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William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books Paperback – 27 Nov 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; New edition edition (27 Nov. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500282455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500282458
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 3.8 x 29.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

There has never been an edition of Blake's illuminated books so handsome, its pages filled with images to pore over in utter absorption. David Erdmann's The Illuminated Blake is still in print, and very useful, but the reproductions in that edition are all black and white, where this is in glorious Technicolor. One thing this edition allows the reader to do is register the different scales of Blake's various books--to see, for instance, just how tiny are the pages of the Songs of Innocence and Experience, such that you can completely cover them with your hand, compared with the coffee-table-sized later works. This Thames and Hudson edition of The Complete Illuminated Books is large format, A4 size, which makes for a spacious white border around the smaller images, but allows the larger books to be shown off in all their glory. And glorious they are; a unique, extraordinary sequence of interwoven visual and textual compositions; Blake's distinctively muscular figures (looking, it must be said, oddly modern, as if they have all just stepped out of the gym) sprawl and bound between blocks and columns of printed words. One of the most striking things is the disjunction between words and images at the basic level of legibility. The pictures are direct, vibrant and lucid; visually extremely expressive. Of the colour images, all of them are beautiful, psychedelically hued compositions making use of energetic diagonals and spirals in their composition. Blake's words, on the other hand, are often extremely difficult to read; particularly in the later "prophetic" books. Page after page is filled with minute handwriting in sepia-orange or grey. Its not that Blake's handwriting is unclear, but rather that the sheer bulk of text baffles the eye, copied so neatly onto the marginless block of the page with an obsessive, detailed miniaturised aesthetic. The editors, recognising this, reprint the words in type at the back of the book. But above all this edition drives home the point that Blake cannot be regarded separately as poet or visual artist; these two elements are always fused and co-existing. This wonderful, beautiful book makes that point impressively. --Adam Roberts

Review

`A book to be treasured'
-- The Methodist Recorder

`Beautifully reproduces Blake's vibrant images . . . handsome'
-- The Art Newspaper

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 134 people found the following review helpful By M. Harris on 30 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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Once you begin to read Blakes original works (text and images together - as Blake intended), you'll wonder why you ever read text-only versions. This book is stunning. The quality of the prints is extremely good. Amazon's blurred preview pages do the book no justice. A minority of pages are faint or difficult to read, but this is no fault of the current publishers - blame William Blake! Transcripts of all the texts are included to clarify any illegibility, but are not usually needed as most of the pages are clear and bright.
The editor's introduction to each illuminated book is brief. This allows the reader to dive straight into Blake's visionary world. Never mind if much of the text (especially of the later works) seems at first incomprehensible, Blake's illustrations are so vibrant and powerful on their own that they will keep you fascinated for a long time, and will help to cultivate a hungry curiosity that will eventually offer a way into his mysterious later texts. So what if you don't 'get it' ! Let go and just enter the mystery.
Having said this, many of Blake's earlier texts are much more easily accessible; 'All Religions Are One', 'There is no Natural Religion', 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience' 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell', 'The Gates of Paradise'. There is plenty here to offer a rich introduction to Blake's mythology and also to help prepare you for his later works.
This is Blake's 'Bible of Hell' and no household should be without a copy.
Here is a list of the illuminated book included:
* All Religions are One, (Plate 1 Keynes Collection, Fitzwilliam Museum,.
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72 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. J. Fairley on 6 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
Blake was a visionary and a genius, a man who truly saw angels walking among men, and a man in whose powerful imagination London became Jerusalem. Blake was one of the most interesting characters of the 18th and 19th centuries, and lived in some of the most tumultuous times of the last thousand years. To truly appreciate Blake, you need to be able to see his illustrations along with his poetry, for Blake was not only a poet, he was also an artist. As I am studying Blake in my English class I can tell you that this is an incredibly worthwhile edition. The reproductions are fantastic; and include some rare plates in their full coloured glory. The volume tells you which edition of the plates are being reproduced (for Blake hand-made and hand-coloured each one individually and so every one is a little bit different), there is a brief introduction to each poem/collection allowing you to place it in context and also included are some of the "alternate" plates - plates found to exist in one version, but not another.
The size of the book allows you to view the plates as they should be viewed; hence, the smaller plates such as those of "Songs of Innocence and Experience" are reproduced to size but you the larger plates are also reproduced at a good size, allowing you to fully appreciate the work. It contains an excellent timeline and also a transcription of all the poems at the back of the book which is highly useful as sometimes, particularly with the smaller plates, Blake's writing can be rather small making it difficult to make out some words or phrases.
This really is a wonderful volume.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By DJ Valentine on 30 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Buy this. If you are interested in Literature, in liberalism, in freedom and liberty. Don't buy a game, don't buy food, don't buy clothes BUY THIS. Honestly. If you read his works and take in his philosophy and works it will bring you so much enlightenment it's just nuts.

The book is stunning. The quality is superb. I have it on display! It's weighty but when I carry it with me I'm happy about the weight because it reminds me that I'm carrying the most amazing work of art I have ever had the pleasure to embrace with all my being with me.

If people used his Proverbs of Hell as a guide to life instead of other "bibles or sacred codes" the world would be a much fairer and happier place.

Remember - "Energy is Eternal Delight!"

GO BUY THIS, BUY IT BUY IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
I came across William Blake a while back and i find his works inspirational! The colour and imagination put into each of his paintings coupled with the beauty of his poetry combine to create a wonderous final interpretation of his ideas and mythology. This book makes it easy for anyone to appreciate Blake's work by providing large full colour copies of his writing. A must buy for anyone how is interested in Blake's writing.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Captain Pugwash on 15 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Absolutely superb text containing William Blake's original copperplate designs; many of which are companion to his seminal poetry collection: Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. The book is extremely hefty, but if you like Blake's poetry or are studying it, then this is an invaluable tome for you.
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