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Leo Damrosch, Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake


R. Paul Yoder

If you are a regular reader of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly, there is a good chance that you have friends who are somewhat mystified by your interest in William Blake. Leo Damrosch’s Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake is a good way to explain that interest. As Damrosch puts it, “This book draws constantly on their [Blake specialists’] insights but is intended for everyone who is attracted to Blake and would like to know more about his art and ideas” (2). His “goal is to help nonspecialists appreciate Blake’s profoundly original vision and to open ‘the doors of perception’ to the symbols in which he conveyed it” (3). Eternity’s Sunrise is almost a coffee-table book, generously illustrated with forty color plates and fifty-six black-and-white images. There are also a brief chronology and a small black-and-white map of Blake’s London. Damrosch says that his book “has a strongly biographical focus, but it is not a systematic biography” (3); of the fifteen relatively brief chapters, the first eleven follow the progress of Blake’s life and career in a way that introduces the nonspecialist to Blake’s methods and themes, the following three address Blake’s attitudes toward gender and religion, and the final chapter returns to biographical chronology and the end of Blake’s life. Damrosch’s style leads the relatively uninitiated reader gently through Blake’s sometimes baffling world, but those working in Blake studies might wish for something more challenging.


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