Global Blake
Serbo-Croatian Blake
Tanja Bakić discusses her work on the transmission of Blake in Serbo-Croatian speaking regions and the continuing reception of his illustrations to The Grave.

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).