1/18/2017 1 Comment
The paper is an investigation into the central techniques Blake employs in designing a world of redemptive promise. Its focus is on three world-making techniques he utilizes: metaphorical operation, apostrophic address and lyrical lamentation. Similar to the aim of Northrop Frye in Blake: A Collection of Critical Essays, a secondary goal of this paper is to directly “contend with resistance to the normality of Blake’s mind” (Frye 6). A focus on technicity assists in moving through his layered writings; for, one then is able to navigate each of Blake’s careful constructions as an example of a truth claim or deployment of literary device rather than getting entangled by hermeneutics. In doing so, my hope would be to join the cadre of scholars within literary criticism seeking to normalize Blake’s mind and poetry. Blake is a skilled practitioner of literary tradition whose technical ability in poésis served a higher purpose. Blake was able to bring “an almost superhuman energy and technical ingenuity to his desire to give concrete expression to his visions” (Blake, The Complete Illuminated Books 8). While admittedly, Blake’s writings are oblique even for scholars of his work, it cannot be overstated enough that Blake was writing during a time where radical sympathizers and critics of the British and French empire were examined as potential traitors or confined as lunatics. Blake—who condemned the materialism of the church and the economic oppression of children and slaves—felt very much in danger; and, thus, felt the need to code his texts.
Blake’s deployment of metaphor and myth was to construct a world of his imagination that would inspire readers to construct their own worlds. In that construction process the existence of a new order functions both as creating heaven on earth and a condemnation of the present condition.
 (Blake, The Complete Illuminated Books 9): Referencing the group of prophetic books by Blake such as The Book of Ahania (1795), The Book of Los (1795), and the Prophecies America and Europe, “The overwhelming note is of conflict, human despair and suffering, and the effects of malign power; the rhetoric is of disjunction – between text and design, between different authorial voices, and between matter and spirit. Some at least were clearly written and etched as news was breaking of the Terror and (almost as shocking to Blake) of Robespierre’s reinstatement of the cult of the ‘Supreme Being’ in France, and of the repression of radical sympathisers at home. There is no doubt that Blake felt in personal danger in this period; people who held similar views were examined as potential traitors, or were confined as lunatics like Richard Brothers.”
Shayna S. Israel
Blog Mission: In the spirit of becoming , to provide iterative thoughts toward a deepened understanding of and experience with the intersection of literary and visual arts.