More Blake Preliminaries

[William Blake – Illustration for  John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress –  Plate 20 The Christian Fights Apollyon ‘ “It’s my favorite in all of Blake” (Allen Ginsberg)]

AG: (I brought) that three-volume set (of William Blake) here, so it’s up in the library in Reference, if you want to look at it.  And, (I don’t think I told you), I brought my own home collection of Blake to Naropa, and I’ve put it in the library for your perusal, (so it’s maybe twenty or thirty books  – big things and little books,  lots and lots of pictures,  lots and lots of color plates).  There’s the second edition of the first biography of Blake, the (Alexander) Gilchrist biography, which is the great edition, which is worth several hundred dollars, beautifully printed (with) a stamped cover and with illustrations and the first biography, so the first gossip about Blake.  There’s all sorts of books on his prosody, his catalogs of exhibitions of his etchings.  I think there’s a complete book by Laurence Binyon which has all of his etchings, complete.  There’s several books which have all of his journeyman hackwork; the work he did for making a living; making copies and prints and etchings. There’s a lot of books there. There’s a big huge volume I think of (Thomas) Gray’s “Elegy– Gray’s poems.  Blake’s illustrations for Gray’s poems, which are fantastical, and large – a book like that – and in color. There are his illustrations for (John Bunyan’s) Pilgrim’s Progress, which are really a knock-out.  Some of the most frightening and terrific tantric-looking electrical deities (like Christian meeting Apollyon for Pilgrim’s  Progress). I would recommend you checking that out, that one illustration.  It’s my favorite in all of Blake. There’s illustrations for (Edward) Young’s “Night Thoughts”.  So if you want, what I would suggest is, go and spend an afternoon there and just immerse (yourself) in all the pictures. And all the odd books that have all the illustrations.  And you’ll see the first collection of Blake. You’ll see how Blake evolved.
AG: His (William Blake’s)  work was unavailable from his time until 1880 or so, when (Dante Gabriel) Rossetti and  (Alexander) Gilchrist and  (W.B.)Yeats and a few other people began picking up on him and recycling him into history.  As it stood, he was thought of as “Mad Blake”, and forgotten, for almost a century,  about 80 years after his death. Or put aside, or one or two poems anthologized, but the body of his work unavailable, because it only existed in his own copies. And each book (was) separately handprinted and colored by him, so they were.. (except for very rich people or rare aficionados), they weren’t available.  And, as a matter of fact, it was not possible to get (to) study Blake very easily, not in a classroom like (this) – (did I mention this?)  – until 1965, or so. Until 1974, actually.  Did I talk about this?  Well, dig the books that I recommended.  One is…. … Erdman…. [here, at approximately fifty-nine-and-three-quarter minutes in, recording begins to malfunction again] ..(a) text which is copied accurately… the scholars have been working on it for years and years and they finally got it together.  For instance…. … and then I think (that) in Pittsburgh…

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-six-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty minutes in]


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