Blake's Gothic humour
The spectacle of dissection
in William Blake's Gothic imagination
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Stephanie Codsi considers a Gothic constellation wherein Blake’s gruesome representations of dissection and critique of mathematical, disinterested calculation intersect with irony and self-parody. Finding a productive analogy between Gothic theatricality and spectacles of torture centering on figures such as Los and Jack Tearguts, Codsi traces the effects elicited by Blake’s art in the reader or viewer, effects that range from revulsion to laughter. In this context, a certain version of the Gothic becomes useful to Blake precisely for its regressiveness: by reading medical science as the field populated by so many absurd, blinkered Victor Frankensteins, Blake would cast rational demonstration and scientific surgery as philosophically and morally retrograde, as frighteningly primitive in their treatment of life as merely physical, appetitive, or—if we can pun on the horrible apes in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell—primate-ive.


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