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A study of William Blake's Milton A Poem

Joyce, Sarah; (1997) A study of William Blake's Milton A Poem. Masters thesis (M.Phil), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores and evaluates critical responses to William Blake's Milton A Poem. Chapter One analyses these into three categories representing distinct but not necessarily exclusive assumptions concerning the poem's meaning and purpose. These assumptions are o that it is a work of mainly private significance exploring autobiographical events; o that it presents a set of arguments concerning art and literature, cosmology, human ontology and Christian theology; and o that it addresses its readers with a spiritually didactic, rather than argumentative purpose, aiming to provoke inner conversion. The main argument of the thesis derives from the second assumption, but all three approaches contribute to its full response to the poem. Chapter Two establishes that the poem was in production between approximately 1804 and 1818, a period of considerable personal upheaval in Blake's life, during which he consolidated his views on British art and re-evaluated his relationship with Christianity. Chapters Three and Four present an interpretation of the poem's narrative of Milton's return which reflects these concerns. Chapter Five explores the significance of the variations between the four copies. The thesis argues that Milton articulates Blake's rapprochement between his antinomian and humanist values and his Christianity. The substance of Milton and the manner of its production and revision indicate that it may itself have been a vehicle of the development of Blake's thought and his re-evaluation of his faith, since it is only in the fuller version printed in c. 1818 that Blake interpolated his concept of 'states' into the narrative of Milton's return. This concept transforms the language of election and reprobation, freeing it from predestinarian associations and attaching it to a model of individual spiritual progression. An Appendix describes some intriguing parallels between aspects of Milton's, narrative and certain beliefs of the Muggletonians, and considers the possibility that their tradition may have informed Blake's Christian inheritance.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil
Title: A study of William Blake's Milton A Poem
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics;
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099952
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