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Selfhood And Redemption In Blake's Songs


This reading of Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience provides a more immediate sense of Blake's psychology of redemption and a more penetrating treatment of the role of death and sexuality in the Songs than is available in any other scholarly work. Pagliaro shows that the Songs not only anticipate the redemption generally associated with the later poems, but also make it available in such psychological detail as to give new meaning to Selfhood, Self-examination, and Self-annihilation, and to encourage the reader to participate in the redemptive process. This is the first book to stress the role death plays in the Songs, and the first to detail the changing psychological responses of individual characters as an unconscious function of bodily mortality. The discussion here of the ways in which sexuality and mortality interact in Blake's poetry is immediately persuasive. Pagliaro shows that Blake understands how the rationalizing mind of the natural man is formed and how it operates, and that he understands what it takes for such a mind to rid itself of error. Blake is unique among the English romantics in this regard.

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Pennsylvania State University Press


The first chapter of this work is freely available courtesy of Pennsylvania State University Press.

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