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William Blake's Master Work: The Book of Urizen

William Blake's Master Work: The Book of Urizen

Postby The Exodus » 18 Apr 2009, 04:45

I was wondering if anyone was familiar with this work by William Blake? I find it very intriguing.

The Book of Urizen is a creation story, an alternative Genesis - the connections to the Bible are many and it is not difficult to recognize the source for the protagonist, Urizen, a bearded patriarch, the most stable Western representation of Yahweh. But if Yahweh is at times a god of wrath, Urizen is a demiurge - a misguided creator whose purpose is flawed and whose world is broken - The Book of Urizen is a meditation on Evil as a seed in the very foundations of the universe. What makes Blake relevant is that his evil is neither grounded in Christian puritanism nor romantic rebellion - Blake's evil is the evil of reason and logic ("Urizen" is taken by some critics as a word play on "your reason"). The equation of Reason and Evil is precisely what makes Blake a significant poet for the post-Enlightenment West where reason was supposed to, is supposed to save humanity from its destructive passions and desires....


The rest of this short and thorough review can be read here. http://www.deliriumsrealm.com/delirium/ ... p?Post=411

Thoughts?
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Re: William Blake's Master Work: The Book of Urizen

Postby Tuke » 20 Apr 2009, 02:11

I tried to delve deeply into Blake, but I made the mistake of reading his biography first. I'm afraid I have to agree with Lewis that Blake staked too much of his poetry on his theology and his theology was bathetic.
I do like his shorter pieces.
"The 'great golden chain of Concord' has united the whole of Edmund Spenser's world.... Nothing is repressed; nothing is insubordinate. To read him is to grow in mental health." The Allegory Of Love (Faerie Queene)

2 Corinthians IV.17 The Weight of Glory
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Re: William Blake's Master Work: The Book of Urizen

Postby The Exodus » 20 Apr 2009, 23:54

Tuke wrote:I tried to delve deeply into Blake, but I made the mistake of reading his biography first. I'm afraid I have to agree with Lewis that Blake staked too much of his poetry on his theology and his theology was bathetic.
I do like his shorter pieces.


My understanding is that his theology was quite strange. I don't know though too much about it, other than what I've read on wikipedia (hey, it's easy and all I had available.)

But since you've read Blake a lot, maybe you could gloss over the main points?

Regardless of his Theology - the man's artwork is absolutely amazing!
Corage, God Mend Al! - George MacDonald
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Re: William Blake's Master Work: The Book of Urizen

Postby Tuke » 21 Apr 2009, 01:08

No, I really haven't read a lot of Blake. I had intended to, but lost interest after reading one of his biographers and CS Lewis' brief criticism.
Are you Daniil Leiderman? No matter, from what I have read of Blake's poetry I can't agree that he's among England's greatest poets. I'm only a dilettante but compared to Chaucer, Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare, Milton, Donne, Herbert, Dryden, Pope, Wordsworth, Scott, the Brownings, Tennyson or even the Romantics Byron, Shelly and Keats, Blake is a minor poet in my estimation. The article is well written, though, and piques my curiosity to give Urizen a second try.
Now Blake's artwork is another matter which I highly esteem because it is prophetic with scope for the imagination.
"The 'great golden chain of Concord' has united the whole of Edmund Spenser's world.... Nothing is repressed; nothing is insubordinate. To read him is to grow in mental health." The Allegory Of Love (Faerie Queene)

2 Corinthians IV.17 The Weight of Glory
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Re: William Blake's Master Work: The Book of Urizen

Postby The Exodus » 21 Apr 2009, 03:17

I'm the same - no scholar of poetry but somewhat of an admirer, and I agree. But there is a simple beauty in some of Blake's poetry. I think though that even this element lacks consistency, which is why I only find a few of his poems very powerful or deep.

Urizen, though, is another matter. I've only read a bit of it - just ordered a copy of it, complete with his artwork that goes along with it - so I look forward to giving it more of a chance. The little I've read though it difficult to understand.

I notice your sig mentions Spenser. I have not, embarrassingly, ever read *any* of his writings. I assume you've read the F. Queen and found it brilliant?
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Re: William Blake's Master Work: The Book of Urizen

Postby Tuke » 21 Apr 2009, 19:07

Jerusalem, The Tyger & The Lamb are exquisite favorites of mine.
As to Spenser, I've read all of his poems and all of Lewis' considerable Spenserian criticism. It's been a joy to discover why Lewis loved The Faerie Queene so much. In preparation for my second reading, I've been spending the last eight years reading all of Spenser's voluminous source material for the FQ. I'm disappointed none of my teachers ever recommended The FQ. I don't even remember them alluding to it.
BTW, welcome to the Wardrobe and congratulations upon completing ten posts with all the rights and privileges of Wardrobe citizenship which that entitles you to (such as having a signature)!
"The 'great golden chain of Concord' has united the whole of Edmund Spenser's world.... Nothing is repressed; nothing is insubordinate. To read him is to grow in mental health." The Allegory Of Love (Faerie Queene)

2 Corinthians IV.17 The Weight of Glory
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Re: William Blake's Master Work: The Book of Urizen

Postby The Exodus » 22 Apr 2009, 02:17

Thanks for the welcome!

Eight years of preparation is quite a bit; you'll be quite the resource for the FQ once you've read it through a second time. Is this something you're studying academically, or for self-interest?

I'm a senior in college (English major), so I've briefly examined a lot of people, but delved seriously into very few, and read exhaustively only in a couple people. I have the most knowledge about Tolkien/Lewis/MacDonald. I'm kind of all over the place in terms of taste (Milton to Emerson to Sophocles to Poe to Stephen King lol).

I was wondering when I'd be able to create a signature. I'm also curious when I'll get to be able to view others' profiles?
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Re: William Blake's Master Work: The Book of Urizen

Postby Tuke » 23 Apr 2009, 01:29

The Exodus wrote:Eight years of preparation is quite a bit; you'll be quite the resource for the FQ once you've read it through a second time. Is this something you're studying academically, or for self-interest?
It's self-enrichment, but the source preparation is quite pleasurable. Spenser's sources include the Bible, Aeneid, Iliad, Odyssey, Metamorphoses, Arcadia, Genealogy of the Gods, Morte d'Arthur, Gerusalemme Liberata, Orlando Furioso, and a few others.
I'm a senior in college (English major), so I've briefly examined a lot of people, but delved seriously into very few, and read exhaustively only in a couple people. I have the most knowledge about Tolkien/Lewis/MacDonald. I'm kind of all over the place in terms of taste (Milton to Emerson to Sophocles to Poe to Stephen King lol).
That's exactly why I've adopted Professor Lewis as my mentor. With few exceptions I limit myself to read only books he recommended or endorsed. I glean this list from his literary criticism, personal letters, and the writings of his colleagues and students.
I was wondering when I'd be able to create a signature. I'm also curious when I'll get to be able to view others' profiles?
It should be available to you now automatically, just click on the User Control Panel located near the feet of the CS Lewis caricature atop the page.
"The 'great golden chain of Concord' has united the whole of Edmund Spenser's world.... Nothing is repressed; nothing is insubordinate. To read him is to grow in mental health." The Allegory Of Love (Faerie Queene)

2 Corinthians IV.17 The Weight of Glory
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