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Vol. 55 no. 3: Winter 2021–22

To See the Worlds of a Grain of Sand: Blake and Reception

  • Sibylle Erle
14 December 2021
14 Dec. 2021


William Blake’s influence on modern culture is undeniable. Blake—​in contrast, for example, to P. B. Shelley, Wordsworth, or Byron—​has a huge presence in literature, art, and music. Striking parallels and historical evidence for connections between Blake and his modern audiences have been identified and discussed, determining why he matters. From the discussions of synergies in the intellectual and emotional climates of his time and our own arise two questions, which this special issue on Blake’s reception in Europe endeavors to address: One, what of Blake (person, poetry, and art) bridges the gulf of time, appears universal, or seems directly relevant? Two, what happens to Blake if works (texts and images) are separated and taken up by audiences that ostensibly have little in common, apart from a shared residual Christian position or other—​esoteric or secular—​values originating in Western culture? The latter, which is about ownership, leads to a further question: If there are too many idiosyncratic interpretations of Blake, does the real Blake get lost?