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Title: 'Two congenial beings of another sphere' : Peter Sterry as a theological precursor to William Blake
Author: Youansamouth, Edward
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 666X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis seeks to explicate, and develop an appropriate method for the elucidation of, the antecedents to the theology of William Blake in the writings of the seventeenth-century divine, Peter Sterry (1613-1672). While the radical religious scene of the English Revolution has long been recognised as offering important antecedents to Blake's thought, Sterry is a figure who has largely been overlooked. The exception to this is an essay, published in 1929, in which Vivian de Sola Pinto asserted the existence of 'startling affinities' between their ideas. Pinto's study was, however, limited by its failure to consider, firstly, the implications of its findings for our general understanding of the antecedents to Blake's thought in the seventeenth century and, secondly, the insight Sterry's writings may be able to offer into Blake's theological vision. These are the very questions at the heart of this dissertation. By addressing them, it seeks to shed new light on the nature of Blake's theology and its anticipations in earlier English thought. Given the lack of evidence that Blake read Sterry, and the limited effectiveness of the 'genealogical' method when it comes to Blake, it pioneers a bespoke 'analogical' method for the exploration of these issues. It proposes that Sterry is actually closer to the intellectual milieu of Commonwealth radicalism than one might expect and that his writings function effectively as a lens through which it is possible to discern how Blake consistently uses 'dualistic' language and imagery in an ethical and epistemological sense. The first finding suggests that the established view of the radical religious environment in Blake studies needs to be extended; the second challenges the widespread perception that Blake's thought is ultimately dualistic in an ontological sense, thus contributing to the elucidation of a perennial problem for Blake scholarship. Together, they underline Sterry's importance as a neglected theological precursor to the thought of William Blake.
Supervisor: Rowland, Christopher Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Blake, William, 1757-1827 ; Analogical method in historical interpretation ; Sterry, Peter, 1613-1672 ; Theological interpretation of literature and art ; Dialectical theology ; Contraries ; Theology ; Dualism ; Analogy