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Blake's Poetry and Designs (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – November, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0393924985 ISBN-10: 039392498X Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2nd edition (November 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039392498X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393924985
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This thoroughly revised Second Edition of a perennial favorite in the Norton Critical Editions series, energized by recent scholarly discoveries and new links to the William Blake Archive (blakearchive.org) and other online resources, maintains its predecessors emphasis on the visual and verbal artistry of Blake's self-published works in illuminated printing. The new edition features more than a hundred designs, 16 in color; freshly annotated and re-edited complete texts of the illuminated books, now including the full text of *Jerusalem*, and a generous selection of Blake's other writings.

An expanded "Criticism" section presents 20 appraisals of Blake's work from his own time to the present. New to "Comments by Contemporaries" is Robert Hunt's devastating review of Blake's one-artist show in 1809, to which Blake responded with vitriolic epigrams and the creation of a major villain. "Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Perspectives," now introduced by Allen Ginsberg's personal vision of Blake, preserves earlier commentary by Northrop Frye, Martin K. Nurmi, and Harold Bloom, while adding W. J. T. Mitchell's recognition of the "Dangerous Blake," Joseph Viscomi's detective work on Blake's relief etching process Alicia Ostriker's multi-layered feminist analysis, historicist-cultural studies by Jon Mee, Saree Makdisi, and Julia Wright, and assessments of text-design permutations by Nelson Hilton, Stephen Behrendt, Morris Eaves, and V. A. De Luca.

Also included are an Introduction, a guide to Key Terms, a discussion of Textual Technicalities, a chronology of Blake's Life and Times, a Selected Bibliography, three maps, and Index of Sources, and an Index of Titles and First Lines.

About the Author

John E. Grant is Professor Emeritus of English, University of Iowa. He previously taught at the University of Connecticut. His publications include Discussions of William Blake and Blake’s Visionary Forms Dramatic.

Mary Lynn Johnson is Special Assistant Emerita, President's Office, University of Iowa. She is the co-author of Blake's ’Four Zoas’: The Design of the Dream.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 64 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 1996
Format: Paperback
This is absolutely the best compendium of Blake's work which
articualtes an outstanding range of his vision. This
edition acknowledges the poetry and color paintings of a
consumate craftsman of the imagination on high quality,
acid free paper and is nylon stitched and bound in
signatures to last a lifetime. Books are rarely made this
way but the Norton edition is a beautiful rendering of
the first, and perhaps, primary British Romantic poet.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Greg on October 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
William Blake is one of those soaring pioneers of the human imagination whose visions and their scope make you feel rather humble at times. His works are quite diverse and his output during his life very considerable. Blake's longer poems, such as 'Jerusalem' or the 'Four Zoas', would easily make large books of their own in any edition of his works.

This Norton's edition contains selections from several of Blake's major works, including his Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, his visionary poems, as well as his political poems. The book also contains many scholarly aids including a chronology of Blake's life, critical essays by leading Blake scholars, and colour pages showing Blake's beautiful illustrations to some of his works (as well as being a great poet Blake was also a painter and engraver of very considerable ability). While critics never seem to really reach any consensus on what Blake's poems really 'mean' (Blake is read variously as a Gnostic by Harold Bloom, a revolutionary critic of England during the industrial revolution by Terry Eagleton, or as a disciple of Swedenborg and Boehme by others) Blake's poems contain incredible beauty and visionary power and polyvalent symbols energised with multiple meanings. I think if one consistent theme can be read from Blake and his poems, and I think this was his own intent, was that the power of the human imagination and what it produces in art transcends any attempt to 'bracket' or reduce it to a dead and static system of lifeless scientific symbols; I imagine Blake would class many critics of his work as agents of Urizen, trying to carve out of the fiery energized cosmos of the living human mind the perfect frozen archetype which orders all things perfectly but in doing so, misses the whole point.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mary Lynn Johnson on July 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
With apologies for self-promotion (awarding this book 4 stars so as not to bring down the average), I just want to point out that the old 1979 cover, the "Look Inside" feature, and the existing reviews here are misleading because they do not reflect changes in our new 2008 edition. This new throughly reworked and updated edition now contains all of Blake's *Jerusalem*, revised introductions and notes, a reallocated section of criticism (reflecting developments since 1979), more lightly punctuated texts, much more beautifully reproduced color images of Blake's own designs (17, counting the cover), an expanded chronology, enhanced maps, and numerous cross-references to web resources, especially the William Blake Archive[...] and the University of Georgia's eE (electronic Erdman) and Blake Concordance please see:

Mary Lynn Johnson & John E. Grant
(we welcome feedback at john-grant@uiowa.edu)
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a book is quite good as most Norton Critical Editions are. It has a lot of what is needed by students for a course on Blake or, more likely, a course that spends part of a term on Blake.
It has some biographical material and some maps of England and London at the time Blake lived. There are also a good helping of black and white as well as color plates of Blake's illuminated works. The color plates are only good - the color is not produced beautifully. The student will only get an impression of the true power of Blake's artistry. However, a good teacher will point the student to the Blake Archive at:... so the students can see the works more completely with variants and in better color (if you have good video cards and monitors).
One of the best parts of this book begins on page 176 where working drafts are shown and compared to the final versions. There is also a nice selection of critical writing on Blake - criticism from Blake's time through the present. There is also a useful bibliography.
In some ways this is "Erdman Lite", but it is much more portable than Erdman and for an introductory course on Blake it is probably sufficient. I am glad that I have it in my library.
But please don't stop here!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Proctor on August 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mary Lynn Johnson's review notes the important revision of this book, even though it's not obvious from the Amazon listings. You can find it here; you just have to pursue it a bit.

Update after I received the wrong edition from a used-book dealer here: The listing of "Blake's Poetry and Designs" in Amazon is bolixed up. What is represented as 2nd edition, a 40 year-newer and far different edition, is actuallly listing 1st edition copies, not 2nd edition. Adding to the confusion is that used book sellers here are also confused.

An easy way to tell the difference is in the cover design.

I've notified Amazon and hope they can untangle this mess.
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