Introduction: ‘Conversing with the Animal forms of Wisdom’

  • Helen P. Bruder
  • Tristanne Connolly
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


This chapter first sketches the growing attention paid to beasts in Blake criticism, then meditates on the multiple meanings of ‘beastly’ which encapsulate both the link, and the othering, between humans and animals. Displacing human centrality is a potentially apocalyptic upheaval, as Blake shows by giving animals a dominant presence in his own scenes of apocalypse. Readings of Blake’s oeuvre illustrate his remarkable attention to animal voices and subjectivities. Animals have eternal identities, and are examples to humans in the virtue, or the imperative, of expressing divinely endowed desires. The chapter explores what it means when, at the end of Jerusalem, non-human beings ‘humanize’, suggesting humans need humanization, too, and can in fact approach such redemption by learning from and recognising kinship with animals.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen P. Bruder
    • 1
  • Tristanne Connolly
    • 2
  1. 1.AmateurOxfordUK
  2. 2.St Jerome’s UniversityWaterlooCanada

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