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Young and ‘Weary Night’

  • Jeremy Tambling

Abstract

In the nineteenth century, it required a long essay from George Eliot to disavow Young’s impact on her realism, for Night Thoughts, the subject of this chapter, was immensely influential.5 Karl Philipp Moritz (1756–1793) in Anton Reiser (1785–1790) shows the Pietistic, melancholic, young autobiographical subject letting his physical pain ‘put his soul in a mood where Young’s Night Thoughts, which he happened to acquire at that time, was a most welcome book — he fancied that here he recognized all his previous ideas about the emptiness of life and the vanity of all earthly things’. He writes that ‘his complaints acquired more nobility than ever … [when] Shakespeare supplanted even Young’s Night Thoughts’. Shakespeare, of course, had influenced Young. Anton Reiser thinks of writing of ‘a confrontation between the worlding, whose hopes end with this life, and the Christian, who has a joyous prospect of the future beyond the grave’.6 The contrast recalls Young’s ninth night, which offers Christian consolation, though contradictorily expressed in the last line’s expectation: ‘MIDNIGHT, Universal Midnight! reigns’ (9.2434).

Keywords

Male Friendship False Consciousness Paradise Lost Demonic Possession Trumpet Call 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Poems (1870), from Comte de Lautréamont, Maldoror and Poems trans. Paul Knight (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1978), p. 255.Google Scholar
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  40. 26.
    His limitation is keeping himself within the influence of Milton, and Pope. (Blake’s no. 35 appears in The Four Zoas, p. 123). See Daniel W. Odell, ‘Young’s Night Thoughts as an Answer to Pope’s Essay on Man’, Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, 12 (1972), 481–501, which brings out Young’s confidence;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Freud, ‘Civilization and its Discontents’, The Penguin Freud 12 (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1985), p. 313 (see pp. 256–60 for the ‘oceanic feeling’ of ‘oneness with the universe’).Google Scholar
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    Nelson Hilton, Literal Imagination: Blake’s Vision of Words (Berkeley: University of California Press 1983), p. 265.Google Scholar
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  52. 37.
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Copyright information

© Jeremy Tambling 2005

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  • Jeremy Tambling

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