Blake: The Complete Poems
Pearson/Longman, 2007 - 929 pages
William Blake (1757-1827) is one of the great figures in literature, by turns poet, artist and visionary. Profoundly libertarian in outlook, Blake's engagement with the issues of his day is well known and this - along with his own idiosyncratic concerns - flows through his poetry and his art. Like Milton before him, the prodigality of his allusions and references is little short of astonishing. Consequently, his longer visionary poems can challenge the modern reader, who will find in this avowedly open edition all they might need to interpret the poetry.
W. H. Stevenson's Blake is a masterpiece of scrupulous scholarship. It is, as the editor makes clear in his introduction, 'designed to be widely, and fluently, read' and this Third Edition incorporates many changes to further that aim. Many of the headnotes have been rewritten and the footnotes updated. The full texts of the early prose tracts, All Religions are One and There is No Natural Religion, are included for the first time. In many instances, Blake's capitalisation has been restored, better to convey the expressive individuality of his writing. In addition, a full colour plate section contains a representation of Blake's most significant paintings and designs. As the 250th anniversary of his birth approaches, Blake has perhaps more readers than ever before; Blake: The Complete Poems will stand those readers, new and old, in good stead for many years to come.
W. H. Stevenson worked on the first edition while Professor of English at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, where he also conducted the only known performance in Nigeria of Donizetti's opera, 'l'elisir d'amore'. Later he was Full Professor at Boston University, USA, and head of the Department of English at Calabar, Nigeria. He has also taught at Leeds and Edinburgh Universities.