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The [First] Book of Urizen

The Problem of Authorial Selfhood
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Abstract

In The [First] Book of Urizen, William Blake develops some of the issues of communication raised in the Songs of Innocence and of Experience and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by describing the origin of what he would later call Selfhood, its proliferation of self-closed discourse, and the disruption of dialogue. Thus far, we have seen that in the Songs, Blake explores how individuals struggle to find a place dialogically within the already existing community of discourse, while social institutions impose their own voices on individuals. As individuals lose their identity to the social institution, they in turn become agents of the institution and aid in the inculcation of new individuals. Similarly, the Marriage presents a confrontation between the powerful voice of the established Angelic order and the rebellious voice of the Devil, which rejects the hegemonic hold the Angelic order has on human history and the discourse that describes it; yet when the excluded Devils themselves gain discursive power, they, too, exhibit the same monologic tendencies of their predecessors. In both the Songs and the Marriage, Blake explores the power of the monologic Selfhood that affirms its own view as the only “true” one and denies others the opportunity in the dialogic construction of truth. The discourse of Selfhood, then, is self-closed, since it ignores the viewpoints of others in all stages of composition, dissemination, and reception.

Keywords

Print Technology Exact Copy Book Production Discursive Power Authorial Position 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© John H. Jones 2010

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