Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake
by Leo Damrosch
William Blake (1757-1827) was a London-based poet and fine artist, who earned a modest living as an etcher and engraver. His craft enabled him to independently print his own poems and drawings.
Blake produced works that look like medieval illuminated manuscripts. In the hand-engraved poems with illustrations alongside, he developed a personal mythology that not only expresses his genius and deep understanding of life, but also his personal obsessions and frustrations.
Damrosch’s biography combines Blake’s life story with a presentation and analysis of his creative work. The book is lavishly illustrated and the author presents Blake’s wondrous and often obscure creations in an inspiring and accessible way.
Blake had an authority problem and he was unconventional by nature. He could not stand hypocrisy or social injustice, and regularly criticized church, elite and state. The counterculture of the 1960’s therefore championed him as one of their eternal rebels.
Blake used to talk to dead people. He also had a mystical streak—from an early age onward he had visions. Therefore, many called him a madman.
As a mystic, Blake had few otherworldly goals. He was more involved in life and aimed for an imaginative renewal of everyday existence and society: London had to be turned into a Jerusalem.
After reading Damrosch’s Eternity’s Sunrise, readers can decide for themselves if Blake was a genius, a madman, or a combination of the two.
Whatever the case, his work continues to stun and inspire.