Review

William Blake vs. The World by John Higgs: An Invitation to Blake’s Artistic Journey

Montaine Dumont 28 November 2022 min Read

Painter, poet, printmaker (and even called a prophet by many) of the pre-Romantic period in UK, William Blake is the subject of a recent book published this year by Pegasus Books. In William Blake vs. the World, the author, John Higgs, proposes new keys to reading the life and art of this unique artist, allowing readers to become more immersed in his work… and in their own lives.

And Throughout all eternity

I forgive you

You forgive me.

William Blake

Broken Love.

william blake john higgs: Book cover of William Blake vs. The World by John Higgs. Published in 2022 by Pegasus Books.

Book cover of William Blake vs. The World by John Higgs. Published in 2022 by Pegasus Books.

William Blake, A Poetic Life

Born in London in 1757, above a hosier’s shop, William Blake had, at first sight, a difficult daily life unmarked by great adventures. Having hardly left his hometown, his main and obsessive occupation was engraving. In reality, the multifaceted artist developed a certain power of vision that he himself called “poetic genius”, “prophetic genius”, or, more simply, “imagination.”

william blake john higgs: Thomas Phillips, Portrait of William Blake, 1807, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK.

Thomas Phillips, Portrait of William Blake, 1807, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK.

Unique and Visionary Artist

This “poetic genius” and this disproportionate imagination meant to him a world more precise, more alive, and more true than that which is delivered to us by the simple glance carried on things and events. Thus, John Higgs recalls in his book that Blake’s writings underline the importance of seeing “through” rather than “with” the eye. The author describes in detail the imaginative capacities of Blake and their meanings. Thus, through his visions, Blake created his “own mythology”, helping him to visualize his personal concerns and difficulties.

william blake john higgs: William Blake, The Ancient of Days, 1794, private collection. Pinterest.

William Blake, The Ancient of Days, 1794, private collection. Pinterest.

John Higgs: An Ode to William Blake

There is certainly another world, but it is in this one.

Paul Éluard

Author of a number of books published in Great Britain, such as I Have America Surrounded, Stranger Than We Can Imagine, and The Future Starts Here, John Higgs thus introduces his work with these words, making the link with the visionary introspection capacities of William Blake.

In this book, his first published in America, the author presents Blake as “an archetypal misunderstood genius” as well as a bearer of “a rare inclusive symbol of human identity”. Embellished with 30 integrated illustrations, the book aims to analyze in depth the fact that Blake has famously experienced visions. Using the work of neuroscientists and psychologists, it is a question here of contextualizing the eccentric production of this artist by bringing new elements relating to the scientific field.

william blake john higgs: William Blake, Frontispiece of The Song of Los, the scene represents Urizen presiding over the decline of morality, 1795. Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

William Blake, Frontispiece of The Song of Los, the scene represents Urizen presiding over the decline of morality, 1795. Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

John Higgs’ postulate is thus to seriously study and apprehend Blake’s visions to better understand the man and his artistic and literary production. To do this, the author goes back in detail on the life of the man, borrowing many points of view – including, above all, those of his relatives – but also on his artistic production as well as his late recognition.

william blake john higgs: William Blake, Newton, 1795–1805, Tate Britain, London, UK.

William Blake, Newton, 1795–1805, Tate Britain, London, UK.

Through the meticulous study of the life, art, and imaginative capacities of this fascinating artist, John Higgs invites the reader to realize their own introspection. He offers us a new reading of works by this timeless and visionary artist. And finally, more than anything, Higgs reminds us of the importance of imagination.

william blake john higgs: John Flaxman, Portrait of William Blake, c. 1804. Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

John Flaxman, Portrait of William Blake, c. 1804. Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

William Blake vs. the World by John Higgs is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and IndieBound.

Get your daily dose of art

Click and follow us on Google News to stay updated all the time

Recommended

Review

Book Review: The Fabergé Girl by Ina Christova

The Fabergé Girl, written by Ina Christova, takes you on a beautiful journey into early 20th century Saint Petersburg to explore side-by-side the...

Joanna Kaszubowska 16 May 2024

El PEZ, mural in Barcelona, Montana Colors Review

The Art Lover’s Guide to Barcelona – Ruby Boukabou

Barcelona is a wonderful city, with more than enough attractions to keep you busy, no matter how long you come for, or what your interest is. But...

Joanna Kaszubowska 13 May 2024

Review

Do Good. Buy Art. Here’s How.

Written by New York cultural economist Magnus Resch, How to Collect Art (Phaidon Press, January 2024) tells the story of the art market as a place in...

Helen Jeffery 9 May 2024

Review

Mothers of Invention: The Feminist Roots of Contemporary Art – Book Review

The book Mothers of Invention: The Feminist Roots of Contemporary Art comprises an innovative collection of essays by four different authors. Each...

Kaena Daeppen 29 April 2024