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Title: William Blake in the 1960s : counterculture and radical reception
Author: Walker, Luke
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2015
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The study begins with an account of Blake, as voiced by Allen Ginsberg, taking part in a key Sixties anti-war protest, and goes on to examine some theoretical aspects of Blake's relationship with the Sixties. In Chapter One, I explore the relationship between ‘popular Blake', ‘academic Blake', and ‘countercultural Blake'. The chapter seeks to provide a revisionist account of the relationship between Blake's Sixties popularity and his earlier reception, suggesting that all three elements of Blake's Sixties reception – popular, academic and countercultural – have long been intertwined, and continue to interact in the Sixties themselves. In Chapters Two and Three, I focus in detail on Allen Ginsberg as a central figure not only in Blake's countercultural popularization, but also in the creation of Sixties counterculture itself. The first of these chapters, ‘Visionary Blake, Physical Blake, Psychedelic Blake', looks in detail at Ginsberg's 1948 ‘Blake vision' and the way Ginsberg later uses it to construct a Blakean narrative for the Sixties. I examine the significant differences between the versions of this event presented in Ginsberg's early poems and in his later prose and interview accounts, and Ginsberg's consequent attempts to develop a general theory of poetry in which the specific effects of Blake's poetry on the consciousness are compared to those of psychedelic drugs. Finally, I suggest that there are analogies between this ‘psychedelic' approach to Blake and the interest that Aldous Huxley had in using psychedelics to access Blake's own visionary state of consciousness. Chapter Three, ‘Ginsberg's Blakean Albion', analyses a selection of Ginsberg's poems, all linked to Blake's myth of Albion. I use these poems to examine the tensions present within the three-way relationship between Blake, Ginsberg and British counterculture. Particular attention is given to Ginsberg's poem ‘Wales Visitation' (1967), a work which I suggest is founded on the joint Romantic inheritance of Blake and Wordsworth, and which demonstrates the ways in which various strands of British Romanticism interact both within Ginsberg's poetry and within the broader Sixties counterculture. The final chapter of the study examines various aspects of the relationship between Blake and Bob Dylan, demonstrating the extent of Blake's influence on Dylan, but also tackling the surprisingly complicated and problematic question of the route(s) by which Blake arrives in Dylan's work.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR4140 Blake ; William ; PS0228.B6 Bohemianism. Beat generation ; PS3513.I74 Ginsburg ; Allen