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Esman, A.H. (1983). Blake and Freud: By Diana Hume George. New York: Cornell University Press, 1980. 253 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 52:129-132.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 52:129-132

Blake and Freud: By Diana Hume George. New York: Cornell University Press, 1980. 253 pp.

Review by:
Aaron H. Esman

William Blake was one of a rare breed of men, an artist who created major works in two distinct media. Not unaware of his relative uniqueness, he set as his ego ideal the figure of Michelangelo. Although Blake cannot be said to have attained to that level in his graphic output, he still produced work of unusual and haunting beauty, and his literary efforts have achieved a fame and influence that probably transcend those of his idol's poetry. He was in many ways the prototypic romantic artist—inspired, suffering, perhaps mad, but ultimately triumphant.

Much of the appeal of Blake's poems and prophecies derives from their mystical character. Particularly in the later work, Blake created out of his visionary experiences a race of quasi-deities inhabiting a mythic world, engaged in a complex and often obscure personalized enactment of the Creation and of the Birth and Fall of Man (to him one and the same). His literary models and adversaries included John Milton and Dante, whose respective accounts of Paradise Lost and of Hell he retold and revised both in words and pictures. The obscurity, ambiguity, and at times outright confusion of Blake's language and imagery make them fair game for interpretation, and, since his rediscovery by the pre-Raphaelites, a virtual industry of Blake scholarship has arisen.

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