William Blake gets his due today as not only a great poet but also an extraordinary, 18th-century English engraver, artist, and visionary. A boldly imaginative rebel in both his thought and his art, he combined poetic and pictorial genius to explore important issues in politics, religion, and psychology.
His poetry, however, could be undeniably strange. Deeply spiritual, he professed to visions. And in his own lifetime, Blake was generally neglected or dismissed (improperly) as mad.
Acclaimed scholar and author Leo Damrosch, the emeritus Ernest Bernbaum Research Professor of Literature at Harvard University, examines this iconic but enigmatic figure in a discussion of his new book. Damrosch last spoke at the Library in May 2014 about Jonathan Swift: His Life & His World, for which he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.