16. September 2013 · Comments Off on BBC Dramatisation of Marriage of Heaven and Hell added to our Voice Project · Categories: Society News

We are delighted to announce a new addition to our Voice Project – a dramatisation of the Marriage of Heaven and Hell by Claire Peyton Jones with an introduction by Marilyn Butler which accompanied the original broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

The Blake Society is grateful to the dramatiser for making this available.

Both are available to download from our website as MP3 files and enjoyed on our YouTube channel together with Blake’s illustrations

As always, we ask that those who have performed Blake’s work to share with us a little of the experience. Below are the thoughts of the dramatiser Claire Peyton Jones.

“The Marriage of Heaven and Hell lent itself perfectly to dramatization – I largely dramatized it as I heard it in my head; I could hear Blake’s voice narrate, and the voices he used to drop in the proverbs and fancies – so all I had to do was appropriate these voices, and get a good audio balance between them. I also tried to gently tease out themes by giving them to a particular ‘devil’ so that threads of thought were easier to follow. Piers Plowright, the producer, first commissioned some jazz to accompany the whole piece, and after finishing the production, decided it fought Blake rather than added to it, so we completely remixed it with less temporal sound-effects which, while less unusual, we felt honoured Blake more. He needs no supplement. While Blake is curiously modern, thus his wide and persistent appeal, he doesn’t lend himself well to being viewed though a distinctly temporal window which was the effect of the jazz.

Dr Marilyn Butler offers an illuminating introduction that puts ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’ in the context of its time.

Looking at Blake from the perspective of our times – just as jazz was an inappropriate way to elucidate Blake, the philosopher and theologian Francis Schaeffer suggests how difficult this is. Shaeffer describes a paradigm shift of thinking that occurred in the early part of the twentieth century (that had its origins as far back as the late Middle Ages) from which a modern secular sensibility emerged. We lost the supernatural to the natural — and we became wholly incapable of understanding the world view of faith that preceded it unless we were people of faith ourselves. I suggest that reading Blake from the outside looking in has the same warping effect as the jazz.

Blake reviled the rule-bound, tamed and neatly digestible Christ presented by the church of his day, as annihilating the passionate grace-filled and energetic God I suspect he knew as Jesus Christ. I believe it was this Jesus that Blake wanted to give back to the world – and does so to my mind in a beautifully upside down way in this piece.”


More recordings and information about the voice project are available here. To add your own voice, please contact voice[at]blakesociety[dot]org

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