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Beastly Blake pp 253-291 | Cite as

News from the Thames (Blake! There’s Something in the Water)

  • Bethan StevensEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)

Abstract

Investigating the Thames, this chapter explores late eighteenth-century newspaper articles that narrate stories of animals, such as: a gigantic eel trapped in a coffin, eroticised swan-men, and blindfolded tigers arriving on the docks after Tipu Sultan’s defeat in Mysore. These articles provoke new ways of reading motifs of sexuality, empire and hell in works by Blake, including The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Urizen, the Large and Small Books of Designs, and illustrations to John Gabriel Stedman, Dante and the Bible. The chapter draws on writing by Walter Benjamin and J. Hillis Miller, developing the idea of the literary caption as an alternative form of academic writing. By using sensationalist animal stories as captions for Blake, we can discover new magical and ethical aspects of his work, within a circulation of fantastical narratives around the Thames. Human–animal relationships become a model for understanding the relationship between texts and images—intimate and visionary, infecting each other without directly touching.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SussexBrightonUK

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