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The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  5,202 ratings  ·  163 reviews
No work has challenged its readers like Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell”—by turns iconoclastic, bizarre, and unprecedented—have been employed as the slogans of student protest and become axioms of modern thought. Most extraordinary, though, is the revolutionary method Blake employed in making the physical book. The Bodleian Library holds ...more
Hardcover, 173 pages
Published May 15th 2011 by Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (first published 1790)
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I’ve always loved provocative poetry. Not sensationalist I-don’t-even-have-a-good-reason-to-do-this provocative poetry, but rather pondered provocation disguised in insanity. That’s what The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is.

Blake’s conception does not reject religion altogether. Instead, Blake criticizes religious institution and its morality scheme, in which all is black and white. For Blake, the world has multiple shades of gray and there’s no evil or good in either side of the spectrum. In thi
This, quite frankly, is one of the greatest pieces of literature I’ve ever read—in fact, extend 'literature' to include philosophy and theology as well. It's mad, complicated, mystical... suffice to say, it's essentially mind-expanding.

Works of genius, I find, fall under two basic categories: those that form the pinnacle of a particular genre; and those that, more generally, push the very limits of human achievement. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is genius in the latter sense.

A facsimile editi
Blake was one of the greatest artistic geniuses, and this book is the clearest expression of his ideas outside of his sublime but gnomic prophetic books. This work on the other hand is brief and accessible, and is as good an introduction to Blake's visionary genius as one is likely to find.
Max Maxwell
Jan 05, 2010 Max Maxwell rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Uh... not libertarians, they'll take it out of context
Recommended to Max by: My wife, way back when
Hm... The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, eh? I read C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce before I read this, and I think his preface there sums up my thoughts on the work:
Blake wrote The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. If I have written of their Divorce, this is not because I think myself a fit antagonist for such a genius, nor even because I feel at all sure that I know what he meant.
And yet... I, too, do write of their divorce.

I think that The Marriage is a very engaging and invigorating intellectual
Nancy Nguyen
This was so great! It's filled with amazing parables and such wisdom (which can only be conjured by intertwining "good" and "evil," wink wink). I can only imagine this work being extremely revolutionary even now, so I can't imagine the reception during the Romantic period. This work makes me feel so special. Blake's like saying that we all have something to celebrate within ourselves (of course, he meant that in the most divine way possible), and you don't have to be religious to appreciate that ...more
The Proverbs of Hell are a chilling and disturbingly saccharine peek into the psychological profile of the Human experience. Check out the Dover edition which has reproduced the original plates in facsimile and full color!
i simply can't add to many of the immortal lines found in the book such as, "When the doors of perception are cleansed, everything will appear as it is, infinite." thank God for the voice known as william blake.
Rodrigo Esquer
This is one of the most profound of the so called Illuminated Books by William Blake, a gnostic and ground-shaking masterpiece
I'll be currently reading this perpetually
Christa Forster
I try to read Blake at least once a year.
Adil El Azraki
This, the most immediately accessible of Blake's longer works, is vigorous, deliberately outrageous, and at times comic, onslaught against many of the stock opinions of orthodox christian piety and morality. The seeming simplicity of bake's satiric attitude, however, is deceptive.

Initially, Blake accepts the terminology of middle-class Christian morality ("what the religious call Good and Evil") but reverses its values, In this conventional use of evil, which is manifested by the class the class
Huda AbuKhoti
This Christianity and Blake's mythology combo wasn't that digestible for me. It was too confused, more like a little Christian kid's daydream; one of those children who's forced to go to church on Sundays and finds his relief from that by these kinds of thoughts.

I did however love most of the Proverbs of hell.

- A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
- He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
- The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
- The hours of folly are measur'd by the
A work of unusual genius. Blake takes on the themes explored by Milton, to whom he frequently refers in the first half of this poem, and Dante, to whom he does not seem to refer, and builds a astonishing tableau of the afterlife and its elements, very much after the style of Dante's Hell.
Many fantastical elements feature in Blake's world, though I understand that Clive Staples Lewis wrote a critical response to it in his book The Great Divorce, in which he announced his unsuitability to answer
A work of staggering(ly mad) genius. Blake, in layer upon layer of delicious irony and satire, in prose and poetry and images that are both fundamentally unsettling and oddly reassuring, and most certainly deeply human, achieves true profundity, inspires puzzlement and outrage, and makes you laugh insanely hard-- assuming you have a good sense of humour.

I agree with the guy who says this is (potentially) dangerous, and it's sadly too easy to find people who call themselves fans of Blake who esp
Jul 30, 2008 Daniel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: many people, acne-plagued high school boys
i love william blake. even if my friend mike says that, while he was teaching high school english, that was the one poet all the boys hyped up on testosterone and a touch of freedom were actually excited about. i guess that says a lot about me --- or/and --- a lot about william blake. but, shit, i'd throw rimbaud into the same damn category and he, well ... he's fucking rimbaud.

on a side note: even though this edition is super-compact, the reproductions of blake's "illuminated manuscript" are so
Mariana Orantes
El libro hizo replantearme muchas cosas sobre cómo se debe armar un poemario efectivo. Me gustó mucho, por momentos me sentí perdida y cuando encontré el hilo, me llegó una sensación muy desconcertante, dos sentimientos, dos emociones: una alegría medio perversa o una tristeza, una angustia de garganta. No sé ni como decirlo, supongo que cada quien tendría que adaptarlo a su sentir. La edición que leí no es esta, mi edición es un facsímil muy bello de las traducciones hechas por Xavier Villaurru ...more
JSA Lowe
First read in 1989, when I was a dumb young Nietzschean; but Blake only improves with time.

"My friend the Angel climb'd up from his station into the mill; I remain'd alone, & then this appearance was no more, but I found myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moonlight, hearing a harper who sung to the harp; & his theme was: 'The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds reptiles of the mind.'

"But I arose, and sought for the mill, & there I fo
Guille Petit
I have always thought that William Blake gave us this as an example. He talks about the body and the soul, virtue and sin, good and evil (also "bad"). These are existential coflicts (hence the tag/shelf); the way he deals with them is applicable to (virtually) any other conflict. His dialogues, soliloquies, poems,, and anthems; are comparison or scenarios in which the two forces (good/evil) interact. It is the genius' version of a "pros vs. cons" list. It is a masterpiece that should be mandator ...more
I'm not always a fan of Romanticism, but imho Blake's radical revolutionary vision is remarkable.
For me, this is the most accessible of Blake's prophetic books, as it predates those later, more difficult texts in which he employs his personal myth of the four "immortals" to make his argument.
The work is a great experiment in form: Blake shifts from verse to prose and back again, employing a number of literary modes, including the narrative, the lyric and the proverb. Moreover, this particular edition is of special value because it includes reproductions of all the engraved plates--pictures
William Blake war eigentlich von seiner Ausbildung her Kupferstecher. Er arbeitete zum Broterwerb auch als Illustrator für andere Autoren.
Seine eigentliche Passion scheint aber eine Art verschrobener Naturmystizismus gewesen zu sein, denn in seiner Freizeit dichtete er und entwarf eine ziemlich bizarre, christlich inspirierte Mythologie, die sich mir vollkommen entzieht, weil sie mir einfach zu verschwurbelt ist.
Diese Gedichte druckte er als ganze Seiten, Text und Illustrationen jeweils auf eine
If you've got an afternoon, you've got time for The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. After all, it's only 48 pages. 48 very dense pages.

If only it were possible to give this book two different ratings... I'd give it 5 stars for its excellent writing quality and 1 star for its horrendous theology/philosophy/whatever this is.

If you appreciate poetry, or even descriptive prose, then you can't help but admire the way Blake writes. For example, in describing creation, Blake writes: "Then the perilous pat
Hassan AlHejaili
First time that I've heard of William Black was in the film "Dead Man" written and directed by Jim Jarmusch.
"Dead man" is a western black white film. The main character in the film is William Blake (Johnny Depp) is a man who his parents just died, and he is coming from Ohio to get a job in a city called "Machine".
Happened accidentally, that a native Indian character tells William Black in the film that he is a reincarnation of the poet William Blake who wrote this:
“The ancient tradition that the
Ante la imposición de una verdad revelada, un librepensador es capaz de mostrar, en un opúsculo tan breve como "El matrimonio del Cielo y del Infierno", las posibilidades que ofrece nuestra capacidad de razonamiento a partir de una tradición libertaria.
Contundente, liberrimo, con una riqueza imaginativa desbordante, y en el caso de esta edición, que reproduce las planchas originales, preciosamente iluminada.
Not sure what to say. It made me understand the place of body and soul, dissolving a tendency to overemphasize the later. But other than that, the book conflicts with many other things I read and is full of obscure references I decided to note and pass by, instead of researching every and each one of them.

It also made me notice a core idea present in almost everything I read from Blake. And, for future reference, I must also remark a difference between Swedenborg's angels in here and Borges' wor
Julia Boechat Machado
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.
The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.
The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.
The nakedness of woman is the work of God.
Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.
Wow. Blown away is the short response for this one. Moments in this amazing work had me spellbound and confused, and then later reflecting on the subtle beauty and sagacity woven in and between the written words, together creating a master work, maybe hated, glorified, cursed, and worshipped all at once.
Started to read this so as to fully appreciate The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. Could barely stand to do so. Abandoned.

The strange mix of poetry and parable and sardonically rebellious and mystical wisdom make this one of the strangest and most wonderful books of its (and any) time. To my taste, this is Blake's masterpiece, even more than the Songs. It's great to have the color plates as well.
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Interesting dichotomy between what is to be considered "Good" and what is to be considered "Evil." It also discusses the source of such things and flips the conception on its head. It speaks of contrary existences and that Hell, as he describes it, is just as relevant and important to the human condition as Heaven--it may even be more important as it is the source of passions, poems, and Energy (that which is deemed sin).

Why 2 stars? Because it'
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  • Prometheus Unbound
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  • The Prelude
  • Hymns to the Night (English and German Edition)
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  • A Season in Hell/Illuminations
  • The Complete English Poems (Herbert, George)
  • Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow (Faber Library)
  • Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake
  • The Complete Poems
  • Collected Shorter Poems, 1927-1957
  • Complete Poems
  • The Complete Poems
  • An Essay on Criticism
  • Selected Poems
  • The Complete Poems
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 about William Blake...
Songs of Innocence and of Experience The Complete Poetry and Prose The Complete Poems The Complete Illuminated Books Selected Poems

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“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.” 946 likes
“Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.” 497 likes
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