The Moment of Explosion: Blake and the Illustration of Milton
U of Nebraska Press, 1983 M01 1 - 211 pages
William Blake thought that John Milton had been betrayed by both his commentators and his illustrators, and he set out to recover Milton's vision, particularly in Paradise Lost, from the misguided academic and Augustan misinterpretation to which it had been subjected.
The Moment of Explosion: Blake and the Illustration of Milton is the first detailed. analysis of all of Blake's illustrations for Milton's poetry. Blake explicitly believed he was correcting errors that Milton wanted corrected, and he felt that his illustration was interpretive criticism in its highest sense, a re-vision that would broadcast Milton's revolutionary ethic afresh. Stephen C. Behrendt blends a close reading of Blake and Milton with meticulous and provocative examination of the illustrations of Blake, his predecessors, and his contemporaries. The focus on visual art as criticism establishes the book as a major essay on the interaction of the arts within and across cultural periods. Fifty-four black-and-white illustrations document that radical, Romantic assault by Blake on tradition in the name of tradition. The highlight of the book is Blake's two sets of Paradise Lost illustrations, reproduced here in twenty-four color plates?Blake's final statements on Paradise Lost and the culmination of his aesthetic and critical development.
This beautiful book presents a wealth of illustration previously scattered or inaccessible. It will be of major interest to students of Blake, Milton, Romanticism, art history, and the history of ideas.