Blake and the Idea of the Book.
Princeton: PUP: 1993. Oblong small folio, xxxvi, 453 pp., profusely illustrated and with 13 color plates. Original cloth, dust-jacket, as new. First edition, already out of print. Bentley, Blake Books, (new edition 2000) notes on p. 11 that this is one of two books designated the most important and lastingly-influential of the last twenty-five years. Shamefully, Princeton, notorious for remaindering Essicks Separate Plates catalogue recently, has now let this work go out of print. In this highly innovative history of the book, Joseph Viscomi drastically revises our understanding of William Blake as he explores the technology behind the Illuminated Books. By using facsimiles created in his own studio, Viscomi, an experienced printmaker, offers the most complete explanation of how the illuminated plates were made, how Blakes techniques compared to other eighteenth-century print technologies, and how the plates were printed and the impressions colored. His analysis of these procedures reveals that the Illuminated Books were produced in small editions and not, as is assumed, one copy at a time and by commission. These new facts of production redefine such basic concepts in Blake scholarship as style, period, intention, and difference, which in turn alter the dates of nearly all copies of all the Illuminated Books and refute current approaches to reading and editing Blake. By placing Blakes modes of production in their historical, technical, and aesthetic context, Viscomi enables us to see how profoundly Blakes metaphors, images, symbols, themes, and analogies are grounded in graphic execution, while exposing a wealth of connections between material processes and larger meanings throughout the works.
(Item Id: 104912)