By Helen P. Bruder
William Blake and the Daughters of Albion bargains a problem to the Blake institution. by way of putting a few of Blake's early prophetic works in startlingly new historic contexts (most provocatively these of girl behavior and pornography) a really assorted picture of the unconventional Blake emerges. The booklet indicates what could be accomplished whilst a tough method, feminist historicism, is delivered to endure on a canonical author and on now canonized interpretations of his paintings.
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Extra info for William Blake and the Daughters of Albion
Blake clearly looked at constructions of sexual difference like this one and set about redefining femininity in ways which would include precisely those disruptive qualities which the horrified Fordyce claims de-sex, and indeed de-humanize, women. Moreover, the family serves no such protective function in Blake's poetry and no great heavenly patriarch is trusted to organize the sexual relationships of humanity. All is flux and conflict, all is debate and argument, all is open to challenge and change in Blake's sexual universe; and, as I hope to demonstrate, this is one of the best reasons for our continued reading of his poetry.
97 Refusal to acknowledge any self-conscious or even self-critical elements in Blake's treatment of gender and sexuality is surely an imperious decision and one which I hope to problematize in the course of this study. One comment that can be made in Webster's favour is that the scope of her study (the book is a long and well-illustrated 325 pages) ensures that she brings to our attention aspects of 30 William Blake and the Daughters of Albion Blake's sexual imagery neglected in the past. The same thing can also be said of the work of Margaret Storch, whose Kleinian writings on Blake and women are nevertheless flawed in much the same way as Webster's.
For example, Thompson shows how many of the sexually radical ideas of the ranters were still alive in the 1790s yet these are not substantially related to Blake's work; he explains a host of Muggletonian heresies concerned with original sin and the role of Eve yet he largely avoids any discussion of Blake's view of these things - opting instead for a brief chastisement of the poet: 'It should be said, and sharply, that Blake, who is supposed to have transcended gender prejudices, often was willing to employ anti-feminine imagery' (pp.