William Blake called himself a "sublime Artist" and acknowledged his own power to create "the Most Sublime Poetry." Words of Eternity reveals the fundamental importance of the term "sublime" in a defining of Blake's poetic achievement. This first full-length study of Blake and the sublime demonstrates that a sophisticated theory of sublimity permeates his writings, serving him as a personal poetics, a framework in which the difficulties and unusual strategies of the works find their rationale. Vincent De Luca combines historically grounded source study with insights from modern critical theories of textuality to identify Blake's two opposing conceptions of sublimity--a sublime of obscurity, terror, and material power and one of determinate, concentrated intellectual design. De Luca examines the interplay between these two modes from differing perspectives--theoretical, stylistic, and thematic. As the perspectives widen, they embrace many of the speculative systems of Blake's time and reveal these systems as various displaced modalities of an underlying sublime discourse. "Words of Eternity is one of the dozen or so most important books ever written about Blake's poetry. De Luca provides a wealth of new insights on every page."--Robert N. Essick, University of California, Riverside "With the context that this book supplies, we take a quantum leap in the sense we can make of Blake's project. De Luca opens our eyes to a Blake, and a sublime, that will never again be the same for us."--Nelson Hilton, University of Georgia
Originally published in 1991.
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