Studies on Blake’s reception

As this is the main focus of my own research, the following is an introduction to the main publications that have appeared dealing with the reception of Blake’s work. The top-10 format is simply to make this manageable, and most of the following are books although Mike Goode’s Blakespotting is a superb article. Published in chronological order, they demonstrate that this is a relatively new field in Blake studies (with a few honourable precursors). Anyone interested is also recommended to refer to Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly which frequently includes articles on Blake’s influence.

1. Dorfman, D. Blake in the Nineteenth Century (Yale UP: 1969). Still the best guide to Blake’s reception in the immediate period after his death. While the theory of reception has moved on considerably since publication of this book, it is a comprehensive study of literary and artistic influences.

2. Bertholf, R. and Levitt, A. Blake and the Moderns (SUNY: 1982). A collection of essays including ones by Hazard Adams on Blake and Yeats and Robert Gleckner on Joyce, this concentrates on the literature and has largely been superseded by Larrissy (see below) but still worth reading.

3. Dent, S. and Whittaker, J. Radical Blake: Influence and Afterlife from 1827 (Palgrave: 2002) A polemic and wide-ranging survey organised thematically rather than chronologically. This is the first to try and extend studies of reception beyond literature and the fine arts and, because of this, is inevitably full of gaps.

4. Tambling, J. Blake’s Night Thoughts (Palgrave: 2005) Although not devoted to reception of Blake alone (dealing more generally with Blake as a poet and artist of the night), there is some very useful material here on his influence on figures such as Blanchot and Mann.

5. Larrissy, E. William Blake and Modern Literature (Palgrave: 2006) The best survey of Blake’s influence on literature since the very end of the nineteenth until the late twentieth centuries. Focuses on high rather than popular formats, but more coherent because of this.

6. Clark, S., and Suzuki, M. The Reception of Blake in the Orient (Continuum: 2006) Blake’s printmaking ironically brought him wider acceptance at an early stage in Japan, at least as an artist, than in western Europe and America, and this collection of essays deals with Blake’s relation to orientalism as well as how he was used by figures such as Yanagi Soetsu.

7. Goode, Mike, Blakespotting (PMLA, 121.3: 2006). An excellent and witty survey of the uses of Blake in popular culture, beginning with Donald Trump’s use of the Proverbs of Heaven and Hell.

8. Clark, S., and Whittaker, J. Blake, Modernity and Popular Culture (Palgrave: 2007). With two essays on Blake’s contemporary circles, most essays in this collection deal with reception during the Victorian period through to the beginning of the twenty-first century.

9. Ault, D. and Whitson, R. William Blake and Visual Culture (ImageTexT, 3.2: 2007) ImageTexT is devoted to interdisciplinary comics studies, and there is some material here on Blake’s influence on graphic novels as well as other visual forms.

10. Trodd, C. Visions of Blake: William Blake in the Art World, 1830-1930 (Liverpool UP: 2010) Forthcoming. Will offer the most comprehensive view yet of Blake’s artistic influence in the century after his death.