Terry Eagleton on William Blake: Sex, Art and Transformation

Whatever you think of Terry Eagleton, he always makes for a provocative read. His piece on Blake at the Guardian Unlimited provides fascinating perspective on one of history’s greatest poets: Terry Eagleton: The original political vision: sex, art and transformation. See sample quote below: Blake, however, was not enamoured of the third way. The New… Continue reading Terry Eagleton on William Blake: Sex, Art and Transformation

Was William Blake Mad?

GK Chesterton put it like this: And now, after a due pause, someone will ask and we must answer a popular question which, like many popular questions, is really a somewhat deep and subtle one. To put the matter quite simply, as the popular instinct would put it, ‘Was William Blake mad?’ Alexander Gilchrist, Blake’s… Continue reading Was William Blake Mad?

The Argument Between Law and Love – A Common Theme

When we picked the works for this month’s Culture Club, we chose them based on the concept of the supernatural, and the idea of ‘moving between different worlds’. But I’ve discovered another common theme among the major works we’re discussing (Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Powell & Pressburger’s… Continue reading The Argument Between Law and Love – A Common Theme

William Blake Invents Free Verse in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Alicia Oistriker, leading Blake authority and editor of the Penguin Complete Poems of William Blake, claims that The Argument (plate 2) of the Marriage of Heaven and Hell (see below) is the first example of free verse in English. THE ARGUMENT Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burden’d air; Hungry clouds swag on… Continue reading William Blake Invents Free Verse in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

William Blake and the Tradition of Antinomianism

E.P. Thompson’s excellent book on William Blake, Witness Against The Beast, provides a brilliant  analysis of the religious and political traditions which helped form Blake as an artist, and the source of ideas behind many of his poems and paintings. In it he outlines how Blake’s work can be seen as part of a strand… Continue reading William Blake and the Tradition of Antinomianism

William Blake, The Ghost of a Flea

I was fascinated (and entertained) by this discussion of a picture of William Blake’s in Chesterton’s short biography of Blake. It’s not only a highly entertaining read, and a valuable insight into the picture under discussion, but I think it reveals a lot about the artist William Blake, both as painter and poet. As it’s… Continue reading William Blake, The Ghost of a Flea

William Blake and the Romantic Conception of the Individual

In his book The Romantics, Neil King defines Blake as part of the Romantic movement in the following way: Blake was not interested in strict representational ‘correctness’ but was more concerned with bringing out imaginatively what an experience meant to him. In this Blake is characteristically Romantic, believing in the centrality of the imagination, and… Continue reading William Blake and the Romantic Conception of the Individual

William Wordsworth and William Blake – Nature and Anti Nature

Reading William Blake and William Wordsworth back-to-back brings to mind the similarities and differences between them. As they are contemporaries, and both are considered key figures in the Romantic movement in poetry, it’s natural to assume that they have much in common. But any close reading of the two reveals a different story. G.K. Chesterton… Continue reading William Wordsworth and William Blake – Nature and Anti Nature

G.K. Chesterton on William Blake and Mysticism

I’m reading G.K. Chesteron’s biography of William Blake, and it’s a real treat, full of Chesterton’s unique insights and witticisms. The following quote provides a fresh angle on three of the poets we’ve discussed so far in the Culture Club: Blake, Shakespeare and Yeats. Chesterton is commenting on the fact that William Blake’s father, James… Continue reading G.K. Chesterton on William Blake and Mysticism