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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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(p.1) Chapter One Introduction
William Blake and the Impossible History of the 1790s
University of Chicago Press

This introductory chapter discusses the objective of this book which is to explore the relevance of William Blake's “illuminated books” in understanding the history of England during the 1790s. His illuminated books include Songs of Innocence and of Experience, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Visions of the Daughters of Albion, which undermine the conceptualizations of sovereignty and reification that were essential to the logic of consumer culture and the free market, as well as to the logic of the republican movement and liberal democracy. This volume argues that Blake's sympathy with what has become the familiar radical attack on hereditary aristocratic government did not prevent him from questioning the political and cultural assumptions of the best-known radicals.

Keywords:   William Blake, illuminated books, history of England, consumer culture, free market, republican movement, liberal democracy, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Visions of the Daughters of Albion

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