It’s summer. Offices are empty; others are under construction. Many of us have been called away on summer business or have fled to more exotic locales. I’m on the road myself, typing from a very fine bagel shop in Ithaca, NY.
I like to travel. I really like bagels.
Unfortunately, an adventurous cosmopolitan spirit and dedication to the most hole-y of rolls doesn’t offer a lot of traction with our man Blake. Readers who are even somewhat familiar with Blake’s biography know that he didn’t exactly “get out” much. Except for a few years spent near the shore in Felpham (way down in West Sussex), Blake never really left London. (Also no evidence that he ever got hold of a really good bagel.)
But perusing the Archive, we know that Blake did appreciate travel. Only, his travel was more the internal, “like, far-out, man,” kind of movement.
I’m referencing, of course, Blake’s poem “The Mental Traveler” from his unpublished Pickering Manuscript. The poem–like a lot of Blake’s stuff–recounts a vision full of artistic and religious symbolism. Here’s a ms. excerpt of the first few lines:
I traveld thro’ a Land of Men
A Land of Men & Women …read more
By firstname.lastname@example.org by Brian Wall Before delving into how, as I suggested in my first post, law and literature can enhance our understanding of key nineteenth-century transatlantic texts, I think it is worthwhile to briefly review what is actually meant by the catch-all phrase “law and literature.” This field, which has grown greatly since the publication of […] …read more
Ildiko Csengei is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Huddersfield. After completing her doctorate at the University of Cambridge, she held an R. A. Butler Fellowship at Pembroke College, Cambridge. Before taking up her current post, she was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of English at Cambridge and Director of Studies in English at Newnham College. Her research focuses on the literature and culture of sensibility, Romanticism and war, the history of emotions and the intersections between science, literature and history. Below, we discuss her wide-ranging and fascinating first monograph, Sympathy, Sensibility and the Literature of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
1) Sympathy, Sensibility and the Literature of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century focuses particularly on ‘the darker side of sympathy’, examining its ‘morally and politically charged ambivalence’. How did you first become interested in this area?
During my very first term as a PhD student I came across Albrecht von Haller’s A Dissertation on the Sensible and Irritable Parts of Animals in Cambridge University Library’s Rare …read more
By manuchander by Manu Samriti Chander I began to discuss in my last post the Guyanese author Egbert Martin, specifically describing him as a Shelleyan, unacknowledged legislator. Though we know little about Martin’s life, it is believed his ancestry was at least partly German and African or Afro-Caribbean. From his remarks on Scriptology, his collection of short […] …read more
In the past month, I’ve transitioned from working on Blake’s letters and begun transcribing and building the BAD for “The Phoenix,” a newly discovered work by Blake whose provenance is (most conveniently) recorded in Bentley’s Blake Books supplement, one of BAND’s go-to reference works. Written in various shades of colored ink (and in a careful, vastly neater hand than Blake’s normal handwriting), “The Phoenix” is a brief, charming piece of verse dedicated to Mrs. Elizabeth Butts, wife of Thomas Butts, a clerk in the office of Britain’s Commissionary General of Musters and one of Blake’s main patrons from the years 1794-1806.
Aside from its simplicity and whimsical, lighthearted tone, what interests me most about this piece is how it reveals Blake’s dependence on—and consequently, the necessity of expressing generosity towards—the small circle of patrons who commissioned work from him. When we look at Blake’s e to stay in the small cottage he shared with his own wife, Catherine, in the pastoral town of Lambeth. He also occasionally writes verse to both Mr. and Mrs. Butts in the text of his letters, perhaps to flatter as well as honor their long friendship. Fortunately, Blake’s relationship with Butts remained amiable; in …read more
In my last post, we were left wondering what the “P&S.” or “E&S.” written at the bottom of one of the “Pale desire” manuscript pages could mean. (If you haven’t been keeping up, you can find the first and second installments of our saga here and here.) Well, Sandy and I both took a stab at it.
“Pale desire” is full of abstract concepts personified as gods. These generally breed, dwell together, act in concert, etc.–and so there are multiple references to “Conceit & Emulation,” “Scorn & Slander,” and so on. I wondered if “P&S.”/”E&S.” could be an abbreviated reference to the names of two of these gods and perhaps be part of an abandoned addition. (The abbreviation is not deleted, but Blake sometimes abandons additions without bothering to strike them elsewhere in this manuscript.) To run with my theory– on the page in which the abbreviation appears, there are mentions of Slander, Shame, Strife, Scorn, Self love, and Suspicion (to cover “S”); Pride and Policy (to cover “P”); and Emulation (to cover “E”). I thought it likely that the abbreviation would be “P&S.”, since Emulation is only mentioned in tandem with …read more
By email@example.com by Jo Taylor At the Cheltenham Science Festival last week, Richard Dawkins asked the audience if encouraging childhood beliefs in fairies and fairy tales was a good thing. Might belief in these kinds of fantasies be ‘pernicious’, he wondered? Might belief in Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy actually encourage an undesirable […] …read more
For our final seminar of the term – and of this academic year – we’re delighted to be welcoming back former Romantic Realignments convenor, Judyta Frodyma, who’s going to be speaking to us about the reception of Wordsworth’s works and ideas in America. As ever, all are welcome at both the seminar and the wine reception afterwards – held from 5:15pm, St Cross (English Faculty) Building, Seminar Room A – so please join us for what promises to be a fantastic talk to wrap up the 2013-2014 programme.
I examine Wordsworth’s reach as a ‘prophet of the nation’ by exploring the reception of his poetry on the other side of the Atlantic. I take my lead from Elizabeth Peabody’s letters and manuscripts and other Transcendentalist writers. Peabody says of Wordsworth that he was ‘the Messiah of the reign of the saints,’ and ‘a true Christian prophet.’ Wordsworth’s initial impact on America was one that strongly resonated with Unitarian readings of Scripture. I will compare the American approach to landscape in the late nineteenth century with Wordsworth’s own, and address the widely-used rhetoric of Wordsworth’s …read more
In her May 14 post, “Blake’s ‘Catalogue’ and Descriptive Criticism,” my colleague and fellow undergraduate project assistant, Megan, impugned Blake, suggesting that his tone in the Descriptive Catalogue evinces a character somewhere on a spectrum between ridiculous and certifiable. I would like to offer a different response to, if not impression of, Mr. B’s insane aggression as manifested in the Descriptive Catalogue.
Megan and I have both been working for a while now on checking our transcription of the Descriptive Catalogue against our standard references: she, Bentley; I, Erdman (the Descriptive Catalogue is a typographical work—stay tuned for a possible blog post about the concept of transcribing typographical works by someone who knows more about it than I!). My disclaimer is that she has finished this checking, while I am about 20% done, which means that she has read through quite a bit more of Blake’s accusatory aesthetic rhetoric than I.
However, I beg to differ that Blake is either laughable or alarmingly mad in his disgruntled ramblings—I prefer adjectives like “adorable,” “justifiable,” or “endearing.” First off, I think the fact that Blake nicknames himself “Mr. B” deserves more attention than passing mention. William …read more