Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Blake and the Assimilation of Chaos

Blake and the Assimilation of Chaos

Christine Gallant
Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 216
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Blake and the Assimilation of Chaos
    Book Description:

    In all of his works Blake struggled with the question of how chaos can be assimilated into imaginative order. Blake's own answer changed in the course of his poetic career. Christine Gallant contends that during the ten year period of composition of Blake's first comprehensive epic,The Four Zoas, Blake's myth expanded from a closed, static system to an open, dynamic process. She further argues that it is only through attention to the changing pattern of Jungian archetypes in the poem that one can discern this profound change.

    Using the depth psychology of Jung, Professor Gallant presents a comprehensive interpretation of Blake's poetry from his early "Lambeth" prophecies to his mature works,The Four Zoas, Milton, andJerusalem. She offers a Jungian critical approach that respects the work's autonomy, but still suggestshowliterature is an ongoing imaginative experience in which archetypal symbols affect their literary contexts. What interests the author is the function that the very process of mythmaking had for Blake.

    Professor Gallant finds that the metaphysical opposition between God and Satan in Blake's earlier work gradually evolves into an interplay of these powers in the later works. The quality of Chaos changes for Blake from something unknown and feared, contrary to Order, to something intimately known and embraced.

    Originally published in 1979.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6908-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    There are important areas of Blake’s work that I will be considering here only in passing or not at all: namely, his radical and political side, his philosophical thinking, and his art. Certainly, Blake’s poetry lies in the mainstream of British radicalism of his time; his thought is as rigorous, original, and consistent as that of any philosopher of his time (or, some would argue, any since); and his poetry is largely entwined inextricably with the artwork surrounding it on the engraved plates of the poems or the manuscript pages ofThe Four Zoas. Yet Blake criticism has now reached...

  6. ONE Myth and Non-Myth
    (pp. 9-47)

    William Blake struggled with the question of how chaos can be assimilated into imaginative order in all of his works. With his Lambeth Books and Prophecies of the 1790s, he began to address directly this fundamental issue with which all myth may be said to be concerned. These poems primarily attempt to forge a mythos, while at the same time intentionally showing the possible errors into which the mythmaker may fall. They make possible Blake’s later centripetal prophecies, themselves “regenerative” of their readers:The Four Zoas, Milton, andJerusalem.

    Blake’s early conception of chaos seems close to the classical Greek...

  7. TWO The Balance of Archetypes in The Four Zoas
    (pp. 48-94)

    It might seem at first that the political aspects of “regeneration” are not as germane toThe Four Zoasas they are to Blake’s earlier poetry. The millennium is seen as an imminent historical possibility in the Lambeth Prophecies, and more as a psychological event inThe Four Zoas. Here, Blake gives us “the torments of Love & Jealousy in the Death and Judgement of Albion the Ancient Man” as that “Man’s” psychological faculties try to work together to achieve the final “Resurrection from the dead” (1.4.5). But Blake’s very designation of this Adam Kadmon, this Everyman, this archetype of the...

  8. THREE The Reassumption of Ancient Bliss
    (pp. 95-115)

    Mircea Eliade says that all the countless eschatological myths throughout the world celebrate the “repetition of the mythical moment of the passage from chaos to cosmos”: the end of the world followed by a regeneration of life.¹ The believer in such a myth could experience this future regenerationin the presentthrough ritual. This ritual “reproduce[s] a primordial act … repeat[s] a mythical example”² and reestablishes “sacred” time for the celebrant, that time when the rhythms of the cosmos show the sacred force behind that cosmos.³ The ritual abolishes “profane” time (that is, non-mythical time) for the worshipper, making him...

  9. FOUR Going Forth to the Vintage of Nations
    (pp. 116-154)

    Miltonrequires a psychological analysis more than any other of Blake’s poems, for ifThe Four Zoastakes place in Albion’s “circling Nerves” (FZ1.11.15),Miltonis quite intentionally enacted in Blake’s own “Human Brain.”The Four Zoashad explored the general nature of the unconscious, seeking to discover what itis. One of the many remarkable aspects of that poem was its unerring accuracy in giving us the very workings of the unconscious, both in dramatic actions and in symbols.Miltonadvances to examine the unconscious as it acts within Blake himself, the individual man who was a poet...

  10. FIVE Beyond Myth, Beyond Non-Myth
    (pp. 155-186)

    Blake indeed sings “of the Sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through Eternal Death!” inJerusalem, as the first lines of that poem promise. He renders chaos in its “Minute Particulars,” and that polarity does not appear here as “the soul-shuddring vacuum,” “Voidness,” “the Abyss,” or “Eternal Death.” Instead the characters endure the horrors of modern warfare, industrialism, and the reactionary political climate of early nineteenth-century England. It is as if we are taken into the world of the chants of Ahania and Enion inThe Four Zoas, or the Ulro through which Milton and Ololon pass inMilton,...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-196)
  12. Index
    (pp. 197-198)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 199-199)