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Illustrations of the Book of Job - Image, Text and Frame (SE)

When Blake started to prepare for the engravings, he added frames filled with decorative designs and inscriptions. There is very little text. The story is told through the interplay of image, frame and text.

The writing would have been engraved in mirror-writing to make it appear the right way round on the printed page.

The texts originate from the Bible, the Book of Job mostly.  They are often slightly altered perhaps because Blake was quoting from memory.

Are Blake’s texts captions to the illustrations, or words of dialogue spoken by the figures in his images? What are we to make of his choices and juxtapositions of texts and images? Is Blake critical of what is happening to Job?.

The following is an example of how Blake adapts a passage from Job 19:22-27, (http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/book.php?book=Job&chapter=19&verse=22)  which appears at the bottom of plate 11:

passage from Job 19:22-27

Why do you persecute me as God & are not satisfied with my flesh. Oh that my words / were printed in a Book that they were graven with an iron pen & lead in the rock for ever / For I know that my Redeemer liveth & that he shall stand in the latter days upon / the Earth & after my skin destroy thou This body yet in my flesh shall I see God / whom I shall see for Myself and mine eyes shall behold & not Another tho consumed be my wrought Image.

The last four words, “be my wrought image”, didn’t fit into the final line and Blake had to squeeze them in, as if he hadn’t calculated how much space he would need to leave for this passage; and, the line dividing the words “Myself” and “mine” supports this further. It is almost as if Blake was changing his mind about the plate up until the final moments.

The decorations complement the images.  A snake in the margin, for example, echoes the presence of Satan in the design and there are trees and branches, sheep and dogs, and books and scrolls in both the images and their borders.

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Last updated: 14 March 2013

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