Blake List — Volume 1998 : Issue 43

Today's Topics:
         Re: Blake Bibliography
         Re: sonnets
         Re: sonnets
         [Fwd: No nun...]
         Re: The Demiurge-Christian Atheism/Blake
         Re: BLAKE & BENJAMIN?
         Plato's Demiurge
         Re: [Fwd: No nun...]
         Re: [Fwd: No nun...]
         Re: sonnets
         My Beautiful Sonette
         [Fwd: Re: sonnets]
         Re: My Beautiful Sonette
         Blake and Adorno
         Re: Blake and Adorno
         Re: The Demiurge-Christian Atheism/Blake
         Bibliographic thanks


Subject: Re: Blake Bibliography
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 17:54:44 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ralph Dumain 
To: Henriette Stavis 

Glad you found the material useful.

At 05:51 PM 7/29/98 +0200, Henriette Stavis wrote:
>Hope your house guest is still speaking to you.

Are you kidding?  When I read my last post aloud to him,
he laughed almost as hard as I did.  I just about busted
a gut myself: one has a very different perspective on things at
four o'clock in the morning.  I had found much in the day
depressing, watching everybody's lives swirl around in the toilet,
but sleep deprivation gives me a whole new outlook on life's

So, after returning home early this eve nearly comatose with fatigue,
I decided to attack the file cabinet.  Boy, was I amazed to reacquaint
myself with endless reams of esoteric Blakeiana: Blake and his audience,
slavery, Richard Wright, Caribbean literature, Hegel, Nietzsche, etc.  Not
only did I find articles, but some more bibliographic printouts.  Found tons
more references on Blake and Coleridge.  But I digress yet again.

You will find Trawick's article on Blake's "German Connection" quite
interesting.  There are no new references in it outside of the Wellek ones I
gave you.

I have another article:

Carlson, Julie.  "Unsettled Territory: The Drama of English and German
Romanticisms", MODERN PHILOLOGY, vol. 88, no. 1, Aug. 1990, pp. 43-56.

This article is about Romantic drama,. but mainly about Holderlin.  A couple
of other interesting references can be found in it:


Ewen, Frederic.  THE PRESTIGE OF SCHILLER IN ENGLAND, 1788-1859 (1932).

I also found a critical review of:

ARGUMENTS.  Frankfurt am Main, Las Vegas: Peter Lang, 1978.  ("European
University Papers", Series XVIII: Comparative Literature, vol. 19)

The review is by Detlef W. Dorrbecker and appears in BLAKE: AN ILLUSTRATED
QUARTERLY, Winter 1983-84, pp. 111-114.

Also, a review of:

Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1988.

This is reviewed by Stuart Atkins in BLAKE: AN ILLUSTRATED QUARTERLY, Winter
1990-91, pp. 99-101.

OK, I think that about does it.  I look forward to reading your dissertation.


Subject: Re: sonnets
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 00:44:15 -0400
From: Norman Carlson 

How can one NOT believe in the unrhymed sonnet???

There's one by John Updike on page 66 of the July 20, 1998 issue

Norman Carlson


Subject: Re: sonnets
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 21:45:18 -0800
From: ndeeter 

J. Michael wrote:
> I can't tell whether it was Nathan or Ralph who asked,
> >By the bye, lately I have taken an interest in the sonnet and, although
> >I do not remember reading any in Erdman, I was wondering if anyone knew
> >whether Blake had ever written/published any sonnets. Or perhaps a short
> >or long obscure critical work where he writes about Shakespeare's
> >sonnets?
> There is an unrhymed sonnet (if you believe in that category) in _Poetical
> Sketches_ entitled "To the Evening Star."
> Jennifer Michael

Thank you Jennifer, I'll check it out..



Subject: [Fwd: No nun...]
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 22:36:56 -0800
From: ndeeter 

Subject: No nun...
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 22:29:20 -0800
From: ndeeter 

> Nathan prompts an interesting inquiry--Blake and sonnets?  In fact,
> Blake is not known ever to have written a sonnet (though there is one
> unrhymed 14 line poem, To the Evening Star).

I'm not sure if Blake's fourteen lines are iambic pentameter, though
they may be "close in spirit and diction" as Mr. Bigley writes, to the
traditional sonnet. Can it be called a sonnet without a rhyme scheme,
without a fixed meter? Paul Fussell in "Poetic Meter & Poetic Form"
writes that "the sonnet is a fourteen-line poem in iambic pentameter:
the rhyme scheme and the mode of logical organization implied by it
determine the type." Does the organization of "To the Evening Star"

> What is more interesting
> is that the word "sonnet" appears only three times in his known
> writings, and two of those times refer specifically to Wordsworth's
> translations of Michelangelo's sonnets; the third is in a letter
> to Hayley and refers to a sonnet by William Cowper.  In addition,
> Blake marked in his edition of Wordsworth in the table of contents
> the poems he had read, including some of WW's Sonnets to Liberty
> and Miscellaneous Sonnets.  (I am sure Blake would have hated some
> of WW's later sonnet collections, especially "Ecclesiastical Sonnets"
> and the sonnets in support of capital punishment.)

Wordsworth's later writings were of a man who had been accepted into the
academy as an important poet and Blake, well for the most part, hadn't
succeeded as a poet because he refused to become intellectually
assimilated. I should hope he would have despised the thriving Romantics

> So we are looking--almost--at a case of the dog that didn't bark.
> Why, in a period when there was a strong revival of interest in
> the sonnet--*many* being written by such as William Lisle Bowles,
> Charlotte Smith, Wordsworth, Keats, and others--was Blake entirely
> uninterested even in tossing off a few practice sonnets?


> Indeed, little has been said about this.  A casual and incomplete
> survey of indexes of Blake criticism indicates that the word does
> "sonnet" does not appear -- not even in a work like Alicia
> Ostriker's _Vision and Verse in William Blake_ which focuses on
> poetic technique; not in Josephine Miles's chapter, "The
> Sublimity of William Blake," nor in John Hollander's "Blake
> and the Metrical Contract."  (That essay is weirdly mis-titled,
> since the discussion of Blake occupies only the last four pages
> of nearly 20, but it is interesting.) Nor in Saintsbury.
> Well, someone will say, what's the surprise?  Blake never wrote any
> sonnets, so why comment on it?  Wordsworth may have believed that
> "Nuns fret not at their narrow room," but Blake set out to make his
> own system (including his own metrical system) so as not to be
> imprisoned by another man's.  That may seem answer enough--Blake's
> refusal of (or his reconfiguration of) traditional forms may be
> reason enough, except that he did use ballad and hymn forms,

Which were also experiencing a revival--Thomas Percy's "Reliques of
Ancient English Poetry" and Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott (and a
handful of others) ran around the Scottish countryside collecting
Scottish Ballads, even Wordsworth and Coleridge's book was called
"Lyrical Ballads..."

> sometimes
> in a way consistent with the norm and though his prophetic metrics are
> as antinomian as his religious views, they bear a recognizable
> relationship to English metrics.

How so? They are even more Alexandrine than Pope would deem appropriate.

> Blake did not hesitate to adapt
> visual motifs to his own uses, and he clearly was at least familiar
> with a good quantity of English poetry.  What is most mysterious
> is that his most revered ancestor, John Milton, wrote a number of
> sonnet masterpieces, and in doing so he stretched and adapted the
> form away from its Shakespearean/Sidneyan/Spenserian practices toward
> the kinds of prophetic and satirical oratory that would have appealed
> to Blake's purposes as well.  So even if Blake would have avoided
> emulating the other sonneteers, why did he not at least exploer the
> possibilities Milton had suggested?

That is also a good point. I've been looking at his chronology briefly.
He doesn't seem to have published any POETRY (or prophetic writings)
after the turn of the century, although he engraves and paints up until
his death.



Subject: Re: The Demiurge-Christian Atheism/Blake
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 00:34:11 -0700
From: Michael James Mahin 

wayne c wrote:
> Henriette and Michael,
> Pardon my intrusion into your conversation. You can find the Demiurge in
> Plato's Timaeus, passim,  and in Plato's Republic (Politeia), Book 10,
> especially starting at 596 b. I have never heard of Blakean "kenosis" but
> am very much interested in finding out more, especially if there is a
> connection with the Demiurge. The Greek word "kenosis" should mean
> something like "process or state of becoming empty or void," but does it
> mean this in Blake?
>  Sincerely,
>  Wayne Cruthirds
Whether "kenosis" means the same thing in Blake as it does in Altizer,
may be a mistaken quesiton, if I understand it correctly. Blake, never
uses the word. It is a term used by Thomas Altizer (a Christian
Theologian, purveyor of a movement called Christian Atheism). In
Christian Atheism, kenosis is the emptying of the "old heaven" (which
coincides with the term as ou have defined it). Christian Atheism seems
to incorporate the "death of God" into Christianity (the death of God
being the headpiece of most 20th Century philosphy), insisting that now
that heaven has been emptied of the transcendent, overbearing "Urizenic"
type God, we are prepared to feel and see the true message of
Christianity, that is, Jesus Christ's presence and essence as God/Human,
        The relationship to Blake is undeniable, it seems to me. This is the
relationship that Alitzer addresses in his book on Blake, _The New
Apocalypse_. In support of this relationship, and to give you a taste of
the books thesis, this seems an appropriate quote (from Altizer),

"Blake’s prophetic poetry both transcends and negates its roots in the
Christian tradition: it unveils a Jesus who is the totality of both God
and man, envisions a cosmic history reflecting a movement from Fall to
Apocalypse, and records an ecstatic immersion in the joy and the horror
of concrete experience. To enter the world of Blake’s vision is to be
initiated into a new and radical form of faith, a paradoxical but deeply
modern faith which is both sacred and profane, both mystical and
contemporary at once. For Blake was the first Christian Atheist, the
first visionary who chose the kenotic or self-emptying path of immersing
himself in the profane reality of experience as the way to the God who
is all and all Jesus (Altizer, xi)."
        I have not explored the Demiurge in Blake at all, but would be very
interested in anything you or anyone might have to say or begin
exploration of.
        In general, if anyone knows of critics who have refuted or criticized
Altizer's book, I would be interested in getting their bibliographies,


Subject: Re: BLAKE & BENJAMIN?
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 09:36:29 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ralph Dumain 

We discussed this subject last May, but for the sake of thoroughness ......
While digging through my Blakeiana I discovered a review, recommended to me
in a different context, in which Blake is compared to Walter Benjamin.

Cloudsley, Tim.  Review of: _The Counter-Arts Conspiracy: Art and Industry
in the Age of Blake_ by Morris Eaves, HISTORY OF EUROPEAN IDEAS, vol.. 18,
no. 6, Nov. 1994, pp. 1042-1044.

Blake's opposition to the culture industry of his time is mentioned in
conjunction with Adorno and Marcuse.  More to the point, "Blake's radical
visionary eschatology resembles the twentieth-century Jewish neo-Marxist
Walter Benjamin's revolutionary aesthetic of redemption, with its leaps into
the past, facing Paradise; its 'now-times' that are 'shot through with chips
of Messianic time', and its idea of art works as compressed images of
reconciled life, or utopia."  (p. 1043)  The Benjamin quote of course comes
from "Theses on the Philosophy of History" in ILLUMINATIONS.


Subject: Plato's Demiurge
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 19:02:28 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Henriette Stavis 

Dear Wayne,

Thank you for telling me about the Demiurge. I had only heard of it from
a teacher in class, so I wasn't sure exactly where the idea came from.

The kenosis bit is Michael's brainchild, so you had better ask him about
that. I do, however, find the idea quite interesting. I assume it is
applicable to Urizen and the golden compass, but again - it's not my area.




Subject: Re: [Fwd: No nun...]
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 13:57:03 -0500
From: "J. Michael" 

Nathan Deeter writes:
>I'm not sure if Blake's fourteen lines are iambic pentameter, though
>they may be "close in spirit and diction" as Mr. Bigley writes, to the
>traditional sonnet. Can it be called a sonnet without a rhyme scheme,
>without a fixed meter? Paul Fussell in "Poetic Meter & Poetic Form"
>writes that "the sonnet is a fourteen-line poem in iambic pentameter:
>the rhyme scheme and the mode of logical organization implied by it
>determine the type." Does the organization of "To the Evening Star"

Good questions. Blake is playing around with all sorts of poetic
conventions, especially rhyme and meter, in _Poetical Sketches_, e.g.
ending a line with "the" in "To the Evening Star."  Susan Wolfson has an
excellent essay on the subject in Mark Greenberg's collection _Speak
Silence_, which I think she also recast as a chapter in her book _Formal

Perhaps a more interesting question than "is this a sonnet" would be "how
does this poem depend on, and work with or against, the sonnet tradition as
Blake inherited it?"

Jennifer Michael


Subject: Re: [Fwd: No nun...]
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 14:43:22 -0500

To deal with only one of the curiously offbase comments in Mr. Deeter's
post, I wonder what "chronology" he is referring to and what he
means by "publishing" and where he locates "the turn of the century"?
Blake *never* published anything in any conventional sense of the term,
but he did "engrave" for most of his life.  On what authority is it
asserted that he wrote no poetry or prophecy after the turn of the
century--no Milton?  No Jerusalem?  No other miscellaneous poems?
It's hard to know what to make of this.
Tom Dillingham


Subject: Re: sonnets
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 17:50:30 -0700
From: David Rollison 

I don't know if I believe in John Updike, but there are unrhymed sonnets
by both Michael McClure and Allen Ginsberg.

Norman Carlson wrote:
> How can one NOT believe in the unrhymed sonnet???
> There's one by John Updike on page 66 of the July 20, 1998 issue
> Norman Carlson


Subject: My Beautiful Sonette
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998 00:44:04 -0400
From: "Hugh Walthall" 

Mr. Blake's skin don't dirt.  The earth is flat.  Oil Painters are all on
Urizen's payroll.  Blake is one of the technical geniuses of English
Prosody-- but compared to Milton he's a slapdash amateur.  The "With Thee
conversing I forget all time" section of Paradise Lost is a double Sestina!
Anyway, it is Milton's Allegro & Penserso (Shampoo & Conditioner)  that are
the models for all of Blake's Songs and Sketches.  And anyway Blake is more
of a bottom feeder than Milton-- Percy's Reliques, Child Ballads--  a
flawless ear for English speech & song.  "the silly greek & latin slaves of
the sonnette"  oops, that isn't an exact quote, is it?  The great figure
skater refuses to compete in one compulsory event.  What can you say?  Blake
is too much quirky, late and soon.

.Hugh Walthall


Subject: [Fwd: Re: sonnets]
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 20:47:45 -0800
From: ndeeter 

Subject: Re: sonnets
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 20:47:10 -0800
From: ndeeter 

Norman Carlson wrote:

> How can one NOT believe in the unrhymed sonnet???
> There's one by John Updike on page 66 of the July 20, 1998 issue

I don't believe in THE NEW YORKER either.

Nathan Deeter


Subject: Re: My Beautiful Sonette
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998 07:56:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ralph Dumain 

Hugh, you don't know how I've missed you.  I was talking to Byron the other
day, and he said: "It must be Shelley 'cause Blake don't shake like that."

At 12:44 AM 7/31/98 -0400, Hugh Walthall wrote:
>Mr. Blake's skin don't dirt.  The earth is flat.


Subject: Blake and Adorno
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998 19:39:22 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Henriette Stavis 

Dear Ralph,

Some of the books you recommended in your mails have been very helpful.
TYPOLOGIES IN ENGLAND by Korshin was excellent.

Michelli's book on Kant was also very good and it covered the exact time
period that I needed.

In your last mailing to the list you mentioned something about Blake and
Walter Benjamin. You also mentioned Adorno briefly. Do you know whether
Blake and Adorno have been discussed. I was thinking that if the
Frankfurt School is interesting, then there might be something on Blake

I hope you had a good hibernation. My two cats would never let my sleep
that long!


PS. I'v been reading in 'Vaterländisches Museum' (ie. the periodical in
which the Crabb article was published) and it looks very promising. The
book itself is very fragile since it is not a reprint, but an original.
That means that the book that I'm reading was published in 1811! It's
quite an amazing feeling. The book is so old that the library stamp does
say the Royal Danish Library in Danish, but in Latin!


Subject: Re: Blake and Adorno
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998 21:16:38 -0500

Henriette--In case you need easier access to Robinson's article on
Blake, it is printed in full (both German and English) in _Blake
Records_, edited by G.E. Bentley, Jr.
Tom Dillingham


Subject: Re: The Demiurge-Christian Atheism/Blake
Date: Sat, 1 Aug 1998 12:32:01 -0500

Check back in the Blake-L archives--about 2 or 2 1/2 years ago there was
a lengthy discussion of "kenosis" and I think Altizer was brought in,
along with Ernst Fischer, whose _Atheism in Christianity_ might ahve
been relevant.  Also Thomas Merton.
Tom Dillingham


Subject: Bibliographic thanks
Date: Mon, 3 Aug 1998 11:05:26 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Henriette Stavis 

Dear Ralph,

Of course, I'll share my notes and thoughts with you once I've worked my
way through them. I should, however, warn you that this may take
sometime. At the moment I've got two weeks to write a chapter on the
structure of time in Milton's 'Paradise Lost' and after that I've got to
prepare my teaching for next semester. I'm teaching a survey course in
British Literature and I haven't read Beowulf, Chaucer and Mallory for
eight years! I also have to teach a course on essay writing and how to
analyze literary texts, so if you don't hear any report on all the
bibliographies that you've been so kind to send me, it's not because I'm
not sharing. It's because I haven't had the time to read them.

This summer has been great. I've had time for my own research, but it's
back to reality now.

About Adorno, I haven't been through his complete AESTHETIC THEORY, what
I picked up on was one particular metaphor that I thought was especially
beautiful. He says that art - be it musical, pictorial, or poetical - is
like a rainbow. It disappears if you get too close, and this for me is
very much what reading Blake is all about.

Henriette Stavis