William Blake and Gender


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About the Book

The closing years of the eighteenth century were the particular domain of literary radicals whose work challenged ideas on gender and sexuality. During this transitional period, the poetry of William Blake reflected the changing mores of society as well as his own developing notions of gender. This work presents an in-depth exploration of gender issues in Blake’s three epic poems, The Four Zoas, Milton and Jerusalem.
The opening chapter discusses basic concepts such as notions of apocalypse, utopia and gender, all essential to the author’s reading of Blake. Background regarding the literary atmosphere of the time, which included influence from the tradition of dissent, English Jacobinism and early feminism, is also included, effectively setting the context for Blake’s work. The book then examines the poems in chronological order. It concentrates particularly on male and female activity within each work (refuting the common assumption that Blake was anti-feminist) while exploring the symbolism of the poetry. Blake’s repeated theme of the struggle between the sexes receives special emphasis, as does the progress of his gender vision through the three poems.

About the Author(s)

Magnus Ankarsjö is a visiting university lecturer at the University of Buckingham in southeast England.

Bibliographic Details

Magnus Ankarsjö
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2341-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8303-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

1. Apocalypse, Utopia and Gender      9

2. Blake’s Radical Context      40

3. The Gender Utopia of The Four Zoas      60

4. The Gender Utopia of Milton      122

5. The Gender Utopia of Jerusalem      158

Afterword      191

Bibliography      197

Index      205