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Title: The encyclopaedia of hell : Wiliam Blake and the differential imagination
Author: Forbes, Nicholas George
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 1029
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines William Blake's engagement with the problem of pro- ducing "prophetic" art within the confines of the fallen world, in which it is necessarily constructed using inherited fallen materials and addressed to a fallen audience. It focuses primarily on the discourse and textuality of Jeru- salem, which it reads as a negotiation of the problem of the need to con- struct prophetic vision in the context of the impossibility of any such pronouncement within history. Jerusalem is examined as a differentiated en- cyclopaedia of Minute Particulars drawn from across Blake's contexts (intel- lectual, historical, cultural, etc) in a text that is a static tissue or weave of found fragments (citations) of fallen experience. This is analysed in relation to the encyclopaedic discourse of Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project, which mediates between idealism and fatalism by addressing the fallen world as it is manifested in the material phenomena of history. Benjarnin's approach is centred around his concept of the dialectical image, which presents material phenomena dialectically so as to trigger a recognition by the audience of the fallen state that they manifest, and the existential potential that fallen occu- pation conceals. This thesis examines the operation of this materialist dia- lectic in Blake's art, as a means of redeeming the contents of the work from fallen (discursive) significance by reactivating the creative imagination of the audience. It focuses on the strategies of decentralisation and fragmenta- tion by which the fallen particulars of Jerusalem are consistently desituated from their fallen settings and placed into a shifting and de structured textual field. This makes possible the active intervention of the audience who, in the act of reading, can resolve particulars into dialectical constellations in which their shared fallen status can become apparent, and thereby be overcome.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available