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Deposits’ and ‘Rehearsals’: Repetition and Redemption in The Anathémata of David Jones A Comparison and Contrast with Blake

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Abstract

Comparison is a dangerously seductive mode, and its seductions are perhaps most dangerous when they lead one to feel one is dealing with repetition. Yet, as with repetition, there has to be similitude as well as dissimilitude between the items compared for the word to mean anything in this fallen world. Blake has often, of course, been compared with Jones, who early became an admirer.1 And there are sufficient similarities, at least when they are regarded in the light of my topic of repetition and redemption, for me to point to a useful contrast at the same time — one that I hope will make Jones’s beliefs stand out more clearly. Most obviously, there is the topic of the fall and resurrection of Albion in Blake and the way in which ‘All things Begin & End in Albions Ancient Druid Rocky Shore.’ (E, 171) In other words, the large features of Blake’s use of myth, and in particular his use of the Matter of Britain, yield a direct comparison with Jones: Jones’s work privileges the Matter of Britain even more obviously, especially in its intersection with ‘Romanitas’. For while it was providential that the witness of Christ could be spread through the medium of the Roman Empire, the Grail Legend (derived from the myth of the Cauldron of Plenty) fostered on its Celtic fringe is the nearest pagan approximation to the meaning of the Mass. Britain is thus the truest place of ‘rehearsal’, and in this belief lies a degree of similarity with Blake’s myth of Albion.

Keywords

True Place Palaeolithic Craftsman Human Prehistory Jewish Mysticism Fall World 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    David Blamires, David Jones: Artist and Writer (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1971), 1, 4.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Robert Lowth, Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews (London: J. Johnson, 1787), translated from the Latin of 1759.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Compare Walter Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (London: Collins, 1973), 219–53.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Gershom G. Scholem, Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship (London: Faber, 1982).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gershom G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, rev. 2nd edn (New York: Schocken, 1946), 237–39, 260–68.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    For the influence of Kabbalah on Blake, see Morton D. Paley, Energy and the Imagination: A Study of the Development of Blake’s Thought (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), 14, 69, 94.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Soren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Dread, trans. Walter Lowie (Princeton, 1944), 16.Google Scholar
  8. Discussed by Lorraine Clark, Blake, Kierkegaard, and the Spectre of Dialectic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    David Jones, The Anathémata, 2nd edn (London: Faber, 1972; 1st edn 1952), 73–4.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    David Jones, The Dying Gaul (London: Faber, 1978), 216.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Henri d’ Arbois de Jubainville, The Irish Mythological Cycle and Celtic Mythology, trans. Richard Irvine Best (Dublin: O’Donoghue & Co., 1903), 190: Finn (Middle Irish ‘Find’) is reborn as Mongan.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    David Jones, Epoch and Artist (London: Faber, 1959), 168.Google Scholar

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© Edward Larrissy 2006

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