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Michael Phillips, ed., William Blake (1757-1827): Le Génie visionnaire du romantisme anglais


Philippa Simpson

The title of the 2009 Petit Palais exhibition and its accompanying catalogue offers an extraordinarily loaded and complex epithet: “The Visionary Genius of English Romanticism.” Both the show and the book, an illustrated collection of essays and other reactions written in or translated into French, were clearly shaped by the need to (re)introduce Blake to a French audience. As is pointed out more than once in the book, there had been no major exhibition of Blake’s art in the country since 1947. Indeed, for the second half of the twentieth century Blake’s reputation had rested largely on his writings, which were repeatedly translated, and were championed by a number of French cultural heroes, including Pierre Berger and André Gide. At the Petit Palais, by reuniting series of drawings, prints, and paintings, attention was focused instead upon the processes involved in Blake’s image-making and his role as a visual artist, not to overturn but to augment the received perception of him as a writer.


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Department of English
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