Recently we discovered that Paul Miner, an independent Blake scholar whose work is well known to many of the readers of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly, passed away earlier this year. Morton Paley noticed that items from Paul’s collection were being offered by a bookseller online, describing him as “late,” and some phone calls confirmed the sad news.
Paul’s association with Blake spanned the life of the journal, from a note in the very first issue of June 1967—”Paul Miner is doing some work on Blake’s star-moon symbolism and will appreciate comments and suggestions regarding this subject”—to an article on Queen Charlotte, Marie Antoinette, and George III in spring 2015. He published in the Bulletin of the New York Public Library (sometimes working closely with David V. Erdman, editor of the Bulletin at the time), Criticism, Notes and Queries, and Studies in Romanticism, among others. In over fifty studies he covered everything from biographical details (he unearthed information about several of Blake’s landlords) to the polyp as a symbol in Blake to the identity of figures in sketches. He was particularly attuned to allusions in Blake, both graphic and textual. In a review in 1973, he wrote:
If I may be indulged with such a vulgarity, I’m a source-man…. I grant that, ultimately, a poem must become what it is, an organism independent of the poet. But to ignore the integuments of connective tissue is false physiology …. To isolate a poem from its intellectual archipelago prevents us from appreciating its “geography.”
In 2012 we published a poem of Paul’s that coincidentally was the bookend for our last issue printed by a commercial printer.
Some articles by Paul:
“‘Bad’ Queens, ‘Good’ Queens, and George III (as His Satanic Majesty).” Blake 48.4 (spring 2015): 27 pars.
“Blake: Milton inside Milton.” Studies in Romanticism 51.2 (summer 2012): 233-76.
“The Polyp as a Symbol in the Poetry of William Blake.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 2 (1960): 198-205.
“A Possible Sketch of Blake’s Napoleon.” Blake 43.2 (fall 2009): 76-77.
“William Blake’s ‘Divine Analogy.'” Criticism 3.1 (1961): 46-61.
“William Blake’s London Residences.” Bulletin of the New York Public Library 62.11 (Nov. 1958): 535-50.