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William Blake and the Impossible History of the 1790s$
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Saree Makdisi

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780226502595

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226502618.001.0001

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Fierce Rushing: William Blake and the Cultural Politics of Liberty in the 1790s

Fierce Rushing: William Blake and the Cultural Politics of Liberty in the 1790s

Chapter:
(p.16) Chapter Two Fierce Rushing: William Blake and the Cultural Politics of Liberty in the 1790s
Source:
William Blake and the Impossible History of the 1790s
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226502618.003.0002

This chapter examines the relevance of the works of William Blake to the cultural politics of liberty in England during the 1790s. It analyzes several passages in his America: A Prophecy and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and suggests that Blake was able to develop a very powerful critique of the epistemological and conceptual basis of the dominant radical agenda in his illuminated books. This chapter also argues that Blake's interest in antinomian tradition provided him with a set of concepts with which to contest the cultural and political primacy of the individual and to produce a conception of freedom that went far beyond the narrow scope of liberty sanctioned by the hegemonic radical position.

Keywords:   William Blake, cultural politics, liberty, England, America: A Prophecy, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, illuminated books, antinomian tradition, freedom

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