'The Place Where Contrarieties are Equally True’: Blake and the Science-Fiction Counterculture

Whittaker, Jason (2022) 'The Place Where Contrarieties are Equally True’: Blake and the Science-Fiction Counterculture. Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 98 (1). pp. 93-106. ISSN 2054-9318

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.7227/BJRL.98.1.8

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'The Place Where Contrarieties are Equally True’: Blake and the Science-Fiction Counterculture
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Abstract

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

Keywords:William Blake, Angela Carter, J.G. Ballard, science fiction
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film, Media & Journalism > Lincoln School of Film, Media & Journalism (Journalism)
ID Code:48406
Deposited On:22 Mar 2022 10:41

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