Sunday, December 26, 2010


Michael Bedard has written a biography of William Blake which is directed to young adults. Although it is easy to read, it is thorough and reliable. He titled it William Blake: The Gates of Paradise and he organized it around the plates in Blake's poem of that title. He follows Blake's life by using an image from Gates of Paradise (which was originally addressed 'For Children') as a preface to each chapter of the book.

Chapter Six titled Lambeth: The Figure on the Stairs uses Plate 8 showing the infant emerging from the egg, captioned "At Length for Hatching Ripe He Breaks the Shell." The text deals with the economic and social situation which was disrupting the lives of the people through industrialization in Blake's day. Of the vision of the figure on the stairs Bedard says: "Perhaps the grim figure on the staircase hailed from the dark world that occupied Blake's mind so much at that time. For now he was busy putting together the poems that would depict the contrary state to the joyful vision of Songs of Innocence."

The cost of the book was kept down by not using color illustrations, but the pictures are numerous and well chosen. The book is indexed, contains source notes and a bibliography. Bedard's book is an ideal introduction to Blake for anyone not acquainted with the rigors of the life of one whose imagination belied his outward circumstances.

1 comment:

Susan J. said...

Oh. My. Goodness.

This is not just a bio, this is a bio by MICHAEL BEDARD -- one of my absolute FAVORITE... cartoonists? He defies genre. Childrens books, novels, cartoons... Far and away my favorite is "Sitting Ducks" which books spawned a Canadian TV cartoon series by the same name...

So now Bedard is channeling Blake, eh? WONDERFUL!

Here's one of the Bedard cartoons in which D and I see ourselves:

Note the headline of the brochure or newspaper the one duck is perusing.... >> sigh <<