All Text and No Image Makes Blake a Dull Artist: Inseparable Interplay Between Poetry and Picture in Blake's Multimedia Art

Peter Heath


Though certain Blake scholars may assert that it is superfluous to argue for the need to read or experience his illuminated works as both image and text, major canonical anthologies print the Songs of Innocence and Experience as written text without visuals. Incorporating and refuting ideas from W.J.T. Mitchell, Christopher Heppner, and Joseph Viscomi, this article argues that word-only representations of Blake's multimedia art are fundamentally flawed, and then proposes and demonstrates a practice for reading Blake's works as a multiplication between image and text. Taking The Sick Rose, Earth's Answer, and The Chimney Sweeper as examples, this argument develops potential readings of the interactions between Blake's media, and offers simple yet logical interpretations by viewing Blake's plates as comprehensive wholes rather than two distinct, separable works that happen to bear the same title.


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