New book 'William Blake: Selected Works' by Professor Peter Otto (editor)

This volume in the 21st Century Oxford Authors series offers a comprehensive selection of the work of William Blake (1757-1827)

The book includes poetry, illuminated poetry, and prose alongside selections from his letters, manuscripts, notebook, advertising pamphlets, marginalia, and works he printed in conventional letterpress. Blake's works in chronological order, according to the date when they were first printed or, in the case of unpublished works, the years in which they were composed. This arrangement brings to the foreground Blake's material and intellectual labours as a poet, painter, prophet, and non-academic philosopher; the networks of acquaintances, friends, patrons, and enemies who helped support or provoke this work; and the tumultuous historical events he responded to, which included the beginning of modern feminism, the agricultural and industrial revolutions, the American and French Revolutions, and the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.

At the same time, the edition emphasises the dynamics of Blake's composite art, with equal weight given to its verbal and visual dimensions, and highlights his developing thought on sapphism, sodomy, the body, relations between the sexes, the roots of violence, and the politics of imagination. Some editions attempt to sanitise Blake, by hiding from view the most startling elements of his thought; but in this edition Blake's sexual, political, religious, and poetic heterodoxy comes into full view. This is a Blake whose dialogue with his own time anticipates much later developments - a Blake who is provocative, unsettling, exhilarating, and somehow our contemporary.

Editor: Peter Otto

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Series: 21st Century Oxford Authors

Publication date: December 25, 2018

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William Blake: Selected Works