› Current Issue

  › Volume 5, December 2004
Volume 32, 2019
Volume 31, 2018
Volume 30, 2018
Volume 25, 2015
Volume 24, 2015
Volume 23, 2014
 ›Volume 22, 2014
Volume 21, 2013
Volume 20, 2013
 ›Volume 19, 2012
 ›Volume 18, 2012
 ›Volume 17, 2011
 ›Volume 16, 2011
 ›Volume 15, 2010

 Volume 14, 2010
Volume 13, 2009
 ›Volume 12, 2009
 ›Volume 11, 2008
Volume 10, 2008
 ›Volume 9, 2007
 ›Volume 8, 2007

 Volume 7, 2006
 Volume 6, 2005
 Volume 5, 2004
 Volume 4, 2001
 Volume 3, 2000
 Volume 2, 1999
 Volume 1, 1999



Breaking the Contract between God
and the Visual-Literary Fusion: Illuminated Manuscripts, William Blake and the Graphic Novel



University of Bucharest, Romania


This essay follows three different stages of the fusion of images and words in the tradition of the book. More specifically, it tackles the transformation undergone by the initially religious combination of visual figures and scriptural texts, exemplified by medieval illuminated manuscripts into the spiritual, non-dogmatic, illuminated books printed and painted by poet-prophet William Blake in a manner that combines mysticism and literature. Eventually, the analysis reaches the secularized genre of the graphic novel that renounces the metaphysical element embedded in the intertwining of the two media. If ninth-century manuscripts such as the Book of Kells were employed solely for divinely inspired renditions of religious texts, William Blake’s late eighteenth-century illuminated books moved towards an individual, personal literature conveyed via unique pieces of art that asserted the importance of individuality in the process of creation. The modern rendition of the image-text illumination can be said to take the form of the graphic novel with writers such as Will Eisner and Alan Moore overtly expressing their indebtedness to the above-mentioned tradition by paying homage to William Blake in the pages of their graphic novels. However, the fully printed form of this twentieth-century literary genre, along with its separation from the intrinsic spirituality of the visual-literary fusion in order to meet the demands of a disenchanted era, necessarily re-conceptualize the notion of illumination.


image-text, illuminated manuscripts, illuminated printing, graphic novel, secularization, the Book of Kells, William Blake, Will Eisner, A Contract with God, Alan Moore.