It was in September 2022 that I passed my viva on Blake with flying colours at the University of
Montenegro. My thesis, which took four years to complete, is entitled The Reception of William
Blake in the Serbo-Croatian-Speaking Region from 1905 through 2018.
My initial hypothesis was that William Blake has not been received to the extent he
deserves in the Serbo-Croatian language region. His work entered the region, was translated,
analysed and read, but to a much lesser degree than was the case with the reception of other
English Romantic poets. And Blake’s work entered those lands relatively late in the fields of
both literature and visual art.
The main aim of my research was to examine the routes of transmission, transfers and the
reception of Blake’s art in the Serbo-Croatian language region, both in the field of literature and
in those artistic fields bordering on literature. Blake was a multimedia artist active in many visual
art fields, and his presence in this region convincingly pointed towards artistic overlapping. My
next aim was to reconsider how much and in which ways Blake was relevant to those who
received his work – cultural mediators, translators, editors, critics, readers and artists – and also
to those who received the works of other English poets, especially those of the Romantics. Blake
was sometimes touched upon alongside other figures such as Huxley, Yeats, Shelley,
Swedenborg, Milton, Shakespeare and Shaw, while it was only Robert Blair alongside whose
figure Blake’s presence was discussed and perceived more fully.
My final aim was to see how relevant and pertinent Blake’s work is in this surrounding
nowadays, particularly because of the peculiarity of Blake’s oeuvre, which is more quotable than
My conclusions aimed towards Blake’s recipients in the Serbo-Croatian language region
mainly considering him a poet difficult to understand. The main reasons can be found in the “age
of mercantilism” Blake lived in, which showed no appreciation of his Romantic creativity, then
in Blake’s mysticism, irrationality, self-taught nature, incredible inventiveness, the protestant
milieu he was raised in, and the contradictory qualities of his poetry and art.
Nevertheless, either through his proverbs or other quotations from his poetry or through
his cinematographic presence, Blake has succeeded in becoming a part of the consumer society
in Serbia and Croatia. That is the main reason of Blake’s current growing popularity in this
region. Also, he is known as the designer/ illustrator of Blair’s Grave, and the figure bringing
connections between English Graveyard Poetry and the Serbian Graveyard Poetry.
Tanja Bakić is PhD graduate from the University of Montenegro, funded by the Montenegrin
Ministry of Scholarship. Her research examines William Blake’s reception in the Serbo-Croatian
language. Her articles were produced in Literature Compass (2022), Blake/An Illustrated
Quarterly (2022) and in Bloomsbury’s The Reception of William Blake in Europe (2019).