William Blake

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WILLIAM BLAKE
William Blake was an engraver.
The most important literary influence in his life was the Bible, because it presented a complete scheme, a total vision of the world and its history. The other influence was his younger brother Robert who died at the age of twenty. Blake began to have visions of his dead brother and claimed that he showed him the unique printing method he employed for his original work. 


Blake the artist
He was also influenced by the works of Raphael and Michelangelo. This influence is clear especially in the exaggerated muscular form in his best-known illustrations.
He identified Gothic with an ideal of spiritual and living art in contrast with the mechanical art of the materialistic classical world. He didn’t respect the standards and broke with conventions and created a new kind of art which emphasized the power of the imagination. He used painting and poetry for his prints. For him painting was not simply the illustration of poetry, it was its counterpart. Much of Blake’s painting dealt with religious subjects. He also left a cycle of drawings inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. 


Blake the poet 
He was a Romantic poet because he rejected neoclassical literary style and themes. He stressed the importance of imagination over reason and believed that ideal forms should be created not from observations of nature but from inner visions. The collections of short lyrical verses Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794) are the most accessible of Blake’s works. In these songs the use of symbolic imagery is simple: there are lambs, flowers and children playing on the village green. It deals with childhood as the symbol of innocence, a state of the soul connected with happiness, freedom and imagination. The Songs of Innocence were produced before the outbreak of the French Revolution, when Blake’s enthusiasm for liberal ideas was high, the Songs of Experience appeared when the period of the Terror was at its height in France. A pessimistic view of life emerges in these songs which are intended to be read together with the Songs of Innocence. Experience, identified with adulthood, coexists with and completes Innocence, thus providing another point of view on reality.