Dangerous Enthusiasm: William Blake and the Culture of Radicalism in the 1790s

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Dangerous Enthusiasm considers Blake's prophetic books written during the 1790s in the light of the French Revolution controversy raging at the time; his works are shown to be less the expressions of isolated genius than the products of a complex response to the cultural politics of his contemporaries. William Blake's work presents a stern challenge to historical criticism. Jon Mee's new study meets the challenge by investigating contexts outside the domains of standard literary histories. He traces the distinctive rhetoric of the illuminated books to the French Revolution controversy of the 1790s and Blake's fusion of the diverse currents of radicalism abroad in that decade. The study is supported by a wealth of original research which will be of interest to historians and literary critics alike. Blake emerges from these pages as a 'bricoleur' who fused the language of London's popular dissenting culture with the more sceptical radicalism of the Enlightenment. Dangerous Enthusiasm presents a more comprehensively politicized picture of Blake than any previous study.
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Editorial Reviews

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"Mee's study is impressive....Mee's accumulation of materials is compelling....The way Mee's study amasses disparate textual materials, opens up Blake's intellectual concerns to the world around him, and brings his poetic out of political and social isolation is brilliant."--Studies in Romanticism

"Mee's study is one of the most successful we have to date. He elegantly paces Blake's poetry and designs within late eighteenth-century radical culture, but eschews any attempt to fix Blake's art to precise historical moments."--Literature and History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198122265
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/28/1992
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 5.63 (w) x 8.81 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
A Note on Texts
Introduction: Blake the Bricoleur 1
1 'Every Honest Man is a Prophet': Popular Enthusiasm and Radical Millenarianism 20
2 'Northern Antiquities': Bards, Druids, and Ancient Liberties 75
3 'Forms of Dark Delusion': Mythography and Politics 121
4 Blake, the Bible, and its Critics in the 1790s 161
Conclusion: A Radical Without an Audience? 214
Bibliography 227
Index 247
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