London: Printed at the Trianon Press for the Trustees of the William Blake Trust, 1972. Blake, William. Limited Edition. Hardcover. Two volumes, number 522 of 540, folio and octavo sizes, unpaginated [21 plates and 10 pp. of commentary]. Fine. Item #CNJL1047
"There is No Natural Religion" is a series of gnomic aphorisms written in 1788. The plates were made by relief etching on copper, and are among Blake's earliest experiments in this method of etching for his illuminated books. The different states slightly vary in the order of the plates, with copy L (Series b) considered to be Blake's first Illuminated Book. The text as described by Geoffrey Keynes in his description "...state Blake's belief in the spiritual and mystical nature of man and the unreality of vegetable existence and reason. In the first series he has stated and reiterated the inadequacy of regarding man as a creature limited in his perceptions by his natural organs. The idea of a 'natural' religion, such as might have been satisfied by his Deist friends, Paine, Priestly and Godwin, is therefore discarded as absurd. In the second series Blake has restated in the first Proposition the essence of the first series and has then proceeded to elaborate the effect that such mental limitation would have on its possessor. He would be filled with loathing and despair, seeing nothing beyond himself performing the same dull round over and over again. Man is saved by his poetic, or 'prophetic' faculties. These make his desires infinite, not bounded by his natural organs, allowing Blake to end with the triumphant cry of the mystic announcing his identity with God."
William Blake (1757 - 1827) is arguably the most original and highly-regarded English author - unusual in that he excelled both as an author and an artist. Although thought mad by his contemporaries, he was held in high regard for his expressiveness and for the synthesis of philosophical and mystical senses within his work. Blake’s work has been spectacularly reproduced through the pochoir technique by Arnold Fawkus and his Trianon Press, which has an undeniable claim to being the finest press of its kind in the last century and has long been known for their unrivaled artworks in fine colour printing.
___DESCRIPTION: Two volumes, both in original quarter brown morocco with hand-marbled paper sides, backstrips lettered in gilt, twenty-one plates, twenty of which were reproduced by colour collotype with water-color washes by hand through stencil, and one monochrome engraving, printed on Arches pure rag paper made to match the paper used by Blake, each page is watermarked with Blake's monogram; the larger of the two volumes is folio size (12" by 9.38) and the smaller octavo size (7.25" by 5"), unpaginated [21 plates and 10 pp. of commentary], limited edition no. 522 of 540 of the regular editions (616 copies total). Both volumes housed in a single publisher's slipcase covered with the same hand-marbled paper.
___CONDITION: A fine copy, both volumes are internally bright and free of prior owner markings, covers are clean, with only a hint of age-toning to backstrips, corners are straight, text block is tight and square; overall a fine copy. Slipcase is near fine, overall clean and bright with a bit of shelfwear at edges and some minor chips at the opening; overall a fine example.
___CITATION: Bentley, Blake Books, 202.
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