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The Book Of Urizen
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.
Time, April 5, 1999
Now, thanks to Octavo, anyone with a computer can enjoy priceless works.
The artistic genius of William Blake (17571827) found expression in both graphic works and visionary poetic writings. Among Blakes most masterful productions are books that combined these forms, which he personally engraved and printed using a technique of his own devising. These works were hand-colored by Blake as individual copies were sold, often years or even decades after their original conception, and consequently each surviving copy reflects a unique aspect of Blakes creativity.
The Book of Urizen was originally engraved in 1794 as The First Book of Urizen, for a projected series of works expressing Blakes idiosyncratic cosmogony. Only a handful of copies are known to have been completed, and only one of these was executed later in the artists career (ca. 1818). That copy, reproduced with unequaled detail and accuracy in this Octavo Edition, uses masterly techniques of coloring to produce in many instances what are virtually original paintings, highlighted in liquid gold. Blakes painstaking technique transforms the relatively flat picture surface of the original engravings into a dazzling epic in miniature that combines his bardic verse with otherworldly imagery to recount as never before the origins of human experience.
Commentary by Nicolas Barker, searchable transcription.
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