Blake’s Enoch before the Book of Enoch

Francis Borchardt

(Publisert i Rediscovering Enoch? The Antediluvian Past from the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Centuries. Brill Academic Publishers 2023)

For much of William Blake’s life, the existence of the “Book of Enoch” was sustained, not by face-to-face encounter with the individual, nor by hands-on interaction with book media, but through the narratives perennially told about Enoch and about the writings with which he was associated. But, Blake’s life coincided with the era of “discovery” of 1 Enoch for the West. This period included Bruce’s expedition to Ethiopia, his conveyance of fourEnoch manuscripts to Europe, and their eventual translation into Latin, and then English. During Blake’s lifetime the book of Enoch transformed into an entity with which Blake could materially interact, touching its pages, reading its words, and drawing on its descriptions. But it never lost its status as an imaginative locus: the book of Enoch became a material reality that could be read, translated, and illustrated, but also remained an idea that could be reprised in numerous distinct ways. This article investigates three of Blake’s artistic depictions of Enoch to better understand who Enoch was for Blake before he could interact with the book of Enoch.