1796. London: by S. Gosnell for William Miller, 1796.
Slim 4to, xi, 16 pp. With a frontispiece and 2 illustrations (headpiece and tailpiece) designed by Blake and engraved by Perry. Later full red straight-grain morocco, gilt-lettered backstrip, a fine copy with a faded inscription on the title-page "Sophia Baillie".
§ First edition with Blake’s illustrations, ridiculed in the press upon publication. One of the rarest letterpress books to contain illustrations designed by Blake. Four copies have sold in the last 40 years; two have appeared at auction. The year 1796 saw three translations of Burger’s Lenore, one by J. T. Stanley, one by H. J. Pye, the Poet Laureate, and a third by W. R. Spencer, with designs by Lady Diana Beauclerk. Blake was commissioned to create three illustrations for the Stanley translation, including the frontispiece, “Lenore, clasping her spectral bridegroom,” which is famous for supposedly having hung as a separate print in C.G. Jung’s office. The British Critic for September, 1796, spitefully compared Lady Diana’s pictures with those of Blake’s: “We are highly impressed by the propriety, decorum and grace which characterizes all the figures of this elegant artist [Lady Beauclerk], even those of a preternatural kind; forming a most striking contrast to the distorted, absurd and impossible monsters exhibited in the frontispiece to Mr. Stanley’s last edition [i.e. Blake’s design]. Nor can we pass by this opportunity of execrating that detestable taste, founded on the depraved fancy of one man of genius, which substitutes deformity and extravagance for force and expression, and draws men and women without skin, with their joints all dislocated; or imaginary beings which neither can nor ought to exist.” The Analytical Review chimed in with comments including “perfectly ludicrous, instead of terrific.” Bentley, Blake Books, 440. Easson and Essick, William Blake Book Illustrator, vol. 2, XLVI. Bindman, Complete Graphic Works of Blake, 380-382. Item #124644