Dante’s ‘Deep and Woody Way’

  • Jeremy Tambling


In autumn 1824, when beginning his Dante illustrations, Blake was living up a wainscotted staircase, in a two-roomed apartment in 3 Fountain Court on the south side of the Strand, surrounded by warehouses. From the back window he peered ‘down a deep gap between the houses of Fountain Court and the parallel street, in this way commanding a view of the Thames with its muddy banks, and of distant Surrey or Kent hills beyond’. While the river was ‘like a bar of gold’, Crabb Robinson referred to ‘the squalid air, both of the apartment and [Blake’s] dress’, and to the ‘dirt, I might say filth’ that Blake and his wife existed in (BR 564–7, SP 393). Here he worked — ‘too much attach’d to Dante to think of much else’ (letter to Linnell, 25 April 1827, E. 784, K. 879) — until his body, ‘the Machine’ (E. 778, K. 873), as though it, like the tyger, was part of an industrial manufacturing process, proved ‘incapable’ in August 1827.


World City Paradise Lost Industrial Manufacturing Process National Ideology Chimney Sweep 
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© Jeremy Tambling 2005

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  • Jeremy Tambling

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