13.0323 new from the Blake Archive

Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Fri, 17 Dec 1999 07:23:09 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 323.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 10:01:01 -0500 (EST)
From: Matt Kirschenbaum <mgk3k@jefferson.village.virginia.edu>
Subject: Blake Archive's December Update

14 December 1999

The William Blake Archive <http://www.iath.virginia.edu/blake/> is pleased
to announce the publication of new electronic editions of _The Songs of
Innocence and of Experience_ copies R and AA. Copy AA has been reproduced
only once previously, as a microfilm many years ago; copy R has never been
reproduced before.

_Songs_ copies R and AA are both in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge,
England. They join copies of _Songs_ in the Archive from other printings:
copies C (1789/1794), F (1789/1794), L (1795), and Z (1826). Copies O and
V, from 1795 and c. 1818 printings, are forthcoming.

The electronic editions have newly edited SGML-encoded texts and new
images scanned and color-corrected from first-generation 4x5"
transparencies; text and images are each fully searchable and supported
by the Inote and ImageSizer applications described in our previous

With the publication of these two titles, the Archive now contains 39
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_

We are also pleased to announce that the Archive was recently named to
the NEH's prestigious EDSITEment list of "Top Humanities Web Sites"

Copy R, printed and colored c. 1795, is of special interest because it was
Blake's own copy and, with slight variations, provided the plate order for
the last seven copies, printed between 1818 and 1827. This was the first
time that Blake printed the _Innocence_ and _Experience_ plates in the
same session. All copies of _Songs_ produced before copy R--for example,
copies C and F in the Archive--were compiled from _Innocence_ impressions
printed in 1789 (either from the raw sienna issue, as in copy C, or green
issue, as in copy F) and _Experience_ impressions printed in 1794 (either
lightly color printed, as in copy C, or heavily color printed while
_Experience_ was still in progress, as in copy F). And copy R marks the
first time that Blake printed plates 34-36 ("The Little Girl Lost" and
"The Little Girl Found") as _Experience_ plates; in the earlier copies of
_Songs_ he printed them as _Innocence_ poems and transferred them to
_Experience_ at the time of compilation.

Though Blake printed the _Innocence_ and _Experience_ plates in the same
session, he apparently meant for them to be separate works. He printed
the plates in various shades of greenish and grayish black ink, but did
not print the combined title plate, and stabbed and numbered the two
parts as separate volumes. He produced copy R, in other words, almost
exactly as he advertised its two separate sections in his prospectus of
October 1793, where _Songs of Innocence and of Experience_ was not
advertised as such, but rather as "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of
Experience," with each part listed as a separate work and described as
"Octavo, with 25 designs, price 5s." Almost exactly, but not quite,
because copy R was printed on one side of folio-size leaves and its
_Experience_ had only twenty-four designs, since it did not include "To
Tirzah," which had not yet been executed, or plate a, which had been used
as a tailpiece in copies B-D.

_Songs_ copy R now has the combined title plate and "To Tirzah," but
both were inserted late. "To Tirzah" may have been printed and inserted
with the copy's impression of "The Tyger," which is watermarked "J
Whatman / 1808" (the only impression so marked). Both plates were
printed in a solid black ink, not the greenish and grayish black of the
other plates, and are numbered sequentially as part of _Experience_
(1-25) and thus must have been inserted before this numbering and the
numbering, in the same style and medium, of _Innocence_ (1-28). The
combined title plate was also printed in this solid black ink, but it is
unnumbered and may have been printed and/or added later, though almost
certainly before copy R was sold to Linnell in 1819, by which time the
pages had been given four framelines, the _Experience_ pages had been
renumbered 29-53 to continue the sequence of numbers in _Innocence_, and
many _Experience_ impressions had been recolored.

Copy R was produced with _Songs_ copy A as part of a set of illuminated
books printed on large paper, approximately 38 x 27 cm., the size of the
"I Taylor" paper it shares with copy A. It was trimmed to 30 x 22 cm. when
bound to match Linnell's other illuminated books. Copy R joins other works
from the large-paper 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 _Visions of the Daughters of Albion_ copy G) and forthcoming (_The
First Book of Urizen_ copy B and _Europe, a Prophecy_ copy H).

_Innocence_ and _Experience_ were printed together as a single, combined
work in 1826 to form _Songs_ copy Z, which is in the Archive, and copy AA.
Both copies sold for L5.5s., half what Blake listed _Songs_ for in an 1827
letter. Both copies Z and AA were printed in the same orange ink Blake
used ca. 1818 and 1821-22 (works from these sessions include _The Book of
Thel_ copy O, which is in the Archive, and _Jerusalem_ copy E, _America, a
Prophecy_ copy O, _Europe, a Prophecy_ copy K, _Visions of the Daughters
of Albion_ copy P, and _The Marriage of Heaven and Hell_ copy G, each of
which will enter the Archive within the next year). Like the books
produced in these sessions, both copies were given single red framelines,
though the pen and ink page numbers (1-54) were placed outside rather than
inside the frameline.

In the future, with the release of our revised site interface, users
will be able to instantly compare impressions from various copies of an
illuminated book within the same browser window. At the moment, users
need to open other browser windows to make such comparisons. Doing so with
impressions from copies AA and Z, however, is instructive and well worth
the effort. Impressions from the same plate, though printed and colored in
the same style, often appear quite different if the text was rewritten or
an image was strengthened in pen and ink (either black or red). But this
characteristically Blakean bounding line was usually necessitated by an
otherwise illegible text or undifferentiated images. Overall, the
impressions in copy AA were better printed and required less pen and ink
salvaging than those used to form copy Z.

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

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