cover image Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake

Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake

Leo Damrosch. Yale Univ., $30 (336p) ISBN 978-0-300-20067-6

Damrosch (Jonathan Swift) extends “an invitation to understanding and enjoyment” of poet William Blake (1757–1827) by bringing to life the inner logic and “imaginative reality” that governs his body of work. This exemplary study begins with a primer on reading Blake’s verse, presented alongside his engravings, and goes on to explicate the artist’s “dynamic, not iconic” recurrent symbols, revolutionary ideas, and “personal myth” that over his lifetime grew “challengingly complicated and increasingly strange.” At ease with the complexities of the historical period as well as his subject’s inward torments, Damrosch leads the reader through Blake’s life and work with thoughtful clarity and frequent affection, exploring the well-studied poems and making accessible more abstruse works such as The Four Zoas, Milton, and Jerusalem. Damrosch’s readings are nuanced, sensitive, and deeply perceptive, touched with wonder at the poet’s originality and alive to the ways that Blake’s beliefs presented “a wide-ranging challenge to orthodox morality.” With generous illustrations, including a gallery of breathtaking full-color plates, Damrosch’s study will build an appreciation among scholars and general readers alike for Blake’s “vast, complicated myth” and reinforce his place in the Western canon as a “profound thinker” and creative genius “not in a single art but in two.” 40 color plates and 56 b&w illus. (Oct.)