Five Great Paintings of Books by William Blake

Interesting Literature

William Blake was born on this day in 1757. To mark the occasion, we’ve put together five of his greatest paintings related to books – whether because they accompanied Blake’s prophetic books or other literary work (such as his poems) or because they actually feature books in a more literal sense.

IL - Blake 21. Urizen with his book. In Blake’s own mythology, Urizen (the name is possibly derived from ‘your reason’) was the Old Testament God figure, a variant of Yahweh, who stands for logic, reason, and law. Blake’s The Book of Urizen (1794) outlines Urizen’s role: his relentless reason has oppressed humanity through religious dogma. Blake’s view of the Old Testament God as an oppressive figure was coloured by his revolutionary sympathies and undoubtedly fed into his famous pronouncement on Paradise Lost (1667): he described Milton as being ‘of the Devil’s party without knowing it’. Satan in Paradise Lost stands for rebellion against…

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