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James Riley

This article considers the use made of William Blake by a range of writers associated with the ‘countercultural’ milieu of the 1960s, particularly those linked to its London-based literary context. Iain Sinclair is offered as a writer who, in his appreciation of Blake, stands apart from the poets linked to the anthology, Children of Albion (1969). The article unpacks this distinction, analysing Sinclair’s ‘topographic’ take in comparison to the ‘visionary’ mode of his contemporaries. Having established this dualism, the argument then questions the nature of the visionary poetics assumed to apply to the likes of key poets from the era. The work of Michael Horovitz is brought into view, as is that of Harry Fainlight. In essence, these multiple discourses point to the plurality of Blake as a figure of influence and the variation underpinning his literary utility in post-1960s poetry.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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Douglas Field and Luke Walker
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
W. B. Yeats and William Blake in the 1890s
Jodie Marley

Yeats’s Blake criticism of the 1890s hinged on his knowledge of the esoteric and occult systems that he used as his framework for interpretation of the Romantic poet. This article examines The Works of William Blake: Poetic, Symbolic, and Critical (1893) and Yeats’s 1890s reviews of his contemporary Blake critics, as well as his relationship with the mystic poet and artist George William Russell (Æ), whom he repeatedly compared to Blake. Yeats’s emphasis on the importance of Boehme and Swedenborg in Blake’s system had a major influence on Blake’s critical legacy in the twentieth century, such as S. Foster Damon’s approach to Blake in William Blake: His Philosophy and Symbols (1924) and Kathleen Raine’s Blake and Tradition (1969). Yeats’s engagement with Blake in the 1890s also contributed to the popular conception of Blake as a mystic and visionary artist which still continues.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Blake and the Science-Fiction Counterculture
Jason Whittaker

This article explores the more detached and ironic view of Blake that emerged in the 1970s compared to appropriations of him in the 1960s, as evident in three science-fiction novels: Ray Nelson’s Blake’s Progress (1977), Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve (1977), and J. G. Ballard’s The Unlimited Dream Company (1979). In adopting a more antagonistic posture towards Blake, all three of these books reflect increasingly ambivalent attitudes towards the countercultures of the 1960s, and can be read as critical of some of those very energies that the Romantic movement was seen to embody. Thus Nelson rewrites the relationship of William and Catherine, in which the engraver comes under the influence of a diabolic Urizen, while Carter recasts the Prophet Los as a Charles Manson-esque figure. Even Ballard, the most benign of the three, views Blakean energy as a release of potentially dangerous psychopathologies. In all the novels, we see a contrarian use of misprision, rewriting Blake as Blake had rewritten Milton.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Michael Horovitz

In this article, written in his signature style, Michael Horovitz reflects on his longstanding fascination with William Blake. He recalls how the spirit of Blake loomed large at the International Poetry Incarnation at the Albert Hall in the summer of 1965, where his fellow travellers, among them Adrian Mitchell, were driven by the nineteenth-century poet. Horovitz recounts the ways that Blake has continued to inform his artistic practices, which cut across from poetry to music and visual art.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Colin Trodd

The first part of this article focuses on previously unstudied materials relating to the critical recuperation of William Blake in the period between c.1910 and 1930. It notes how commentators utilised ideas of citizenship and hospitality when they attempted to modernise Blake’s interests and concerns. It explains how these distinctive critical idioms were constructed, what they had in common and how they situated Blake in larger public arguments about the social significance of cultural creativity. The second part of the article traces the ramifications of this new way of thinking about Blake by noting his appearance in modernist and neo-romantic art criticism in the 1930s and 1940s.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Patricia Allmer

This chapter analyses Minck’s 2003 film Im Anfang war der Blick as a surreal and densely intertextual exploration of Austria’s landscapes, which it reads as allegories of the country’s history. The chapter explores the film’s focus on the importance of the Styrian Erzberg, the site of Nazi atrocities and now a key tourist attraction, and on Salzburg and its musical traditions and their relations to Austria’s Nazi history.

in The traumatic surreal
Patricia Allmer

This chapter reads a selection of Birgit Jürgenssen’s works of the early 1970s, including her Hausfrau drawings and her Schuhwerk pieces, as responses to key moments in Austria’s history of Nazi complicity and specifically the roles played by women in this history. It closes with an analysis of her 1973 drawing Mit der Bahn in eine bessere Zukunft, which it relates to specific wartime events in Austria.

in The traumatic surreal
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Patricia Allmer

The Introduction frames the book’s argument in relation to the development of Surrealism as a response to historical trauma, and identifies and locates the tradition of Germanophone women artists to be addressed in subsequent chapters. It establishes the significance of the moment of Erschütterung or ‘traumatic shattering’ that will recur as a motif in subsequent chapters.

in The traumatic surreal
Patricia Allmer

This chapter explores Oppenheim’s period of ‘artistic block’ (c.1937–55) and examines her work produced during the war years when she was resident in Switzerland. It pays particular attention to her untranslated screenplay Kaspar Hauser oder Die Goldene Freiheit (1942–43).

in The traumatic surreal