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Blake, Postmodernity and Postmodernism

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Abstract

The question of Blake and postmodernism may usefully be considered as part of the broader question of Romanticism and postmodernism, which is beginning to become a subject of intellectual debate. A traditional model of the relationship between past and present might be used to support the claim that just as modernism was indebted to Romanticism, so postmodernism is indebted to such features as Romantic irony, the cult of the rootlessly self-fashioning hero and possibly a certain valuing of the incomplete and fragmentary. There are also some more particular questions: the continuing fascination of the Gothic and the theory of Lyotard that both modernism and postmodernism are inheritors of the concept of the sublime (specifically the Kantian sublime), an idea with strong romantic connections.1 All of these possibilities are addressed in my edited volume, Romanticism and Postmodernism (1997), which includes essays touching on Wordsworth, Coleridge and Gothic fiction. It also includes a theoretical essay by Paul Hamilton which traces the ancestry of postmodernist ‘indeterminacy’ back to the concept of the sublime: associating the poetics of the sublime with the fashion for pantheism, Hamilton notes that ‘the monism resulting from pantheism, in which, since you cannot find God “outside” you must find him everywhere, has all sorts of other implications. Fundamentally, it makes all critique immanent. It leads to the equality of particulars’.2

Keywords

Literary History Chaos Theory Romantic Period Grand Narrative Marxist Criticism 
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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Notes

  1. 1.
    Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Paul Hamilton, ‘From Sublimity to Indeterminacy: New World Order or Aftermath of Romantic Ideology’, in Romanticism to Postmodernism, ed. Edward Larrissy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 13–28 (p. 27).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    William H. Galperin, The Return of the Visible in British Romanticism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), 244–70, especially 244–56.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Nicholas M. Williams, Ideology and Utopia in the Poetry of William Blake (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 209–19.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Leslie A. Marchand, ed., Byron’s Letters and Journals, 12 vols (London: Murray, 1973–82), III, 220.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    Ira Livingston, Arrow of Chaos: Romanticism and Postmodernity. Theory Out of Bounds Series, vol. 9 (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 14.Google Scholar
  7. 14.
    Hazard Adams, ‘Blake and the Postmodern’, in Essays for S. Foster Damon, ed. Alvin H. Rosenfeld (Providence: Brown University Press, 1969), 3–17 (p. 7).Google Scholar
  8. 16.
    Northrop Frye, The Stubborn Structure: Essays on Criticism and Society (London: Methuen, 1970).Google Scholar
  9. 17.
    See Maurice Merleau-Ponty, ‘On the Phenomenology of Language’ and ‘From Mauss to Claude Lévi-Strauss’, Signs, trans. Richard C. McCleary (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1964), 84–97, 114–25.Google Scholar
  10. 19.
    Annette S. Levitt, ‘“The Mental Traveller”, in The Horse’s Mouth: New Light on the Old Cycle’, in William Blake and the Moderns, Robert J. Bertholf and Annette S. Levitt, eds (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1982), 186–211 (p. 187).Google Scholar
  11. 20.
    Joyce Cary, The Horse’s Mouth, 2nd edn (London: Michael Joseph, 1951; 1st edn 1944), 52.Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    Peter J. Conradi, Iris Murdoch: A Life (London: Harper-Collins, 2001), 295: on Murdoch’s friendship with Cary, and on their circle.Google Scholar
  13. 23.
    Peter J. Conradi, The Saint and the Artist: A Study of the Fiction of Iris Murdoch, 2nd edn with new foreword by John Bayley (London: Harper Collins, 2001), 372.Google Scholar
  14. 25.
    Robert Duncan, Derivations: Selected Poems 1950–1956 (London: Fulcrum Press, 1968), 9.Google Scholar
  15. 26.
    Robert Duncan, Roots and Branches (London: Jonathan Cape, 1970), 51.Google Scholar
  16. 28.
    Barry Miles, Ginsberg: A Biography (London: Virgin, 2000), 208.Google Scholar
  17. 29.
    Paul Portugés, The Visionary Poetics of Allen Ginsberg (Santa Barbara: Ross-Erikson, 1978), 23.Google Scholar
  18. 30.
    Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1956), 29.Google Scholar
  19. 33.
    David Trotter, The Making of the Reader: Language and Subjectivity in Modern American, English and Irish Poetry (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1984), 200–01.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 35.
    Shirley Dent and Jason Whittaker, Radical Blake: Influence and Afterlife from 1827 (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 36.
    Nicholas M. Williams, ‘Eating Blake, or An Essay on Taste: The Case of Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon’, Cultural Critique, 42 (1999), 143–70 (p. 155).Google Scholar
  22. 42.
    Iain Sinclair, Suicide Bridge: A Book of the Dead Hamlets: May 1974 to April 1975 (London: Albion Village Press, 1975), 8–9.Google Scholar
  23. 44.
    For thoughts on ‘deconstructive materialism’ see Marjorie Levinson, Wordsworth’s Great Period Poems: Four Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 10.Google Scholar
  24. 45.
    Edward Larrissy, William Blake (Oxford: Blackwell, 1985), 42–55.Google Scholar
  25. 48.
    Graham Pechey, ‘1789 and After: Mutations of “Romantic” Discourse’, in 1789: Reading Writing Revolution, Francis Barker et al., eds (Colchester: University of Essex, 1982), 52–66.Google Scholar
  26. 55.
    Stephen Leo Carr, ‘Illuminated Printing: Toward a Logic of Difference’, in Unnam’d Forms: Blake and Textuality, Nelson Hilton and Thomas A. Vogler, eds (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), 177–96.Google Scholar
  27. 57.
    Robert Viscomi, Blake and the Idea of the Book (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 163–76.Google Scholar
  28. 60.
    Edward Larrissy, ‘Spectral Imposition and Visionary Imposition: Printing and Repetition in Blake’, in Blake in the Nineties, Steve Clark and David Worrall, eds (Basingstoke: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s Press, 1999), 75.Google Scholar

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© Edward Larrissy 2006

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