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November 17, 1957 - Image 8

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Michigan Daily, 1957-11-17
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BLAKE'S LETTERS
An Edition in Honqr of His Centennial

POLISH STUDENTS:

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THE LETTERS OF WILLIAM
BLAKE. -Edited by Geoffrey
Keynes. New York, 1957:
The Macmian Company.
261 pp. 13 plates. $10.
By VERNON NAHRGANG
Daily City Editor
A VERY IMPORTANT concern
growing in. scholarly circles is
one for surpassing, in an anniver-
sary year, the mere commemora-
tion of an event, place or person
and for devoting more attention to
saying or finding sonjething new
about the subject, something that
may cause the subject to be seen
differently or to be opened to
greater interpretation. In this way,
the anniversary year -serves to
stimulate the completion of work
already, begun as well as the be-
ginning of untried research.
It is not unusual, then; that Wil-
liam Blake, who celebrates his two
hundredth birthday this month, is
the subject of one new volume,'
The Letters of William Blake. It
is unusual that there is so small a
number of new books on Blake,
especially in light of the present
general popularity - of paperback
publications.
The present cgntribution, how-
ever, is a significant one. Goeffrey
Keynes, ,a knighted English sur-
geon and authoritydon Blake, has
compiled all locatable letters writ-
ten from -1791 to 1827, both to and
from Blake, plus one letter relating.
the poet's death. Notes by the edi-
tor are neither obtrusive nor over-
abundant, but helpful where they
occur. To allow uninterrupted
study of the letters, a Register of
Documents at the back of the book
contains the necessary descriptive
and bibliographical information.
AN IMPORTANT PART of the
Letters are the thirteen plates,
mostly reproductions of Blake's
engravings. For, as the letters in-
dicate, Blake was first of all an
engraver, _ani artist, and then 'a
poet.
Few letters in the collection con-
tain no mention of Blake's work.
Many of them are merely receipts
acknowledging business transac-
tions, while the majority were
obviously written first of all to
discuss or make some arrangement
concerning the engraving business.
From these business le t t e r s
comes a picture of a hard-working,
poetic artist sometimes with too

(Continued from-,Page 3)
In Poland, people would be fight-
ing to get a seat."
Remarks Alex: "Typical social
activity for an evenmg is for a
group of students to get together
and discuss what's important for
Poland." Alex and Maria believe-
that tremendous interest in Polish
politics on the part of young people
stems from the fact that "We are
constantly looking for ways to im-
prove our system. We are inter-
ested in the whole world; we try
to evaluate what each country can
offer us.".
S A MERICANcustoms have already
taken'taken effect. Maria de-
scribes dancing to jazz, calypso
and rock 'n roll music as "the
rage" in student circles. American
movies are frequently shown, along
with French, Italian and few So-
viet films.
But to really know what it's like
in the United States, Poles must
depend on accounts from relatives
r here.."The most important thing,"
reflects Alex soberly, "is that we
learn the truth about America.'
Not just propaganda."
Alex and Maria are enthusiastic
about their first visit to the Tnited
States. Frank as they are with
criticism of students at the Uni-
versity, they are also quick to
praise the warm welcome they re-

ceived at Michigan, the cordiality
that has made them feel "so much
at home."
Maria is still impressed with the
University's facilities. She says
lightly: "If I dream about going
to heaven when I die, it will be
organized like this Ann Arbor Uni-
versity; all the courses, libraries
and comforts you have."
AFI twomonths in this coun-
try, Alex and Maria, can com-
pare some of our everyday things
with life back home.
They're both amazed at the pace
of American life. "It's terrific,"
marvels Maria. "Phew," grins Alex,
shaking his 'head.
Maria has a few cryptic com-
ments about our social customs:
On parties: "I can't get used to
them. You meet and talk about
nothing for hours."
On dating: (with a wink and
pretended pout) "No one here
kisses your hand." More seriously,
"I can't get used to the affection
you display in public. It's embar-
rassing. In Poland young people:
may live together during vacations
and no one says anything. But to
kiss in public. Never!"
A pet peeve is our waste of
paper: "You are so extravagant.
Always throwing paper away. May--
be that's why books are, so expen.
sive."
Her woman's eye has been,

AVENUE EAST-WEST-All these buildings were constructed after the war
center, Is used by students.

-from The Letters -of William Blake, plate X.
WILLIAM BLAKE, 1807
.. . in an anniversary year, a volume of revealing letters.

-many jobs waiting to be finished,
more often with not enough pro-
spective jobs to keep him and his
wife in comfort. Imbedded in these
short writings is a profound spirit,
educated in the- ways of art and
appreciative of .praise and help
fromi friends.-
ET THIS SPIRIT of Blake's is
one intolerant of severe criti-
cism and stubborn in its convic-
-tions. As Blake tells a close friend
in a letter of July 6, 1803:
I regard Fashion in Poetry as
little as I do in Painting; so,
if both Poets & Painters
should alternately dislike (but
I know the majority of them
will not), I am not to regard
it at all, but Mr. H. approves
of My Designs as little as he
does of my Poems, and I have'
been forced to insist on his
leaving 'me in both to my own-
Self Will; for I am determined
to be no longer Pester'd with
his Genteel Ignorance & Polite
Disapprobation.
Yet while these letters are first
of all business' communications,
they are also personally tragic.
Blake had a few good, close
friends whom he admired and
thought highly of. With these per-
sons he discussed his engravings

and his monetary transactions. In
writing, he was very outspoken in
his affection for these few and
often composed long poems in
tribute to them.
BUT WHEN Blake was crossed by
one ofsthem, when an ill-chosen
word was said, or when he sus-
pected someone of professional
jealousy, then his ire would mount
to a scathing height. Blake, in
January, 1803, writes his brother:
.I am now certain of what
I have long doubted, Viz that
H. is jealous as Stothard was
& will be no further My friend
than he is compell'd by cir-
cumstances. The truth is, As a
Poet he is frfghten'd at me &
as a Painter his views & mine
are opposite; he thinks to turn
me into a Portrait Painter as
lhe did Poor Romney, -but this
he nor all the devils in hell
will never do.
The Letters also reveal
Blake's sense of social values and
his attitudes-so often expressed
in his poetry-toward what he saw
as the abuses of his time. Included
in this edition by Editor Keynes
are papers relating to Blake's trial
for uttering "words of sedition,"
papers that show the poet's out-
spokeness that, combinedwith his,
easily-aroused irritability, caused
him some difficulty.
BLAKE, In a letter to George
Cumiberland in July, 1800, com-
ments oni the growing employment
of engravers and the society which
has suddenly come to appreciate
Blake a little more:
It is very Extraordinary that
London in so few years from
a City of meer Necessaries or
at I(e)ast a. commerce of the
lowest order of luxuries should
have become a City of Ele-
gance in some degree & that
its once stupid inhabitants
should enter =into an Emula-
tion of Grecian manners.
There are now, I believe, as
many Booksellers as there are
Butciers ...
Another interesting facet of
Blake's letters results from the
poet's discussion of several of his
engravings and drawings and their
meaning and representation. One
complex water color of 1808, "The
Last Judgment," is explained in
some detail in a letter to Ozias
Humphry. Other letters indicate
'his own opinions of his work. The
plates included in the Letters are
those of "The Last Judgment" and
other works discussed by Blake,
therefore adding to the reader's
appreciation of the man and the

caught by our modern conveni-
ences. "American women have so
much-leisure time," she comments,
"why don't they do something con-
structive with it?" In Poland,
women have to do all the work at
home, yet they're much more
active in professions and civic
affairs.
"I .think," observes Maria with a
sly grin, "that you American wom-
en are just too lazy."

SHE'S strongly in favor of having
women in government: "It's the
only way to make political life
more humane. If we could recruit
prime-ministers only from the
mothers of families, I am sure that
we would be the most peaceful
planet in the Universe."
Maria and Alex will probably be
going back to Poland next year.f
Their roots and families are there. I

Ale:
child,
Maria
are al
Wh
back :
from
first-h
is in t
able
curtail

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MAGAZI NE
Sunday, November 17,

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Vol IV, No. 3

1957

For campus glamour
and that just-right look
she needs no
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or bells on her toes
if she wears a shetland
cardigan wherever she goes.
Why don't YOU have a color-
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CONTENTS

WILLIAM BLAKE ..t. ... ..Vernon Nahrgang Page
POLISH STUDENTS .,. ..... Rose Perlberg Page
CATULLUS....... ......Richard E. Braun Page
AUBREY'S LIVES . .... ..Vernon Nahrgang Page
EMILY DICKINSON.....Jean Willoughby Page
LITERATURE & PSYCHOLOGY .T. Morrison Page
IGY & THE OBSERVATORY.....David-Tarr Page
J. FRED LAWTON ..... .. Lane Vanderslice Page
CPH ......................GeraldLundy Page
BEN SHAHN ............... R. C. Gregory Page
T. S. ELIIT ......... .... R. C. Gregory .Page
ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY ..... .James Bow Page
MAGAZINE EDITOR: Tammy Morrison
MAGAZINE PHOTOGRAPHER: Bud Bentley
PICTURE CREDITS-Unless specified, photographs are Daily phe
graphs by Bud Bentley. Cover: Observatory photograph court
the McMath-Hulbert Observatory; Poae 4: Photoaraoh court

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PULLOVER ...... 8.95
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