Poetical Sketches.

1926. London: Noel Douglas, 1926.

8vo, 70pp.Original paper over boards with title on spine. Very good, with spine a touch darkened and light dusting to original cream boards, and slight spotting to endpapers.

§ Trade edition of this handsome facsimile of the very rare original edition of 1783. “The original 1783 copies were seventy-two pages in length, printed in octavo by John Flaxman's aunt, who owned a small print shop in the Strand, and paid for by Anthony Stephen Mathew and his wife Harriet, dilettantes to whom Blake had been introduced by Flaxman in early 1783. Each individual copy was hand-stitched, with a grey back and a blue cover, reading "POETICAL SKETCHES by W.B." It was printed without a table of contents and many pages were without half titles. Of the extant copies, eleven contain corrections in Blake's handwriting. Poetical Sketches is one of only two works by Blake to be printed conventionally with typesetting; the only other extant work is The French Revolution in 1791, which was to be published by Joseph Johnson. However, it never got beyond the proof copy, and was thus not actually published.

Even given the modest standards by which the book was published, it was something of a failure. Alexander Gilchrist noted that the publication contained several obvious misreadings and numerous errors in punctuation, suggesting that it was printed with little care and was not proofread by Blake (thus the numerous handwritten corrections in printed copies). Gilchrist also notes that it was never mentioned in the Monthly Review, even in the magazine's index of "Books noticed", which listed every book published in London each month, signifying that the publication of the book had gone virtually unnoticed. Nevertheless, Blake himself was proud enough of the volume that he was still giving copies to friends as late as 1808, and when he died, several unstitched copies were found amongst his belongings.” Bentley, BB, 132. Item #110715

Price: $75.00

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