[Humanist] 23.359 new on WWW: update to the Blake Archive
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Oct 8 07:52:24 CEST 2009
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 359.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
Date: Wed, 7 Oct 2009 14:05:13 -0400 (EDT)
From: William S Shaw <wsshaw at email.unc.edu>
Subject: Update to the William Blake Archive
7 October 2009
The William Blake Archive http://www.blakearchive.org is pleased to
announce the publication of an electronic edition of Blake's ten
monochrome wash drawings illustrating Mary Wollstonecraft's _Original
Stories from Real Life_ and the first and second editions of the book
containing Blake's six engravings of his designs. The designs and
inscribed texts in all three series are fully searchable and are supported
by our Inote and ImageSizer applications.
In 1788, Joseph Johnson published the first edition of Mary
Wollstonecraft's morally instructive narrative for children, _Original
Stories from Real Life; with Conversations, Calculated to Regulate the
Affections, and Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness_. A few years later,
Johnson decided to issue a new edition, for which he commissioned Blake to
prepare a series of illustrations. Blake's extant drawings, now in the
Rosenwald Collection, Library of Congress, are datable to c. 1791. In
addition to these ten designs, Blake must have executed at least one
further drawing as a preliminary for his fifth plate; this drawing is
untraced. Six designs were selected for publication in the 1791 edition
of Wollstonecraft's book; Blake engraved the designs himself. The first
and second states of Blake's plates appear variously in copies of the 1791
edition. The second edition to contain Blake's plates was published by
Johnson in 1796; it contains the third (final) states of Blake's plates.
The copy of the 1791 edition now in the Archive is from the Huntington
Library; it contains the second states of the plates. The copy of the
1796 edition in the Archive is from the Essick collection and contains the
third (final) states of the plates.
Modern interpreters of the illustrations have detected a pictorial
critique of Wollstonecraft's stories. Blake appears to have found her
morality too calculating, rationalistic, and rigid. He represents
Wollstonecraft's spokesperson, Mrs. Mason, as a domineering presence. From
Blake's perspective, Mason's acts of charity are excessively condescending
and tend to reinforce the underlying social conditions that create
disparities between wealth and poverty. As Blake wrote in "The Human
Abstract," "Pity would be no more, / If we did not make somebody Poor."
With this publication, the Archive adds a new set of scholarly tools.
These tools, known collectively as our Related Works system, are designed
to show relationships among works and individual objects in the Archive.
They function at two levels. First, work index pages now include active
links to related materials in the Archive (for example, a set of
preliminary sketches for a group of engravings). Second, the Show Me menu
on object view pages now includes Related Works in the Archive. Like the
work-level menu, this list includes active links to the related objects
and is meant to allow study of the related materials side-by-side. The
Wollstonecraft illustrations are the first publication in the Archive to
use this feature.
As always, the William Blake Archive is a free site, imposing no access
restrictions and charging no subscription fees. The site is made possible
by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the cooperation of
the international array of libraries and museums that have generously
given us permission to reproduce works from their collections in the
Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Ashley Reed, project manager, William Shaw, technical editor
The William Blake Archive
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