WILLIAM BLAKE’S CONVERSATIONS: A Compilation, Concordance, and Rhetorical Analysis

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Dedicated to the analysis of William Blake’s conversations, this study examines how the poet’s pronunciation and dialect influence the full or partial consonance of his rhymes.


“As presenter of conversational Blake, Bentley loosens the buttons of his formal scholarly persona, making the rounds of friendly introductions, genially engaging the reader with jokes about his own pronunciations and colloquialisms, and unobtrusively stepping aside to invite Blake to say whatever he’d like. Especially in quoting the “ancients,” the band of young artists who brightened Blake’s later years, Bentley conveys a vivid sense of what it must have been like to converse with Blake at his most sociable, “so entertaining and pleasant, possessing such novel thoughts and eccentric notions, together with such jocose hilarity and amiable demeanor, that he frequently found himself asked to stay to dinner. . .” At this latter-day gathering to honor the quotable Blake, Bentley is the ideal host.” - Prof. Mary Lynn Johnson, University of Iowa

“Here Bentley’s findings, which, with his usual impeccable scholarship, draw on eighteenth-century lexicography as well as a lifetime’s work on Blake and Blakeana, at their most interesting and original. He shows that often rhymes that appear to be half-rhymes or eye-rhymes are likely much more often than modern pronunciations might suggest in Blake’s speech to have been full rhymes.”- Prof. David Fuller, University of Durham

“. . . an invaluable concordance in which the reader can look up what Blake had to say about any particular subject. For example if you want to know what Blake thought of Napoleon or of the apocalyptic preacher Edward Irving, you will find it here and not in any of his writings.” – Prof. Morton D. Paley, University of California at Berkeley

"Those modern readers who are thoroughly acquainted with Autographic Blake may find the shimmery Anecdotal Blake who rises in these pages to be an uncanny and alien creature, but it intriguing to hear his voice, and like any chatty ghost he may have things to tell us [from] beyond the grave." -- Alexander S. Gourlay

Table of Contents

Table of Illustrations
Abbreviations and Symbols
Foreword by Mary Lynn Johnson
1. Blake’s Conversation
2. The Tao of Blake
3. The Sculptured Sheep
4. Blake’s Uncommon Sense
5. Blake’s Pronunciation
6. Blake’s Rhymes
7. Table of Dictionary Pronunciations
8. Blake’s Vocabulary
9. The Reliability of the Conversations
10. Conversations of James Blake
11. Conversations of Robert Blake
12. Conversations of Catherine Blake
13. Descriptions of Blake as a Conversationalist
Thus Spake William Blake
Blake’s Imperfect Rhymes: Eye Rhymes, Near Rhymes, and Odd Rhymes
Table of Rhyme Sounds
Concordance of William Blake’s Conversations
Bibliography Index

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