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The Complete Illuminated Books

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4.41 of 5 stars 4.41  ·  rating details  ·  2,034 ratings  ·  41 reviews
In his Illuminated Books, William Blake combined text and imagery on a single page in a way that had not been done since the Middle Ages. For Blake, religion and politics, intellect and emotion, mind and body were both unified and in conflict with each other: his work is expressive of his personal mythology, and his methods of conveying it were integral to its meaning. The ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published April 17th 2001 by Thames & Hudson (first published 1974)
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The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoRevelation by C.J. SansomRed Dragon by Thomas HarrisApocalypse by D.H. LawrenceSe7en by Raven Gregory
The Book of Revelation
7th out of 45 books — 21 voters
The Complete Poems by John KeatsSonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett BrowningSongs of Innocence and of Experience by William BlakeThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor ColeridgeLord Byron by George Gordon Byron
The Romantic Poets
70th out of 112 books — 33 voters


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Community Reviews

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Bria
Aug 27, 2012 Bria rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Polypi, vegetating couches, emanations
Will I ever learn to bow to the great weight of History and Literature, to recognize my agonizing lack of context and knowledge, and grant myself permission to have something distilled for me rather than read it myself? I had thought William Blake was a poet who quite ingeniously crafted his own illustrated pamphlets; I was not prepared for the profound extent of his universe and his madness, and have subsequently been driven to keep searching for some great scholar to please, please spell out f ...more
Phillip
I began seeking out the illuminated books of William Blake almost as soon as I was introduced to his poetry around 1983 or 1984. I like the illustrations almost as much as I like the poetry.

Blake had a rich poetic palette to work with. He used dialectical dualism in the structure of "The Songs of Innocence and Experience" and in "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell." That alone delivered an interesting set of ideas to think about. He had visions that were important to his work and added depth to his
...more
Mary Overton
From the Foreword: "The present volume is the latest product of The William Blake Trust's commitment to the publication of Blake's Illuminated books.... While ... fulfilling its responsibility to scholars, the Trust has been keenly aware that the pages of the Illuminated books offer delights for the eye and excitement to the imagination that are independent of full understanding of textual and visual significances. To make such satisfactions open to the widest possible public the Trust has re-as ...more
Antiabecedarian
Oct 20, 2007 Antiabecedarian rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: devotees & students
Shelves: pretty
PRETTY pictures. And wonderful pictures. And awful pictures. I mean that in the clearest origin of the words: awe full and wonder full, ok? For my personal study of how I am not able to draw, or perhaps might alter what I have done already, like a touchstone, since it's impossible to imitate; therefore infallible. The first hippie. I wouldn't read Blake unless I had to for a grade. I could look at the pictures all day, though, till the pastel and tortured teenage notebook aspects start to revive ...more
Angie
A delectable book in terms of design and illustration. Blake still had the need of drawing from his poem's scenes. His was a case like that of Rossetti, who also paint and wrote on a same theme. I still wonder which thing was first. I agree with some comentaries, that this is not exactly a book to approach Blake's poetry, there are other books for that purpose.
Melissa Massello
O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

One of my favorite poems in the world. What would life be without the Romantics? I shudder to think.
Chris Brimmer
To really understand Blake you have to read it with the original illuminations. Get your hands on the largest format you can find. I visited the NYC Library almost everyday for almost a year as they turned one page a day of an original. Great poetry, great art.
Maguxy Ruiz
Estos poemas son la mejor forma de ejemplificar que con lo simple se llega a todos lados: vocabulario sencillo, frases cortas... todo eso para que llegara a un numero mayor de lectores, aunque en su epoca, cuando Blake publico por primera vez "Songs of innocence" lo tomaron por un libro para niños, de simple que le parecia a todo el mundo, ademas de las ilustraciones que traia, hechas por el mismo Blake.

Pero su intencion no era aleccionar a los niños en los comportamientos que la sociedad espera
...more
Alex Obrigewitsch
If you are going to read Blake then this is a must-have. for it is a reading beyond mere words, and art beyond pictures. Blake fuses vision and word into a transcendental art that burns itself into the brain as he did his art into the copper plate.
Elaine
Erdman's analysis of each plate of illustration or text is superb, but the book itself is in black and white only, a shame because Blake was a wonderful colorist. Furthermore, the plates are qute small. However, all is not lost because the large reproductions of Blake's works (which I've also reviewed) are in color and you can compare these larger colored plates with Erdman's analyses. These are not, to me, booksI can ever say I'm done reading, as I take in no more than a few plates at a sitting ...more
Elaine
The heaviest paperback I own. It's a large book with plates of all of Blake's books and etchings. I found it wonderful with the explanations in the Damon Dictionary and Erdman's plate by plate analysis. Although Erdman is also a complete work, the plates are not in color as they are here, and the plates are far smaller. I find myself comparing the two, plate by plate. All of these Blake books are of the sort that one never really finishes. One studies a plate or more at one time, then puts it do ...more
Allison
Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience are absolutely fantastic, but absolutely need to be read in context with their illustrations. Blake engraved every one of his poems and the text is continually interacting and engaging with its engravings. Interestingly, Blake was wholly irrelevant during the Romantic period and sold only a handful of copies of his work. It is only in recent history that scholars have included Blake in the romantic literary canon, where he is now impossible to ignore.
Jen
I think William Blake created some of the most visually remarkable works of literature EVER. Finding his art in museums was one of the most meaningful things I did in England. I rated this book a 5 because of the artwork, and some of writing as well. However, I can't say I enjoy all of his writing because I just really don't. Even when I don't care for what he is saying, I still linger and enjoy what is on the page because it is so incredibly beautiful.
Gemma Humphrey
I ordered this some time ago (months in fact) as part of some research i'm doing for a project but when it arrived i was amazed at its quality. the prints are beautiful and, although i was familiar with a lot of the poems and writings, when you combine them with the illustrations its fascinating and brings a whole new depth to the text. if you have any interest in Blake and his works, i would recommend this whole-heartedly!
Auntjenny
Do you know where The Doors got their name from? Or from where Aldous Huxley stole his title The Doors of Perception? Willy Blake! In middle school, we sang "The Tyger" and "The Lamb" in choral...and "The Tyger" especially stuck with me. I love it. So in college, when I learned more about Blake, I fell in love all over again and ended up writing my thesis about him.
Laurel Narizny
A great collection of Blake's illuminated works, complete with transcripts. The only thing I'd change (aside from adding some more explanations/analysis of each work) is to make all the plates large enough to read and to match the size of the paper. As is, they're printed at their original size, which in some cases takes up less than half the page and is hard to read.
Sean
Blake is insane, that's for sure. He leaps back and forth over the line of genius/madman like no one else. The illuminated books are intense. Reading his works in his own handwriting coupled with his illustrations gives them a great and unique power. He creates an entire mythical world in these works, much of which is tricky to wrap one's brain around, but I enjoyed trying.
Omri
I've got a copy of this amazing edition and I'm mesmerized by the beautiful beautiful production. This is definitely a must for every Blake fan! The album size paper allows you to enjoy both the artwork and the written-work of this complicated and symbolic writer, in a way which redefines the concept of poetry reading. Wonderful book.
Cody
"Lo! to the vault of paved heaven, with sorrow fraught thy notes are driven, they strike the ear of night, make weep the eyes of day, they make mad roaring winds, and with tempests play." The combination of Blake's vivid, manic poems and watercolors is a multimedia extravaganza. Gesamtkunstwerk 4-ever!
Mike Shaw
Blake's prose coupled with the illuminations offered her are spine chilling and often angelic. A veritable bible for the soul...If you are not already prone to madness. A must have for your library. And if your not into poetry...WHEEE...cool pictures!
Jessica
Blake isn't my favorite Romantic, but this is a stunningly beautiful collection of his illuminated manuscripts. It's definitely worth a look if you're interested, and worth owning if you're a Romantic(ist)-type person.
Michael
This one's not exactly reviewable as it's more of a reference book. I wanted to get an idea of what Blake's work was all about - he really was a man out of his own time as far as his religious views went.
Trevor
Blake had some of the most remarkable ideas on the nature of good and evil and an uncanny level of understanding of them that are expressed both beautifully and horrifically in his art and prose.
P.D.
IF you want to read Blake, by all means read the illuminated versions. And then keep Erdman's text on hand for difficult to read passages, the glossary and annotations.
James
Nov 30, 2008 James rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Blake lovers.
Very useful, though possibly outdated, black and white edition of Blake's complete illuminated works. Erdman's brief notes on every plate are still useful.
Sic Transit
I found this in full colour hardback via a specialist bookstore online. I do not recall what it cost, only that it was more than worth it. Splendid.
Michelle
I had no idea how essential his original illuminations are to Blake's poems until I saw this book. Don't read Blake without them.
James
Nov 29, 2008 James rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any Blake lover.
Excellent single edition volume of all Blake's Illuminated Books.
Patrick Gibson
A companion to ‘The Complete Poems’ for the amazing illustrations.
Jimmy
Dec 02, 2012 Jimmy added it
perfect. maybe about the best thing you're gonna find in a book.
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13453
William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake's work is today considered seminal and significant in the history of both poetry and the visual arts.

Blake's prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the language". His visual artistry has led one modern critic to proclaim h
...more
More about William Blake...
Songs of Innocence and of Experience The Complete Poetry and Prose The Complete Poems The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Selected Poems

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“And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?”
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