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Eric Pyle, William Blake’s Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Study of the Engravings, Pencil Sketches and Watercolors

Mark A. Sherman

Before Eric Pyle’s book, the only full-length, comprehensive consideration of Blake’s Dante had been Albert S. Roe’s Blake’s Illustrations to the Divine Comedy (Princeton University Press, 1953). The date of that study alone suggests a reassessment of the subject is in order, and Pyle makes it his primary objective to refute many points of Roe’s analysis, which saw Blake vigorously negating Dante’s imputed theology at every turn. Pyle, for his part, advocates a complex, nuanced relationship toward the work in which Blake undertook the more congenial enterprise of “correcting” Dante, a poet whom he admired but whose religious views were at odds with his own antinomianism.

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