“Four Zoas, p. 115–image is not the same as image we have for The Four Zoas. Where to find?” As one of the editorial assistants involved with processing images for the digitizing of Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly, I faced the occasional challenge of locating an image in the William Blake Archive with the limited information provided by sparse captions of older articles. But what if the image and the caption didn’t match up? I wrote the note above in my BIQ image processing notes, identifying a case where locating the intended image presented an additional challenge to the image hunt.
The image in question and corresponding caption, “Four Zoas, p. 115,” appear in the Fall 1978 issue of Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly, Volume 12, No. 2, in Andrew Lincoln’s article, “The Revision of the Seventh and Eighth Nights of The Four Zoas.”
The caption, if sparse, seemed clear enough at first–the image depicted was apparently from Blake’s Four Zoas, plate 115.
But upon locating the image in the archive, the image that actually corresponded to plate 115 of The Four Zoas was similar to, but not exactly, the image depicted above in the 1978 issue:
The major points of difference that I flagged, for purposes of finding the correct image, were the contrast of the figure’s head in profile vs. tilted slightly toward the viewer and the empty space remaining on the central panel vs. the extension of manuscript text continuing to the end of the panel and onto the bottom of the figure’s clothing.
I enlisted Joe Viscomi’s help in locating the image that appears in the issue, which was clearly not p. 115 of The Four Zoas. We consulted the large facsimile edition of William Blake’s Vala, or The Four Zoas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), and discovered the very image that was depicted in the issue. The image was definitively not plate 115, but rather plate 111:
In this case of The Four Zoas, an image hunt proves an integral part of the editorial process. The correct image that appears in the issue was found, but invites new questions about our editorial role. Do we remain true to what appears in the original issue? Do we make corrections, either replacing the image or the caption so that the two correspond? Or do we add a note to the original explaining the discrepancy? What begins as a search for a particular image thus results in larger decisions about what it means to digitize archival materials and make them available for public use today.