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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINF

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BLAKE'S LETTERS
An Edition in Honor of His Centennial
THE LETTERS OF WILLIAM
BLAKE. Edited by Geoffrey
Keynes. New York, 1957:
The Macmillan Company
261 pp. 13 plates. $10.
By VERNON NAHRGANG
Daily City Editor
A VERY IMPORTANT concern
growing in scholarly circles is u
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 something 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, IrA The L ter of willia Blake, p1to X
The Letters of William Blake. It WILLIAM BLAKE 1807
is unusual that there is so small a .. in an anniversary year, a volume of revealing letters.
number of new books on Blake,
especially in light of the present many jobs waiting to be finished, and his monetary transactions. In
general popularity of paperback more often with not enough pro- writing, he was very outspoken in
publications. spective jobs, to keep him and his his affection for these few and
The present contribution, how- wife in comfort. Imbedded in these often composed long poems in
ever, is a significant one. Goeffrey short writings is -a profound spirit, tribute to them.
Keynes, a knighted English sur- educated in the ways of art and
geon and authority on Blake, has appreciative of praise and help BUT WHEN Blake was crossed by
compiled all locatable letters writ- from friends. one of them, when an ill-chosen
ten from 1791 to 1827, both to and word was said, or when he sus-
from Blake, plus one letter relating ET THIS SPIRIT of Blake's is pected someone of professional
the poet's death. Notes by the edi- one intolerant of severe criti- jealousy, then his ire would mount
tor are neither obtrusive nor over- cism and stubborn in its convic- to a scathing height. Blake, in
abundant, but helpful where they tions. As Blake tells a close friend January, 1803, writes his brother:
occur. To allow uninterrupted in a letter of July 6, 1803: . .. I am now certain of what
study of the letters, a Register of
Documents at the back of the book I regard Fashion in Poetry os I have long doubted, Viz that
contains the necessary descriptive little as I do in Painting; so, I. is jealous as Stothard was
and bibliographical information, if both Poets & P a i n t e r s & will be no further My triend
should alternately dislike (but than he is compell'd by cir-
AN IMPORTANT PART of the I know the majority of them cumstances. The truth is, As a
Letters are the thirteen plates will not), I am not to regard Poet he is frighten'd at me &
mostly reproductions of Blake' it at all, but Mr. H. approves as a Painter his views & mine
englravings For, as the letters in- of My Designs as little as he are opposite; he thinks to turn
dicate, Blake was first of all an does of my Poems, and I have me into a Portratt Painter as
engraver, an artist, and then a been forced to insist on his he did Poor Romney, but this
poet. leaving me in both to my own he nor all the devils in hell
Few letters in the collection con- Self Will; for I am determined will never do,
tamn no mention of Blake's wonk to be no longer Pester'd with The Letters also reveal
Many of them are merely receipts his Genteel Ignorance & Polite Blake's sense of social values and
acknowledging business transac- Disapprobation. his attitudes-so often expressed
tions, while the majority were Yet while these letters are first in his poetry-toward what he saw
obviously written first of all to of all business communications, as the abuses of his time. Included
discuss or make some arrangement they are also personally tragic.nh etiny torkeys
concerning the engraving business. Blake had a few good, close are papers relating to Blake's trial
From these business 1e t t e r s friends whom he admired and for uttering 'words of sedition,
comes a picture of a hard-working, thought highly of. With these per- papers that show the poet's out-
poetic artist sometimes with too sons he discussed his engravings spoiness that, c bild with his
I him some difficulty.

t
t

MAGAZINE
Vol. IV, No. 3 Sunday, November 17, 1957

This Is Ann
For campus glamour
and that just-right look
she needs no
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if she wears a shetland
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CONTENTS
WILLIAM BLAKE ........Vernon Nahrgang
POLISH STUDENTS ..........Rose Perlberg
CATULLUS ............. Richard E. Braun
AUBREY'S LIVES ........Vernon Nahrgang
EMILY DICKINSON ...... Jean Willoughby
LITERATURE & PSYCHOLOGY . T. Morrison
IGY & THE OBSERVATORY ..... David Tarr
J. FRED LAWTON ....... Lane Vanderslice
CPH ......................Gerald Lundy
BEN SHAHN ...............R. C. Gregory
T. S. ELIOT ................ R. C. Gregory
ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY..,.James Bow

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BLAKE, in a letter to George
Cumberland in July, 1800, com-
ments on 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 1te)ast a commerce of the
lowest order of luxuries should
have become a City of Mle-
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
Butchers.. ..
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
artist.
Keynes, by collecting all known
and extant letters of William
Blake and publishing them in an
anniversary year, has provided a
volume of special interest to all
readers interested in the poet
Blake on a first-hand basis. This
new edition provides a ready and
attractive reference as well as a
closer look at the man behind the
poetry.

4

MAGAZINE EDITOR: Tommy Morrison
MAGAZINE PHOTOGRAPHER: Bud Bentley
PICTURE CREDITS-Unless specified, photographs are Daily photo-
graphs by Bud Bentley. Cover: Observatory photograph courtesy
the McMath-Hulbert Observatory; Page 4: Photograph courtesy
Maria Zagorska; Page 5: Photograph of Warsaw courtesy Maria
Zagorska; Page 8: Photograph by David Tarr, courtesy The
Pontiac Press; Page 9: Daily photograph by Fred Shippey; Page
11: Organ and Oppenheimer photographs by Gary Ushman from
drawings in BEN SHAHN: HIS GRAPHIC ART; Page 13: Daily
map by Robert Snyder; Page 14: Cello photograph by Gary
Ushman; Page 15: Drummer photograph by Gary Ushmon; Page
19: Photograph courtesy Maria Zagorska.

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