William Blake

Christopher Burdon

in The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199544486
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780198614128 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 William Blake

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The labour of that celebrant of Energy and the Prolific, William Blake (1757–1827), has generated an energetic and prolific diversity of interpretation. Though little known to his contemporaries and largely forgotten after his death, Blake's huge output of art and poetry inspired a range of twentieth-century readers, who drew from him or read into him principles democratic and aristocratic; libertarian and nationalist; activist and quietist; and Christian, Gnostic, and atheist. This article first reflects on how this difficult poet-artisan-prophet-artist can be read theologically. It then examines particular motifs, symbols, and beliefs in Blake, and considers how these might inform or subvert Christian and other theologies today. The article looks at the place of energy and imagination; the notions of ‘Divine Humanity’ and ‘One Man’ or Albion; and the depictions of law, sin, liberty, and forgiveness.

Keywords: William Blake; theology; Christianity; Divine Humanity; Albion

Article.  8132 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Christianity ; Philosophy of Religion

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