For any sort of work with Blake's visual images, or with his characteristic themes, these volumes are a true goldmine of information.

Easson, Roger, and Robert N. Essick. William Blake: Book Illustrator. A Bibliography and Catalogue of the Commercial Engravings. American Blake Foundation, 1972 (Vol. I: Plates Designed and Engraved by Blake); 1979 (Vol II: Plates Designed or Engraved by Blake, 1774-1796). A third volume was originally projected, but is yet to appear. The quality of the reproductions in Vols, I and II is poor: the plates look much darker and coarser than the originals. Blake's engravings are usually very sharp and finely detailed, and this quality is largely lost in these volumes.

Essick, Robert N. William Blake's Commercial Book Illustrations: A Catalogue and Study of the Plates Engraved by Blake after Designs by Other Artists. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. A superb study that helps account for the relationships that may be seen between Blake's illuminated works and the commercial engraving by which he largely sustained himself. The nearly 300 illustrations provide a nearly complete record of Blake's work as a reproductive engraver. An essential reference work.

Damon, S. Foster. Blake's Job: William Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job. Providence: Brown University Press, 1966.

Erdman, David V., and John E. Grant, E. J. Rose, and Michael J. Tolley, eds. William Blake's Designs for Edward Young's "Night Thoughts": A Complete Edition. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979. Another vast storehouse of Blake's visual ideas, consisting of some 537 watercolor designs and sketches illustrating Young's deadly poem. Some of the designs were subsequently chosen by Blake's "editor" and engraved by Blake for an edition of the poem which was never completed in its entirety.

Essick, Robert N. and Jennijoy LaBelle, eds. Night Thoughts, or, The Complaint and the Consolation. With Blake's engraved illustrations, based upon the sketches in the above item.

Keynes, Geoffrey, ed. Engravings by William Blake: The Separate Plates. Dublin: Emery Walker, 1956
.
-----. William Blake's Water-Colour Designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray. Chicago, O'Hara, 1972. Over a hundred watercolor designs illustrating Gray's poetry, prepared by Blake for the wife of his friend John Flaxman, the artist and sculptor.

Lister, Raymond. Infernal Methods: A Study of William Blake's Art Techniques. London: Bell, 1975. An investigation of the mechanical-technical aspects of Blake's art, including the production of the illuminated books.

Roe, Albert S. Blake's Illustrations to the Divine Comedy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953. Dated, but still not superseded, even by Milton Klonsky's Blake's Dante.

Todd, Ruthven. William Blake: The Artist. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1971. Interesting account of Blake's techniques as a graphic artist, written by an artist who has experimented with those techniques as he has attempted to reconstruct them.

Viscomi, Joseph. Blake and the Idea of the Book. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. Essential reading for an understanding of the processes by which Blake produced his illuminate books. Viscomi also posits many new dates for various copies of the illuminated works.

 

BLAKE AS A VISUAL ARTIST: CRITICAL WORKS

BLAKE AS A VISUAL ARTIST: CRITICAL WORKS

Behrendt, Stephen C. The Moment of Explosion: Blake and the Illustration of Milton. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. Investigates Blake's illustrations to Milton's poetry within the verbal--and in particular the visual--tradition of 18th century Milton criticism.

-----. "The Mental Contest: Blake's Comus Designs." Blake Studies 8 (1978), 65-88.

-----. "Europe 6: Plundering the Treasury." Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly 21 (1987), 85-94.

-----. see also Reading William Blake, listed under "Blake as a Literary Artist," below.

Bindman, David. Blake as an Artist. Oxford: Phaidon / New York: E. P. Dutton, 1977. Good on just what the title suggests. Bindman is an art historian by training, rather than a literary critic.

Blunt, Anthony. The Art of William Blake. New York: Columbia University Press, 1959. Insightful study of Blake's technical methods by the amateur scholar and notorious spy.

Eaves, Morris. The Counter-Arts Conspiracy: Art and Industry in the Age of Blake. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992.
-----. William Blake's Theory of Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. Excellent on theory, both modern and contemporary with Blake.

Essick, Robert N. "Blake and the Traditions of Reproductive Engraving." Blake Studies 5 (1972), 59-103.

-----. William Blake, Printmaker. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980. Contains 148 pages of plates and a good bibliography of related items.

Hagstrum, Jean. William Blake: Poet and Painter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964. A good introduction to Blake's illuminated poetry; places Blake's work particularly in relation to the emblem tradition.

Heppner, Christopher. Reading Blake's Designs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. An important book that is proving controversial in its assumptions and conclusions about how viewers perceive and "understand" Blake's visual works.

Klonsky, Milton. William Blake: The Seer and His Visions. London: Orbis / New York: Harmony Book, 1977. More valuable for its splendid pictures than for its abbreviated and often befuddled commentary.

Lindberg, Bo. William Blake's Illustrations to the Book of Job. Acta Academiae Aboensis, series A, vol. 46. Abo, Finland: Abo Akedemi, 1973. An excellent art-historical analysis of Blake's Job illustrations which includes detailed commentary on Blake's use of conventional "pathos-formulae" of visual art.

Mitchell, W. J. T. "Style and Iconography in the Illustrations of Blake's Milton." Blake Studies 6 (1973), 47-71. An important early study by a major Blake scholar.

Paley, Morton. William Blake. Oxford: Phaidon / New York: E. P. Dutton, 1978. An introductory work that straddles the art-historical and the literary-critical without falling and seriously injuring itself.

Phillips, Michael. "Printing Blake's Songs, 1789-1794," Library, 6th series. 13 (1991): 205-37. An alternative explanation of the process of illuminated printing and its relation to Blake's "color-printing" techniques.

Raine, Kathleen. William Blake. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970; rpt London: Thames and Hudson, 1985. Raine's interpretations are eclectic and too narrowly neoplatonic, but the book has splendid illustrations.

Richey, William. Blake's Altering Aesthetic. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1996.

Tayler, Irene. Blake's Illustrations to the Poems of Gray. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971. Good, intelligent commentary here.

Vaughan, William. William Blake. London: Thames and Hudson, 1977. Another decent introductory art-historical assessment.

Viscomi, Joseph. Blake and the Idea of the Book. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. See the entry under "Blake as a Visual Artist: Reference Works," above, for this very important book.

Warner, Janet. Blake and the Language of Art. Kingston and Montreal: McGill / Queen's University Press, 1984. A useful introduction to Blake's use of the vocabulary of gesture, and to the significance within Blake's visual work of particular varieties of posture and gesture.

 

BLAKE AS A LITERARY ARTIST

BLAKE AS A LITERARY ARTIST

Adams, Hazard. William Blake: A Reading of the Shorter Poems. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1963.

Altizer, Thomas J. J. The New Apocalypse: The Radical Christian Vision of William Blake. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1967. Relates Blake to the "death of God" thinkers.

Ault, Donald. Visionary Physics: Blake's Response to Newton. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1974. Takes the position that Blake's prophetic poems both subsume and reverse Newton's mathematical conception of the universe.

Beer, John. Blake's Humanism. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1968. Suggestive, but not entirely reliable in its readings.

-----. Blake's Visionary Universe. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1969. Confused and careless.

Behrendt, Stephen C. "‘The Worst Disease': Blake's Tiriel." Colby Library Quarterly 15 (1979), 175-87.

-----. "‘This Accursed Family': Blake's America and the American Revolution." The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 27 (Winter 1986), 26-51. Analysis of America in terms of the metaphor of the family in political theory and discourse.

-----. "‘The Consequence of High Powers': Blake, Shelley, and Prophecy's Public Dimension," Papers on Language and Literature 22 (1986), 254-75. The public, "patriotic" imperatives involved with the prophet's role and function, as revealed in Blake and Shelley.

-----. Blake's Bible of Hell: Prphecy as Political Program," in Blake, Politics, and History, ed. Jackie DiSalvo, G. A. Ross, and Christopher Z. Hobson. New York: Garland, 1998; 37-52.

-----. Reading William Blake. London/New York: Macmillan/St. Martin's, 1992. An introductory analysis of the dynamics of the reading process involved in responding to and assessing Blake's illuminated texts.

Bloom, Harold. Blake's Apocalypse: A Study in Poetic Argument. 1963. Revised ed., Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1971. Along with The Visionary Company, one of the two very best of Bloom's seemingly innumerable productions.

Bracher, Mark. Being Form'd: Thinking through Blake's Milton. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1985. Ambitious and often insightful reading of Milton, but one which takes absolutely no account of the poem's visual text.

Cox, Stephen. Love and Logic: The Evolution of Blake's Thought. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992. An examination of the prophetic writings that argues that Blake's vision of love is inseparable from the "Visionary Logic" that governs Blake's philosophical system.

Damon. S. Foster. William Blake: His Philosophy and Symbols. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1924. Early and valuable, but superseded by much of more recent Blake criticism. Available in reprint: Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1958).

Damrosch, Leopold. Symbol and Truth in Blake's Myth. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980.

DeLuca, Vincent. Words of Eternity: Blake and the Poetics of the Sublime. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991. A discussion of the ways in which Blake's style and aesthetics are profoundly related to the concept of the Sublime as articulated by Burke and others.

Digby, George Wingfield. Symbol and Image in William Blake. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957. An early twentieth-century Jungian analysis.

Doskow, Minna. "William Blake's America: The Story of Revolution Betrayed." Blake Studies 8 (1979), 167-86.

-----. "William Blake and the Wheels of Compulsion," in History and Myth: Essays on English Romantic Literature, ed. Stephen C. Behrendt. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990, pp. 53-72.

Erdman, David V. Blake: Prophet Against Empire: A Poet's Interpretation of the History of His Own Times. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954; revised 1969; third ed. 1977. A true landmark in Blake criticism, by Blake's greatest and most meticulous editor. Erdman's study perhaps over-privileges the strictly historical in advancing its reading of the poetry, but no one has digested so much about Blake's historical milieu, nor blended it with such penetrating analyses of the poetry, as Erdman has.

Essick, Robert N. William Blake and the Language of Adam. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. A study of Blake's language informed by Essick's own extensive explorations in Blake's graphic art.

-----. "William Blake, Thomas Paine, and Biblical Revolution," Studies in Romanticism 30 (1991): 189-212. Examines the interpaly among politics, linguistics, science, and the Bible in Blake's works of the 1790s; contains much important insight into the historical conext of the period.

-----. "William Blake's ‘Female Will' and Its Biographical Context," Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 3l (1991): 615-30. Blake's relationships with women, and their consequences for his art.

Fairchild, B. H. Such Holy Song: Music as Idea, Form, and Image in the Poetry of William Blake. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1980.

Ferber, Michael. The Social Vision of William Blake. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985. Excellent discussion of Blake as a social and political thinker and activist.

-----. "Blake's America and the Birth of Revolution," in History and Myth: Essays on English Romantic Literature, ed. Stephen C. Behrendt. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990. Excellent detailed analysis of the "preludium" to America.

Fox, Susan. Poetic Form in Blake's Milton. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976. Excellent and valuable.

Frosch, Thomas R. The Awakening of Albion: The Renovation of the Body in the Poetry of William Blake. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974. Excellent, critically insightful study of the myths of the Fall and Regeneration as Blake relates them specifically to the human body.

Frye, Northrop. Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947, 1968. Another landmark, and one of the perennially most influential studies of Blake. Frye acknowledges (here and elsewhere) that his entire system of myth criticism was largely derived from his study of Blake. That so much has been written about Blake which takes as its starting-point something Frye has said or written is eloquent testimony to Frye's central position--even today--in Blake studies.

Fuller, David. Blake's Heroic Argument. London: Croom Helm, 1988. The development of Blake's ideas on politics, religion, sexuality, and the imagination in the illuminated works. Over-written, but occasionally insightful.

Gallant, Christine. Blake and the Assimilation of Chaos. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978. A Hegelian analysis.

Gleckner, Robert F. The Piper and the Bard: A Study of William Blake. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1959. Early works (Songs, Tiriel, Thel, MHH, and VDA) primarily. Good introduction to the problems involved with identifying and responding to the various speakers in Blake's poems generally.

-----. Blake's Prelude: Poetical Sketches. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982. The best study to date on Blake's Poetical Sketches.

-----. Blake and Spenser. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985. An extraordinarily detailed study which argues that the influence of Spenser upon Blake is far more significant than has generally been appreciated.

-----. "Blake and the Senses," Studies in Romanticism 5 (1965), 1-15. Blake's view of the relationship between the senses and the Imagination.

Heffernan, James A. W. "Blake's Oothoon: The Dilemmas of Marginality," Studies in Romanticism 30 (1991): 3-18.

Hilton, Nelson. Literal Imagination: Blake's Vision of Words. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. A deconstructive reading focusing upon Blake's polysemous words. Very difficult going, and often questionable, but regarded as one of the best attempts to deconstruct Blake.

Hirsch, E. D. Innocence and Experience: An Introduction to Blake. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964. A particularly dismal book which dismisses Blake's illuminations as mere decorations.

Howard, John. Infernal Poetics: Poetic Structures in Blake's Lambeth Prophecies. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1984.

Jakobson, Roman. "On the Verbal Art of William Blake and Other Poet-Painters." Linguistic Inquiry 1 (1970), 3-23. Discusses also Paul Klee and Henri Rousseau.

Johnson, Mary Lynn. "Emblem and Symbol in William Blake". Huntington Library Quarterly 37 (1974), 151-70.

Larrissy, Edward. William Blake. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985. Marxist re-reading; concentrates primarily upon the earlier works.

Mee, Jon. Dangerous Enthusiasm: William Blake and the Culture of Radicalism in the 1790s. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992. In what he calls "an archeology of reading," Mee examines Blake's political poems of the 1790s within the context of contemporary cultural radicalism, tracing their relation to England's "radical underworld" as well as to the activities of the circle of authors involved with publishers like Joseph Johnson.

Mellor, Anne Kostelanetz. Blake's Human Form Divine. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974. A not-always-reliable discussion of the interrelation of intellectual themes and visual styles in Blake's works.

Mitchell, W. J. T. Blake's Composite Art: A Study of the Illuminated Poetry. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1977. Unquestionably the finest and most subtle study of the complex interplay of verbal and visual texts in Blake's illuminated poetry. This is perhaps THE starting-point for any analysis that proposes to discuss the complete, "composite," interdisciplinary text that constitutes one of Blake's illuminated texts.

Moskal, Jeanne. Blake, Ethics and Forgiveness. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1994.

Ostriker, Alicia. Vision and Verse in William Blake. Madison and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965. Study of Blake's prosody; extremely reductivist and mechanistic.

Otto, Peter. Constructive Vision and Visionary Deconstruction: Los, Eternity, and the Productions of Time in the Later Poetry of William Blake. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.

Paley, Morton. Energy and the Imagination: A Study of the Development of Blake's Thought. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970. Examines Blake's canon within a history-of-ideas framework.

-----. The Continuing City: William Blake's Jerusalem. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983.

Raine, Kathleen. Blake and Tradition. 2 vols. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968. A misleading, though unquestionably erudite, study which places Blake directly in the neoplatonic tradition associated with Thomas Taylor.

Rotenberg, Bettina. "Blake's Contraries: A Poetics of Visionary Perception." European Romantic Review 2 (1991-92): 81-98.

Rothenberg, Molly Anne. Rethinking Blake's Textuality. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1993.

Schorer, Mark. William Blake: The Politics of Vision. Another historical focus, though without the energy or the acumen of Erdman's Prophet Against Empire.

Smith, Donald M. "Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience and Eighteenth-Century Religious and Moral Verse for Children." Essays in Arts and Sciences 20 (1991): 1-16. While it offers little that is new about Blake, the article provides a useful survey of the main features of the children's poems by authors like Bunyan, Watts, Wright, Foxton, Doddridge, Cotton, Marchant, Wesley, Smith, and Barbauld.

Swearingen, James E. "Time and History in Blake's Europe." Clio 20 (1991): 109-21. Proposes that Europe interrogates the concepts of time and history.

Tannenbaum, Leslie. Biblical Tradition in Blake's Early Prophecies: The Great Code of Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. Good study of the biblical-prophetic context of Blake's prophecies.

Thompson, E. P. Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. The great Marxist critic's final book, a study of Blake and the Muggletonians.

Wagenknecht, David. Blake's Night: William Blake and the Idea of Pastoral. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973.

Wicksteed, Joseph H. Blake's Innocence and Experience: A Study of the Songs and Manuscripts. London: Dent, 1928. An early but still important study of the Songs; one of the first modern studies to take the visual texts as seriously as the verbal.

Wilkie, Brian. Blake's Thel and Oothoon. Victoria, B. C.: University of Victoria Press, 1990.

Wittreich, Joseph Anthony, Jr. Angel of Apocalypse: Blake's Idea of Milton. Madison and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1975. Very important; perhaps the clearest and most convincing account of the powerful and dynamic relationship of the ideas of Blake and Milton.

Youngquist, Paul.
Madness and Blake's Myth. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989. A sort of clinical study, which finds that Blake's myth is specifically about madness.


IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS OF ESSAYS

IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS OF ESSAYS

Bentley, G. E., Jr., ed. William Blake: The Critical Heritage. London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975. Like all the volumes in this series, this is an anthology of selections from critical writings on Blake, dating from the earliest to near the publication date. Most useful for the early material, which is not otherwise easily accessible.

Bottrall, Margaret, ed. Songs of Innocence and Experience: A Casebook. London: Macmillan, 1970. A critical compendium on the Songs.

Clark, Steve, and David Worrall, eds. Blake in the Nineties. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999. A good collection of essays that reclaim Blake within the cultural, political, intellectual, and aesthetic contexts of the 1990s.

-----. Historicising Blake. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994. A strong collection of essays that situate Blake and his works within a variety of historical and cultural contexts.

Curran, Stuart, and Joseph Anthony Wittreich, Jr., eds. Blake's Sublime Allegory: Essays on Milton, Jerusalem, and The Four Zoas. Madison and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1973. An excellent older collection.

Jackie DiSalvo, G. A. Ross, and Christopher Z. Hobson, eds. Blake, Politics, and History. New York: Garland, 1998. New and timely essays by major contemporary Blake scholars.

Erdman, David V., and John E. Grant, eds. Blake's Visionary Forms Dramatic. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970. Another very useful collection (though it is aging), dealing with most of Blake's work, both verbal and visual.

Essick, Robert N., ed. The Visionary Hand: Essays for the Study of William Blake's Art and Aesthetics. Los Angeles: Hennessey and Ingalls, 1973. A collection of reprinted items which conveniently assembles some useful introductory and advanced materials.

Essick, Robert N., and Donald Pearce, eds. Blake in His Time. Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1978.

Hilton, Nelson, and Thomas A. Vogler, eds. Unnam'd Forms: Blake and Textuality. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. Primarily deconstructive, from the hotbed of Blake deconstruction.

Miller, Dan, Mark Bracher, and Donald Ault. Critical Paths: Blake and the Argument of Method. Durham: Duke University Press, 1987.

Paley, Morton D. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1973. This is now becoming quite dated, but there is still much of value among the selections included here.

Phillips, Michael, and Morton Paley, eds. William Blake: Essays in Honour of Sir Geoffrey Keynes. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973.

Phillips, Michael, ed. Interpreting Blake. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978.

Rosenfeld, Alvin, ed. William Blake: Essays for S. Foster Damon. Providence: Brown University Press, 1969. Good material here.

Last updated on 1/5/02