Blackwell North Amer Along with poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge one of the great voices of English Romanticism, William Blake produced a rich and unusual body of work around the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that is still widely read and anthologized today. A man at once of his time and outside of it, Blake created a mass of poetry, prose, and visual art that says as much about the religious and political debates of his day as it does about such universal concerns as the power of the human mind and imagination. Seeing himself as both protester and prophet, Blake may have "special relevance" to the contemporary reader, writes Victor Paananen, because of his ability to demonstrate that civilization "is threatened with dissolution only because it fails to heed the Saviour, who is - literally for Blake - within each individual." In this updated version of the author's 1977 edition on the poet, artist, and engraver William Blake, Paananen decodes the mystery of Blake's artistic world and makes clear its relevance to the contemporary reader. Paananen works from the premise that truly understanding even the seemingly simple in Blake's work requires understanding the complex. Such familiar poems as "The Lamb" and "The Tyger" from Songs of Innocence and Experience take on more layers of meaning once Paananen leads the reader through the "bewildering maze" of "visionary Christianity, radical politics, and self-generated myth" that Blake developed so elaborately in his major epic poems - The Four Zoas, Milton, and Jerusalem. In the two decades since the first edition of William Blake appeared, there has been a vast outpouring of criticism, most of it exploring the relationship between Marxist and Blakean thought. Paananen draws on the achievements of recent Marxist critics of Blake and on his own analysis of Blake's thought to show that Blake and Marx shared common philosophic perspectives that arose from their similar views of the thought of their age.