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Songs of Innocence and Experience
by William Blake
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University of Chicago Magazine, October 2004
Octavo editions give readers a firsthand experience of a milestone text: each includes page-by-page views, expert commentaries, and appropriate "marginalia."
Fine Books & Collections, September/October 2004 (cover story)
There are no cookie-cutter regimens they follow in their editions. Octavo explores each work and decides how to embellish it.
Library Journal, May 15, 2003
The contrast between the two versions is striking and adds a new measure of insight to this great work.
Ariadne 36, July 30, 2003
This edition contains everything needed to appreciate the Songs, and is a pleasure to use. A useful critical edition.
It is a very strong light indeed that comes from these quarto volumes. They reproduce, plate by plate, Blake's hand-lettered verses and colored illustrations. . . . These illuminated books, masterpieces of the book maker's art, answer critical questions, especially about the poet's late, recondite allegories. They remind the poetry scholar that his Blake was first a visual artist, indebted to Raphael and Michelangelo, and second a writer beholden to Spenser and Milton. . . . The greatest contribution of the Princeton facsimiles is that they have made Milton and Jerusalem accessible in the only form Blake ever wished to present them.
Songs of Innocence and of Experience is a collection of poems by William Blake. This is an important publication for those who are fans of the writings of William Blake, and should not be passed up by students or scholars of poetry. Make sure to add this edition to your William Blake poems and continue discover the beauty and mystery to Blake's writings for longtime fans and for those discovering his work for the first time.
The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Masterpieces of English lyric poetry, written and illustrated by William Blake. Songs of Innocence, published in 1789, was Blake's first great demonstration of "illuminated printing," his unique technique of publishing both text and hand-colored illustration together. The rhythmic subtlety and delicate beauty of both his lyrics and his designs created rare harmony on his pages. The poems transformed his era's street ballads and rhymes for children into some of the purest lyrics in the English language. In 1794 Blake published Songs of Innocence and of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul. It contained a slightly rearranged version of Songs of Innocence with the addition of Songs of Experience. The poems reflect Blake's views that experience brings the individual into conflict with rules, moralism, and repression; as a result, the songs of experience are bitter, ironic replies to those of the earlier volume. The Lamb is the key symbol of Innocence; in Experience its rival image is the Tyger, the embodiment of energy, strength, lust, and aggression. See also THE TYGER.
From the Publisher
Imaged from The Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection, Library of Congress
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