Algernon Charles Swinburne: William Blake. A Critical EssayAbbildungenDeskriptionAnmerkungJorge Luis BorgesWilliam Blake: Proverbs of HellVerweise

“Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.”

Algernon Charles Swinburne:

William Blake. A Critical Essay. With Illustrations from Blake’s Designs in Facsimile, Coloured and Plain. Second Edition.

London: John Camden Hotten, 1868.

Octavo. 218 × 138 mm. Lithographisches, handkoloriertes Frontispiz und lithographischer, handkolorierter Titel, iv, [4], 304 Seiten. Sowie sieben, teils handkolorierte lithographische Tafeln.

Handgefertigter moderner Halbledereinband im Stil des 19. Jh. mit fünf erhabenen Bünden auf dem Rücken, dieser und die breiten Ecken aus hellbraunem Kalbleder, die Rückenfeldern mit Kastenvergoldung aus einer Linie, darinnen jeweils Eckornamente und ein größerer fleuraler Mittelstempel, auf zweitem Feld ein schwarzes Maroquinschild mit den Titel, auf viertem ein ebensolches mit dem Verfassernamen. Die Deckel mit hellem, passendem Marmorpapier bezogen, Kopfgoldschnitt, vorn und unten unbeschnitten. Signiert auf dem vorderen fliegenden Vorsatz verso oben: „The Harcourt Bindery“.

Zweite Ausgabe, wohl die Variante mit montiertem neuem Titel und dem Buchblock der ersten Ausgabe. Der gedruckte Titel mit der Vignette und „Going to and fro in the Earth“.
“His famous drawings, burlesque or serious, of visionary heads are interesting chiefly for the evidence they give of Blake’s power upon his own mind and nerves, and of the strong and subtle mixture of passion with humour in his temperament. Faith, invention, and irony are here mingled in a rare and curious manner. (...) We must here be allowed space to interpolate a word of the briefest possible comment on the practical side of Blake’s character. No man ever lived and laboured in hotter earnest; and the native energy in him had the property of making all his atmosphere of work intense and keen as fire—too sharp and rare in quality of heat to be a good working element for any more temperate intellect. Into every conceivable channel or byway of work he contrived to divert and infuse this overflowing fervour of mind; the least bit of engraving, the poorest scrap or scratch of drawing or writing traceable to his hands, has on it the mark of passionate labour and enjoyment; but of all this devotion of laborious life, the only upshot visible to most of us consists in a heap of tumbled and tangled relics, verse and prose mainly inexplicable, paintings and engravings mainly unacceptable if not unendurable.”

Wohlerhaltenes, schönes Exemplar.

Second edition, with 9 illustrations from Blake’s designs in facsimile, colored and plain, including the frontispiece and title-page. 8vo (8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches), 3/4 modern tan calf, by Harcourt Bindery, with marbled boards; fine condition.

Wise I,189,50 — Text.


“When this lengthy essay was published Blake, who is now considered one of the great English poets, was not much read or appreciated, mainly because his work was thought to be impenetrable. Swinburne’s pioneering study covers the span of Blake’s artistic output, with a special focus on the difficult ‘prophetic books.’ Though Swinburne’s elucidation of Blake’s work is highly subjective, the study is crucial for it initiated a reevaluation of the Romantic poet.” — Kathryn L. Beam: Swinburne, A Radical Victorian, p. 3.

“Algernon Charles Swinburne, also a Blake enthusiast in the Gilchrist/Rossetti circle, published the first book-length study of Blake’s poetry in 1868. A heterodox and revolutionary Blake emerges in Swinburne’s critique, one that includes high praise for The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.”Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Robert N. Essick.


Jorge Luis Borges

“William Blake, on the contrary, remains not only outside the pseudo-classic school (to use the most elevated term), and that is the school represented by Pope, but he also remains outside the romantic movement. He is an individual poet, and if there is anything we can connect him to — for, as Rubén Darío said, there is no literary Adam — we would have to connect him to much more ancient traditions: to the Cathar heretics in the south of France, the Gnostics in Asia Minor and Alexandria in the first century after Christ, and of course to the great and visionary Swedish thinker, Emmanuel Swedenborg. Because Blake was an isolated individual, his contemporaries considered him a bit mad, and perhaps he was. He was a visionary — as Swedenborg had been, of course — and his works circulated very little during his lifetime. Moreover, he was better known as an engraver and a draftsman than as a writer. (...) Blake’s work is extraordinarily difficult to read because he created a theological system. In order to express it, he had the idea of inventing a mythology, and critics don’t agree on what it means. There is a poem by Blake — it is included in all the anthologies — where this problem is expressed, but of course is not resolved. (...) In Songs of Experience, Blake deals directly with the problem of evil, and he symbolizes it, in the manner of the bestiaries of the Middle Ages, as a tiger. The poem, which consists of five or six stanzas, is called ‘The Tyger,’ and was illustrated by the author.” — Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature. Translated by Katherine Silver. New York: New Directions, 2000.

Ein wohlgedruckter Katalog

Craig Hartley & al.:
William Blake and His Contemporaries. A Loan exhibition in aid of the Friends of the Fitzwilliem Museum, Cambridge.
London: Wildenstein, 1986.
Octavo. 112 pp. With numerous illustrations in b/w and colours.
Original wrappers.

The exhibition and the catalogue display masterpieces by Blake and his contemporaries.
Very good. First edition.

Eine der zahlreichen Faksimileausgaben

William Blake:
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Introduction and Commentary by Sir Geoffrey Keynes.
London & New York: Oxford University Press und Paris: The Trianon Press, 1975.
Octavo. xxvii, [1] Seiten, 27 Blatt Faksimiletafeln mit rückseitigem Kommentar, [1 weißes] Blatt.
Mattblauer Original-Leinwandband mit silbergeprägter Rückentitelei, ebensolcher Original-Leinwandschuber mit zwei montierten farbigen Faksimiletafeln.

Erste Auflage. Nachdruck der Originalausgabe im Originalformat auf speziell angefertigtem Papier. Wohlerhalten.

Das Blake-Archiv mit Abbildungen der Werke.


William Blake: Proverbs of Hell

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead. The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity. He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence. The cut worm forgives the plow. Dip him in the river who loves water. A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star. Eternity is in love with the productions of time. The busy bee has no time for sorrow. The hours of folly are measur’d by the clock, but of wisdom: no clock can measure. All wholsom food is caught without a net or a trap. Bring out number weight & measure in a year of dearth. No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings. A dead body, revenges not injuries. The most sublime act is to set another before you. If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise. Folly is the cloke of knavery. Shame is Prides cloke. ~ Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion. 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. The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man. The fox condemns the trap, not himself. Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth. Let man wear the fell of the lion, woman the fleece of the sheep. The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship. The selfish smiling fool, & the sullen frowning fool, shall be both thought wise, that they may be a rod. What is now proved was once, only imagin’d. The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbit: watch the roots; the lion, the tyger, the horse, the elephant, watch the fruits. The cistern contains; the fountain overflows. One thought, fills immensity. Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you. Every thing possible to be believ’d is an image of truth. The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow. ~ The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion. Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night. He who has suffer’d you to impose on him knows you. As the plow follows words, so God rewards prayers. The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction. Expect poison from the standing water. You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough. Listen to the fools reproach! it is a kingly title! The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the beard of earth. The weak in courage is strong in cunning. The apple tree never asks the beech how he shall grow, nor the lion, the horse, how he shall take his prey. The thankful reciever bears a plentiful harvest. If others had not been foolish, we should be so. The soul of sweet delight, can never be defil’d. When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius, lift up thy head! As the catterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys. To create a little flower is the labour of ages. Damn, braces: Bless relaxes. The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest. Prayers plow not! Praises reap not! Joys laugh not! Sorrows weep not! ~ The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands & feet Proportion. As the air to a bird of the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible. The crow wish’d every thing was black, the owl, that every thing was white. Exuberance is Beauty. If the lion was advised by the fox, he would be cunning. Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius. Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires. Where man is not nature is barren. Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ’d. Enough! or Too much!