13.0203 new on WWW: Blake Archive update

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Wed, 22 Sep 1999 07:37:33 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 203.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 06:27:02 +0100
From: Matt Kirschenbaum <mgk3k@jefferson.village.virginia.edu>
Subject: Blake Archive's September Update

20 September 1999

The William Blake Archive <http://www.iath.virginia.edu/blake> is pleased
to announce the publication of new electronic editions of _The Book of
Thel_ copy J and _Visions of the Daughters of Albion_ copy G.

_The Book of Thel_ is dated 1789 by Blake on the title page, but the first
plate (Thel's Motto) and the last (her descent into the netherworld)
appear to have been completed and first printed in 1790, while Blake was
working on _The Marriage of Heaven and Hell_. Copy J is from the first of
three printings of _Thel_, during which Blake produced at least
thirteen copies, printed in five different inks to diversify his stock.
Copies from this press run were certainly on hand when Blake included the
book in his advertisement "To the Public" of October 1793: "The Book of
Thel, a Poem in Illuminated Printing. Quarto, with 6 designs, price 3s."
Copy J joins copies in the Archive from the other two printings: copy F,
printed and colored c. 1795, and copy O, printed and colored c. 1818. It
also joins copy H, which is from the first printing, and, like copy J, is
printed in green ink and lightly finished in watercolors. Copy J, however,
was recolored when two of its questions ("Why a tender curb upon
the youthful burning boy!/Why a little curtain of flesh on the bed of our
desire?") on plate 8 were deleted. The lines were scraped away from the
paper, apparently by Blake, since the washes over it--and those added to
the other texts as well--are in his hand. This second tinting also
included pen and ink outlining, the modeling of figures through the
addition of complementary colors and shadows, and the over-painting of
Thel's yellow dress with green on plate 6. Texts streaked in light
yellows, pinks, and blues were characteristic of Blake's later coloring
style and suggests that the recoloring occurred around the time the work
was sold, c. 1816.

This refinishing may have been undertaken to make the book more compatible
with the dark hues of _Visions of the Daughters of Albion_ copy G, with
which it appears to have been sold, and with which it was bound, probably
by their original owner, c. 1816. In keeping with the poem's dark events
and brooding mood, the hand coloring of _Visions_ copy G is impressively
detailed and sombre. Rather than tinting the designs with
semi-transparent washes in single hues, as in the first coloring session,
Blake layered his colors to deepen the tones. This style shows the
influence of color printing on Blake's hand coloring during the 1794-96
period. The techniques used for copy G even include some stipple-like
effects imitating the reticulations caused by color printing. Washes were
also added in text margins on plates 5, 7, 10, and 11, with a splendid
sunrise bursting into the text on plate 3, as in late copies O and P. Copy
G is unusual in other respects as well. The frontispiece and title page
are placed sequentially, as in copies O and P, rather than facing each
other, but uniquely with the title page coming first. This unconventional
arrangement is confirmed by Blake's pen and ink plate numbers. He
originally etched numbers 2-3, 5-7 in the top right corners of plates 5-6,
8-10, but all leaves in copy G are foliated in pen and ink in a single
sequence, 1-11, with the new numbers written over the old on plates 5-6,

Copy G was printed and colored c. 1795 as part of a set of illuminated
books printed on large paper and joins other works from that set now in
the Archive (_The Book of Thel_ copy F, _The Marriage of Heaven and Hell_
copy D, _There is No Natural Religion_ copy L, _All Religions are One_
copy A, and _America, a Prophecy_ copy A) and forthcoming (_The First Book
of Urizen_ copy B and _Europe, a Prophecy_ copy H). It also joins copies
of _Visions_ in the Archive from other printings: copies C and J,
different issues from the first printing of 1793, and copy F, color
printed c. 1794. Copy P, an exemplary copy from the fourth and final
printing of c. 1818, is forthcoming.

In Blake's advertisement, _Visions_ was described as "Folio, with 8
designs, price 7s.6d." Copy G, though, was trimmed to quarto size when
bound with _Thel_ copy J. Both works are now in the Houghton Library,
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The electronic editions have newly edited SGML-encoded texts and new
images scanned and color-corrected from first-generation 8x10"
transparencies; they are each fully searchable for both text and images
and supported by the Inote and ImageSizer applications described in our
previous updates.

With the publication of these two titles, the Archive now contains 37
copies of 18 separate books, including at least one copy of every one of
Blake's works in illuminated printing except the 100 plates of _Jerusalem_

Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, Technical Editor
The William Blake Archive

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