Some readers may want to pursue the study of Blake beyond the
elementary introduction which we have provided. Such a pursuit
could well begin with a review of the literature on Blake. We can
dispose of the l9th Century with a couple of pages and proceed to
the standard interpretive works.
The descent of Blake's thought from his death down to the present
follows two streams, which we may call the secular and the spiritual.
This is a rational and obviously imperfect categorization,
The secular stream, the wider of the two, includes most of the better
known Blakeans and a variety of types: literary and other aesthetes,
historians, political writers, and psychologists. Needless to say many
of these Blakeans had spiritual interests of one sort or another.
However the narrow band of what I will call the spiritual type
consists of writers with an explicitly spiritual orientation; their
primary interest in Blake lies in the realm of his spiritual ideas.
By and large they confessed the same basic interest in the eternal
that Blake expressed with every line of his art, literary or
graphic. This narrow band understood what Blake meant by art quite
differently than did the others; they perceived art as a synonym for
the life of the spirit. Most of those who called themselves Christians
recognized Blake as one.
Unfortunately most avowed Christian writers and scholars have
viewed Blake with horror, advocating 'free love'; they haven't taken
the trouble to study Blake sufficiantly to realize how thoroughly
Christian his ideas are.