Blake List — Volume 1997 : Issue 6

Today's Topics:
	 Re: Blake as Romantic
	 RE: Austen a Romantic?!?!
	 Re: Responsible reading (Re: Blake as a romantic)
	 20/20 Blake (was Re: Blake siting)
	 Re: Responsible reading (Re: Blake as a romantic)
	 RE: Austen a Romantic?!?!
	 Re: Ololon
	 Re: Responsible reading (Re: Blake as a romantic)
	 Re[2]: Ololon
	 quoted lines
	 more excerpts--(Re: Responsible reading (Re: Blake as a romantic))
	 Guillory & response  abilit


Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 08:22:18 -0600
From: (J. Michael)
Subject: Re: Blake as Romantic
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

>I have always been led to seen Austen in a Romantic context, a prefiguration
>(though less prone to the macabre) of the Emily Bronte.  I don't buy it!
>Steve Mandziuk>

I don't either!  I cannot imagine Austen "prefiguring" Bronte in any way.
Either of the Brontes, for that matter.

Jennifer Michael


Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 09:16:55 -0600 (CST)
Subject: RE: Austen a Romantic?!?!
Message-Id: <>
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7BIT

As it happens I think Austen has a lot to do with the Romantics.  Indeed, the
paper I used for my on-campus interview for my job (which I got) was on
the unspeakable in Shelley's *The Cenci* and Austen's *Pride and Prejudice*.
Of course, part of my point was that such a joining is generally considered

Paul Yoder


Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 16:46:37 -0500 (EST)
From: Scott A Leonard 
To: Nelson Hilton 
Subject: Re: Responsible reading (Re: Blake as a romantic)
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

It's always dangerous to jump on an excerpt from a book--especially
an introductory passage such as the one that Nelson Hilton has presented
from Guillory's book.  Nevertheless, if I correctly understand G. to be
saying that the canon is a bankrupt category because no such entity 
exists in college curricula, I must strenuously disagree.

As it happens my dissertation surveyed the archival holdings of Princeton,
Harvard, Yale, U Michigan, Ohio State U, U Berkeley, & Stanford--esp.
the catalogue listings, test questions, and required book lists--preserved
by those institutions.  I can tell you without any reservation that the
required authors & texts organized to define a literary period has changed
very little since the 1890s in all of the above.  True, we now have
courses that employ Marxist thought to "resist constructions of class" in
the novels of, say, Austen, Dickens, & Eliot; but the salient finding of
my research is that the authors lists & specific titles are much the same
whatever critical approach happens to be invoked (in vogue).

To me, the relative stability of books and authors chosen to represent
literary periods--and the comparatively wide circulation of the
anthologies and "must read" book lists from the latter decade of the 19th
century until today--IS the strongest possible evidence that the canon 
refers to something very real.  I would say that the reason that calling
the canon into question has done nothing of significance to change
our sense of canonical/noncanonical authors has more to do with the
deeply conservative logic that guides institutional practice.
Institutions don't change readily and never in surprising ways.

My study specifically focussed on the curricular history of Victorian
Studies--I'd have to get into my file cabinets full of photocopied course
catalogs to verify that my observations hold for the "romantic"
period--but my more casual examination of the required reading and
prerequisited textbooks seemed to confirm that the content of our
literary specialty was formed early and has persisted relatively unchanged
for more than a century.  Think of the generations that learned that 
have learned that the big five poets define the romantics, that read
Childe Harold, Keats "Odes," Shelley's "Adonais," Wordsworth's 
"Prelude," etc.  If that doesn't create a culturally shared consciousness
of what properly belongs to the period--and what "of importance" should be
read of that period--what else possibly could?  Challenges to this
entrenched (and therefore canonical) perception have been comparatively
ineffective in circles beyond the professoriate because they do not offer
a substantially different or better organizational scheme for G.'s
"category known as literature." 

Sorry for the long post.

Scott A. Leonard,
Youngstown State U


Date: Wed, 22 Jan 97 17:21:10 -0800
From: Seth T. Ross 
Subject: 20/20 Blake (was Re: Blake siting)
Message-Id: <>
Content-Type: text/plain

A number of posters have remarked on the George Coates performance piece,  
20/20 Blake. Catherine & I had the honor of experiencing a preview last  
summer, before the company departed for performances in Brazil. I was  
delighted to be immersed in both Blake's work and in Coates' marvelous  
stagecraft. It's truly a sensory delight to project into Blake's artwork, to  
watch Blake's characters literally come alive, speaking, moving in three  
dimensions, to feel the thump of what Blake may have heard in his own mind,  
ecstatic music ranging from gravely grunge rock depths to angelic chamber  
singer heights.

Since I bring to the work my own prejudice as a Blakean and technologist, I  
can't help but muse that if Blake were alive now, he too might be mixing and  
morphing new artistic forms with the old, creating new expanses and chambers  
for his intellect and spirit to fill. Coates & crew have created their own  
system, a reality engine driven half by raw human genius and half by elaborate  
arrays of hardware and software. The result is a unique immersive artistic  
experience that bridges the contraries of image & lyric, flat & 3D, present &  
past, real & virtual, high art & low art.

I highly recommend a visit to the group's web site at
Here you'll find information about upcoming shows and several show  
"previews." While the previews have merit on their own, they represent but the  
palest shadow of the show's full sensory impact. You must come to San  
Francisco to fully experience this Blakean celebration.

   A\  Seth Ross \ Publisher \ Albion Cybercasting
  A A\  "The network is the network" \ San Francisco
 A   A\   Visit us on the WWW at


Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 15:30:39 -0800
From: (susan p. reilly)
Subject: Re: Responsible reading (Re: Blake as a romantic)
Message-Id: <>

Dear Scott,

How interesting! And how nice to hear from someone who has actually 
researched this area!  Based on your research, how do you envision the 
current  shift towards a more-inclusive Romantic canon as holding up 
over the next, say, 100 years?  Do you think that as more writers are 
added to anthologies and to course offerings there will be a further 
fracturing of the periods (late and early Romanticism, for example) to 
accomodate [the study of] these texts, or do you see this trend as 

Susan Reilly


Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 16:08:32 -0800
From: David Rollison 
Subject: RE: Austen a Romantic?!?!
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

>As it happens I think Austen has a lot to do with the Romantics.  Indeed, the
>paper I used for my on-campus interview for my job (which I got) was on
>the unspeakable in Shelley's *The Cenci* and Austen's *Pride and Prejudice*.
>Of course, part of my point was that such a joining is generally considered
>Paul Yoder

If you'll read in Michael Cooke's "Acts of Inclusion." you'll see how he
fits Austen (Mansfield Park) with the Romantics.


Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 08:17:03 -0600 (CST)
From: Andrew Elfenbein 
Subject: Ololon
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

Second time: Where in _Milton_ is Ololon explicitly identified by 
character or narrator as Milton's Emanation?  

Andrew Elfenbein


Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 08:51:46 -0800 (PST)
From: Ralph Dumain 
Message-Id: <>

Given the current discussion of the problems of Romanticism,
perhaps someone could tell me if I would be interested in the
following book:

Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, c1987.  211 p.

I found it in a used bookstore for $12.50, but I was hesitant and
short of cash.  Damned if I can remember what it was about, but I
think Wordsworth figured prominently in the book, and there was
something philosophical about it.  Any recommendations?


Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 11:27:51 -0600
From: (J. Michael)
Subject: Re: Ololon
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

>Second time: Where in _Milton_ is Ololon explicitly identified by
>character or narrator as Milton's Emanation?

It's never explicit, and as Damon and Bloom both point out, Ololon is
initially unaware that she is his emanation.  But on plate 41 [48]  (E
143), as the virginal or specifically "feminine" aspect of Ololon is
dividing from her, she seems to recognize her connection to Milton
(suggesting that sexuality is what has obscured that union):

Is this our Feminine Portion the Six-fold Miltonic Female
Terribly the Portion trembles before thee O awful Man
Altho' our Human Power can sustain the severe contentions
Of Friendship, our Sexual cannot:  but flies into the Ulro.
Hence arose all our terrors in Eternity!  & now Remembrance
Returns upon us!  are we Contraries O Milton, Thou & I

Hope this helps,

Jennifer Michael


Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 12:53:14 -0500 (EST)
From: Scott A Leonard 
Subject: Re: Responsible reading (Re: Blake as a romantic)
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII


The way it has been for the last 100 years or so has been that additions
to anthologies have generally not consumed much in the way of classtime
(this surmise from surviving syllabi--particularly at Northwestern.  Did
I forget to mention N-W U last post?).  The reasons for this seem pretty
clear.  If one feels one must acquaint one's students with the "defining"
figures of a period in, say, 10 weeks, then adding women writers and
poets traditionally not considered "good," "defining," etc. literally
means asking oneself "which Shelley, Keats, or Wordsworth poems am
I cutting to make room for Baribauld?"  I'm not certain that we've
had quite enough time to tell whether or not this impulse to preserve
our own acquired sense of who MUST be read will be transformed or
changed significantly.  Indeed, I'm pretty pessimistic about a
substantially reimagined sense of canonical and subcanonical works.  

At YSU a few years before I was hired on, it was decided that we should
get away from what Gerry Graff called the coverage curriculum.  So we
entirely did away with our "survey" courses.  Actually, entirely isn't 
quite right because we now offer theme course the Medieval, Renaissance,
18th C., the Romantics, Victorians, and 20th C.  So, the coverage is
potentially there, but students are not required nor necessarily directed
to sequence these courses and the surveys that used books like Norton's
British Literature Vols. 1 & 2.  The results have displeased everyone 
here from the most moss-backed to the po-mo queer theorist: our students 
have almost no sense of history or development or the inter-generational
development of philosophy.  The "old-guard" says that this ignorance is
deplorable and those of us who imagine ourselves theory -literate find
that the category "other" is completely invisible to our students because
they don't have a very clear idea of what body of texts we are calling
into question, resisting, opposing, blah, blah, blah.

I noticed theory aware titles for courses appearing at places like
Northwestern U, Stanford, and Berkeley in the early '80s--and then
only once or twice a year, non-required "topics" courses.  I think
something very Catherine Gallaheresque was offered at Northwestern in the
early '90s concerning social value and George Eliot for example.  But the
course number was not listed among those that MUST be taken for a
BA in English--and even then a fairly canonical author was the focal point
of New Historical work.  I'd be curious to extend my study from its
terminus at 1991 and see if there really is a trend at the instutional
level of course titles and majors requirements to read a more diverse
population.  Is it true as the NY Times seems to aver that schools aren't
requiring Shakespeare in favor of opening up the "canon?"  But, I rather
expect that the trend to de-fund the humanities because (as the Board
of Regents puts it in OH) they don't contribute to the state's economy
will ultimately force the merging of some of our period courses for no
greater reason than it would be cost effective to hire a "long 18th
century" person than an 18th C. specialist and a Romnaticist.  The same
pressures will probably always blunt moves to make substantial changes in
the content or conceptualization of "literature" and its historical
presentation in English departments.

(I'm pessimistic; indeed, my dissertation advisor asked me to rewrite the
last chapter of my final hoop because it basically argued that the "theory
explosion" would have little effect on how we defined English through
course offerings, required reading lists, and anthologies.)

Scott A. Leonard
Youngstown State U


Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 13:40:05 -0500 (EST)
From: bouwer 
Subject: Ololon
Message-Id: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Andrew Elfenbein says:
     "Second time: Where in "Milton" is Ololon explicitly
      identified by character or narrator as Milton's
Nowhere, explicitly, as far as we can ascertain. One suspects
that this  "tradition" of unquestioningly calling Ololon  the
emanation of Milton  started at least as early as 1947 with
Northrop Frye in "Fearful Symmetry"  (or perhaps earlier by 
somebody else?)
    Crucial lines seem to be M42 K534:
"So saying, the Virgin divided Six-fold, & with a shriek
Dolorous that ran thro' all Creation,a Double Six-fold Wonder
AWAY FROM OLOLON SHE DIVIDED & and fled into the depths
of Milton's Shadow..."
    We would be interested to hear more of what you have to say 
about Ololon.

   Gloudina Bouwer


Date: Thu, 23 Jan 97 15:56 CST
Subject: Re[2]: Ololon
Message-Id: <>

     In addition to the passages that Jennifer and Glodina point out, 
     consider Milton's situation at the opening of the poem
     Say first! what mov'd Milton, who walkd about in Eternity
     One hundred years, pondring the intricate mazes of Providence Unhappy 
     tho in heav'n, he obey'd, he murmur'd not. he was silent Viewing his 
     Sixfold Emanation scatter'd thro' the deep
     In torment! To go into the deep her to redeem & himself perish? What 
     cause at length mov'd Milton to this unexampled deed [?]
     A Bards prophetic Song!
     (M 2:16-22)
     At the end of the Bard's song Milton realizes what he must do:
     Then Milton knew that the Three Heavens of Beulah were beheld By him 
     on earth in his bright pilgrimage of sixty years
     In those three females whom his Wives, & those three whom his 
     Had represented and containd, that they might be resum'd
     By giving up of Selfhood: & they distant view'ed his journey
     In their eternal spheres, now Human, tho' their Bodies remain clos'd 
     In the dark Ulro till the Judgment: also Milton knew: they and Himself 
     was Human, tho' now wandering thro Death's Vale
     In conflict with those Female forms, which in blood & jealousy 
     Surrounded him, dividing & uniting without end or number.
     (M 15[17]:51 through 17[19]:8)
     The proper name Ololon first appears a few plates later:
     There is in Eden a sweet River, of mild & liquid pearl,
     Named Ololon; on whose mild banks dwelt those who Milton drove Down 
     into Ulro: and they wept in long resounding song 
     For seven days of eternity . . .
     (M 21[23]:15-17)
     Note it's "who" not "whom" before "Milton drove" -- that is, from 
     another point of view it is Ololon who drove Milton down into Ulro.
     (Down in Ulro his wives and daughters are named "Rahab and Tirzah, & 
     Milcah & Malah & Noah & Hoglah" -- M 17:10)
     And they lamented that they had in wrath & fury & fire Driven Milton 
     into the Ulro; for now they knew too late
     That it was Milton the Awakener: they had not heard the Bard, Whose 
     song calld Milton to the attempt . . .
     (M 21 [23]: 31-34) 
     Los and the Divine Family then mourn over Ololon, and they "groan'd in 
     spirit / And were troubled!" (echoing Christ's lament over Lazarus) 
     because, in order to redeem his sixfold emanation, Milton has gone to 
     Eternal Death. Realization of Milton's self-sacrifice then inspires 
     Ololon to make her (or their, collectively) own sacrifice and go on 
     her/their own quest:
     And Ololon said, Let us descend also, and let us give Ourselves to 
     death in Ulro among the Transgressors. ...
     Or are these the pangs of repentance? let us enter into them . . . (M 
     21[23]: 45-6,50)
     The Divine Family, still echoing language used by Jesus, lets Ololon 
     know that as the millennium approaches ("Six Thousand Years are now / 
     Accomlish'd in this World of Sorrow?") she/they have a redemptive 
     mission but not one that will spare Milton from his ordeal:
     . . . Watch over this World, and with your brooding wings, Renew it to 
     Eternal Life: Lo! I am with you alway
     But you cannot renew Milton he goes to Eternal Death. (M 21[23]: 
     (Lo! I am with you alway is from the end of Matthew, the last words) 
     The Divine Family then takes the form of Jesus and Ololon becomes the 
     clouds in which he makes his end-of-time return to earth
     Ololon then (I realize I'm oversimplifying the time frame and 
     everything else about the narrative) descends in to Beulah, world of 
     emanations, as Milton had descended into Ulro (31 [34]: 8) and from 
     the perspective of the inhabitants of Beulah, this is the return of 
     Jesus, the Second Coming -- "they saw the Lord coming / In the Clouds 
     of Ololon with Power & Great Glory" -- the imagery is from Luke 21:27 
     (and perhaps other gospels), the passage that certain fundamentalist 
     sects cite as the prophecy of the "rapture" they expect. In his 
     commentary on his Last Judgment painting, Blake himself used yet 
     another second-coming "rapture" passage, describing both the living 
     and those who have died in the faith "meeting the lord in the air" 
     (I Thessalonians 4:17).,"If the Spectator could Enter into these 
     Images in his Imagination, approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of 
     his Contemplative Thought . . . then would he arise from his Grave, 
     then would he meet the Lord in the Air, & then he would be happy."
     Don't have time to finish, but this is long enough - both M and Ololon 
     take many forms throughout and perceive each other differently at 
     every step . Finally he, in his lowest fallen form, gives up his 
     selfhood or egoism and she, in her lowest fallen form, gives up her 
     virginity or sense of sexual purity -- and at the very end seem to 
     precipitate the final human harvest (depending upon what B and his 
     "Shadow" Catherine and others then in the world do). 
     Again, I know I oversimplify and I have an old-fashioned tendency to 
     see an underlying design in apparently disparate and chaotic 
     anti-narrative works by Blake.
     - Mary Lynn Johnson 


Date: Thu, 23 Jan 97 15:59 CST
Subject: quoted lines
Message-Id: <>

     When I received a copy of the message I sent about Ololon, I was 
     shocked to see that the lines of poetry had all run together, even 
     though I put hard returns after each. Sorry about that. -- mlj 


Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 17:39:28 -0500 (EST)
From: Nelson Hilton 
Subject: more excerpts--(Re: Responsible reading (Re: Blake as a romantic))
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

Raymond Williams writes (already twenty years back):

| Yet the crucial theoretical break is the recognition of `literature' as
| a specializing social and historical category.  It should be clear that 
| this does not diminish its importance.  Just because it is historical, a
| key concept of a major phase of a culture, it is decisive evidence of a
| particular form of the social development of language.  Within its
| terms, work of outstanding and permanent importance was done, in
| specific social and cultural relationships.  But what has been
| happening, in our own century, is a profound tranformation of these
| relationships, directly connected with changes in the basic means of
| production.  These changes are most evident in the new technologies of
| language, which have moved practice beyond the relatively uniform and
| specializing technology of print.  The principal changes are the
| electronic transmission and recording of speech and of writing for
| speech, and the chemical and electronic composition and transmission of
| images, in complex relations with speech and with writing for speech,
| and including images which can themselves be `written'.  None of these
| means cancels print, or even diminishes its specific importance, but
| they are not simple additions to it, or mere alternatives.  In their
| complex connections and interrelations they compose a new substantial
| practice in social language itself, over a range from public address and
| manifest representation to `inner speech' and verbal thought.  For they 
| are always more than new technologies, in the limited sense.  The are
| means of production, developed in direct if complex relations
| with profoundly changing and extending social and cultural
| relationships:  changes elsewhere recognizable as deep political and
| economic transformations.  It is in no way surprising that the
| specialized concept of `literature', developed in precise forms of
| correspondence with a particular social class, a particular organization
| of learning, and the appropriate particular technology of print, should
| now be so often invoked in retrospective, nostalgic, or reactionary
| moods, as a form of oppostion to what is correctly seen as a new phase
| of civilization.  Marxism and Literature, 53-54

Guillory's point (and he quotes Williams a number of times, including the
last few of the preceding sentences) is that indeed theory has "little
effect on how we define English" (as Scott Leonard has just posted) but
"everything to do with the status of literature in `a new phase of
civilization.'" 263   Much of the debating over "canon" is so
much fiddling while the institution (Literature Departments) becomes
increasingly marginalized:

| The professional-managerial class has made the correct assessment that,
| so far as its future profit is concerned, the reading of great works is
| not worth the investment of very much time or money.  The perceived
| devaluation of the humanities curriculum is in reality a decline in its
| market value.  If the liberal arts curriculum still survives as
| the preferred course of study in some elite institutions, this fact has
| everything to do with the class constituency of these institutions.
| 46

But Blake's multi-media production should have still more value for the
rousers up of literacy of the new age than for professors of literature of
the old.  

   Nelson Hilton -=- English -=- University of Georgia -=- Athens
        Was ist Los? "Net of Urizen" or "Jerusalem the Web"?


Date: 23 Jan 1997 17:08:06 -0800
From: "Tom Vogler" 
To: "Blake @ Albion" 
Subject: Guillory & response  abilit

I find it interesting but not surprising that in response to Nelson Hilton's

>The response ability of anyone tempted to profess on this topic would
>benefit from a consideration of John Guillory's remarkable book: _Cultural
>Capital:  The Problem of Literary Canon Formation_ (UChicago, 1993).  An
>excerpt from its Preface: [Quotation from Guillory]

we have what seems like an irresponsible Pavlovian response from Ralph Dumain.
Has he actually read the text (not just the excerpt)in question? Or is he

>Or perhaps Guillory does not mean the extensive definition of
>"literature", but the very category as a realm of human activity.

>Or perhaps what Guillory really is concerned about is the prestige
>value of "literature" as a realm of "art" separated from other
>human activities.  In which case he has some case, however
>trivial, but one that applies more to people like himself than it
>does to the general reader....

>It seems to me Raymond Williams already did the job of questioning
>"literature" as a specialized activity separate from life. 

To dismiss Guillory as a masturbatory postmodern charlatan on such a small
sampling, and then to invoke the very category under interrogation 

>In ordinary language there are people who read *literary* works for what they
>out of them (emphasis added).....

is to shift an interesting suggesting for productive thought and exchange to
the level of trivial polemic. Most readers I have encountered who want to "get
something out of" what they read tend with amazing frequency to get what they
want and what they expect. If not, they can dismiss it as something that does
not (in Dumain's terms) "respond to his/her needs." 

Tim Linnel suggests a "great irony" in his perception that Blake's problem was
first in not being accepted and now in *being* accepted (i.e. canonized). I
agree with what I think is his implicit pointQthat canonization of a work
comes with an agreement on how it is to be readQbut wonder if his alternative
emphasis on "the essential uniqueness of artistic self expression" is not an
example of precisely that "Romantic Ideology" (to borrow Jerome McGann's
sense) which he seems to be criticizing:

>Now, in attempting to fit Blake retrospectively into a classification (in
>this case as a member of the romantic movement), the artistic and literary
>establishment of our own times is working in precisely the same way as their
>earlier counterparts, but simply applying different rules of exclusion, and
>hence the irony.

It is the institutionalized faith in terms like these ("essence"  "uniqueness"
 art as "self-expression") that allows those contemporary writers (e.g.
Silliman, Bernstein, Howe, Antin, Hejinian, Harryman, Andrews, McCaffery,
Raworth, Retallack, et al. et al. et al.) who are challenging the necessity
and regulatory nature of these concepts to be dismissed for not writing
conventional verse. I suggest that it is worth thinking of Blake in a variety
of categories and contexts, including what he meant by the prophetic
tradition, before we identify him as a unique self-expressionist. 

Tom Dillingham makes some (to me anyway) interesting observations, to which I
can add anecdotally that when I took a year-long course in "Romanticism" at
Yale in the early 1960s Blake was not mentioned once. We had quite a bit of
Walter Scott instead, as I recall. The recent spate of revisionist anthologies
of the "Romantic Period" suggest to me that we are still (or only now?) trying
to find a more adequate historical and contextual understanding of the
*writing* (to avoid begging the question of "literature") produced in England
in the late 18C and early 19C. And along with that go cultural productions of
other kinds (visual art, music, popular entertainment, architecture and
landscape etc. etc.) that need to be considered as part of that context.

As a final note, I would heartily second Nelson Hilton's recommendation of
Guillory's book as a worthwhile read. Whether you agree with any or all of it,
there's a lot there to think about, perhaps even to discuss.

Tom Vogler

End of blake-d Digest V1997 Issue #6