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243 × 175 × 28 mm
392 pages
108 illustrations, 77 in colour
15 Mar 2021

Divine Images The Life and Work of William Blake Jason Whittaker

Although relatively obscure during his lifetime, William Blake has become one of the most popular English artists and writers, through poems such as ‘The Tyger’ and ‘Jerusalem’, and images including The Ancient of Days. Less well-known is Blake’s radical religious and political temperament, and that his visionary art was created to express a personal mythology that sought to recreate an entirely new approach to philosophy and art. This book examines both Blake’s visual and poetic work over his long career, from early engravings and poems to his final illustrations to Dante and the Book of Job. Divine Images further explores Blake’s immense popular appeal and influence after his death.

‘an insightful guide to the artistry of William Blake. . . Focusing on how political and religious currents affected Blake’s art, Whittaker shows, in particular, how the idealistic hopes raised by the French Revolution among Blake and his contemporaries led him to imagine how his own society could be liberated from oppressive political structures and social strictures . . . Whittaker also exhibits how Blake’s work as an engraver and printmaker illuminated his poetry . . . Whittaker makes a strong case for why Blake remains “one of the greatest poets and artists ever to have lived in the British Isles.”’ — Publishers Weekly

‘William Blake was influenced by Shakespeare, Milton and the Bible. Divine Images re-familiarises the old and powerful stories, disentangles the themes of the prophetic books and celebrates the ingenuity of the lyric poetry, while contextualising all in the visual and political culture of Blake’s day. Jason Whittaker’s beautifully written book puts Blake’s spirituality and humanism centre stage. He explains what in Blake appealed to the Victorian and Modernist eras and still inspires contemporary artists, writers and musicians.’ — Sibylle Erle, Reader in English Literature at Bishop Grosseteste University and the author of 'Blake, Lavater, and Physiognomy'

‘No one can survive the impossible, irresistible Blake without an introduction. Jason Whittaker’s is superior – readable, knowledgeable, comprehensive, up to date. Highly recommended for anyone trying to follow Blake’s golden thread.’ — Morris Eaves, Professor of English and Richard L. Turner Professor of Humanities at the University of Rochester and the editor of 'The Cambridge Companion to William Blake'

Divine Images is the ideal guide for anyone wanting to know the life and works of William Blake – or to return to what they thought they knew. It is excellent both as an introduction to and overview of the historic Blake, exploring his poetry and art in their time and place and his inspiring legacy through the 19th century up to the present day.’ — Joseph Viscomi, James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of English Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Jason Whittaker is Head of the School of English and Journalism at the University of Lincoln. His books include William Blake and the Myths of Britain (1999) and Blake 2.0 (2012).

Introduction: This World is a World of Imagination and Vision

Chapter 1: Early Life and Work.
Chapter 2: Visions of Innocence
Chapter 3: A New Heaven is Begun
Chapter 4: Lambeth and Experience
Chapter 5: A New System of Mythology
Chapter 6: Night Thoughts and the Four Zoas
Chapter 7: England’s Pleasant Land
Chapter 8: Creating Systems
Chapter 9: Final Visions
Chapter 10: Death and Resurrection – the Legacy of William Blake