Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

``Now my lot in the heaven is this''. A study of William Blake's own acknowledged sources: Shakespeare, Milton, Isaiah, Ezra, Boehme, and Paracelsus

William Garfield Wall, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Abstract

My study was prompted by a hostile reaction to S. Foster Damon' s claim that Blake read the Bhagavad-Gita. I am intimately familiar with that work, intellectually, spiritually, in translation, and in the original Sanskrit. This reaction led me to question the validity of recent Blake criticism. My research concentrated on a verse letter to John Flaxman in which Blake names his most inspirational sources: Milton, Shakespeare, Isaiah, Ezra, Boehme, and Paracelsus. I draw heavily on historians, such as E. P. Thompson, Nigel Smith, and A. L. Morton, and recent critics, such as Robin Aubrey, John Mee, Mark Trevor Smith, and of course David Erdman, to refute what I consider wrong-headed assumptions in Blake criticism. The net effect of my preliminary study validates to a large extent Northrop Frye's, and to a lesser extent, Harold Bloom's, reading of Blake. Still, whether the above critics or others seem to be right or wrong, none takes into account the concept that Blake is not an intellectual, but a preacher. He is proselytizing. Understanding his theological stance is so fundamental to understanding Blake that I remain mystified that scholars have insisted on an aesthetic motive for his work. Aesthetics may be the means, but the end is theology. My study shows how Blake's theology is visionary, sophisticated and cogent and, perhaps more significantly, widely shared, especially among the working classes. ^

Subject Area

Religion, History of|Religion, Biblical Studies|Literature, English

Recommended Citation

William Garfield Wall, "``Now my lot in the heaven is this''. A study of William Blake's own acknowledged sources: Shakespeare, Milton, Isaiah, Ezra, Boehme, and Paracelsus" (January 1, 1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. Paper AAI9721496.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI9721496

Share

COinS