The evolution of Blake's 'Vala/The Four Zoas' : its formation, collapse and regeneration
This thesis deals with an important but still imperfectly understood aspect of Vala/The Four Zoas - - how the manuscript of the poem evolved. The entire crystallization of the manuscript of Val a/The Four Zoas is here understood as the gradual regenerative process of a poem which collapsed as a result of a fatal structural failure. The seriousness of this collapse rests on the fact that the earliest Vala, which was concerned with the Fall and Judgement of the cosmic Man, evolved as a comprehensive summary of the fragmentary myths in Blake’s early works. The formation and collapse of the earliest Val a is identified as analogous to the rise and fall of the myth of Ore. The thesis is in two parts. Part I has three chapters, focusing respectively on Ore's origin, the gradual formation of Ore's myth, and its completion and disintegration. Part II begins with a Preliminary Argument outlining the five stages of the evolution of Vala/The Four Zoas. Detailed discussion on each stage follows. Stage 1 is concerned with the first regenerative process, the genesis of Night I as a Preludium. During stage 2 this Preludium is converted into Night I, and is paralleled with the following Night in terms of myths of Fall and Creation. Stage 3 focuses on fluctuations of the myth, the achievement of a basic structure for Nights I-VIIa, and a contest between the formula of Four Zoas versus the idea of Spectre and Emanation. Stage 4 discusses the complicated evolution of Nights VIIa-IX, in which Blake struggles to realize the original significance of the culmination of Ore's myth. Stage 5 brings about the final transformation of the poem, including its development towards the structure of Blake’s myth as found in Jerusalem.