By D. Rainsford
Dominic Rainsford examines ways that literary texts could appear to touch upon their authors' moral prestige. Its argument develops via readings of Blake, Dickens, and Joyce, 3 authors who locate in particular shiny methods of casting doubt on their lonesome ethical authority, whilst they disclose wider social ills. The booklet combines its curiosity in ethics with post-structuralist scepticism, and therefore develops a kind of radical humanism with functions a long way past the 3 authors instantly mentioned.
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Extra info for Authorship, Ethics and the Reader: Blake, Dickens, Joyce
It is important for our interpretation of Blake's attachment to contraries that both sets can be understood as representing his beliefs. The first set, series [a], expounds a rationalist epistemology based upon the physical senses. There is no implication, at this stage, that the sense-limited world is a bad thing: the illustration to the first proposition in series [a], for example, of man and dog engaging in 'natural perception', is very attractive (IB, 28). 28 'Moral fitness', however, does not appear to be a concept of which Blake approves.
16; E, 276 and 281, 279) - he uses these elements for ends that are distinctively his own. 4; E, 276). The precise cause of this breach between parents and children is unclear: Blake expresses it simply as the mutual hatred of two generations. Thus Heuxos, Tiriel's eldest son, complains in general terms of his father's tyranny, but reviles him with specific reference to his age: Old man unworthy to be calld. the father of Tiriels race For evry one of those thy wrinkles, each of those grey hairs Are cruel as death.
In accordance with Blake's belief that his way of seeing has a transcendent validity, he extrapolates the idea of 'the Poetic or Prophetic Genius', present in There is No Natural Religion, towards the wider concept of 'the Spirit of Prophecy', which appears in All Religions are One (E, 1). In doing so, he identifies himself with Christ, as opposed to the legalistically and moralistically moribund Old Testament, and commences his revelation of the 'true . . 33 Thus, Blake may be seen as evolving a unified account of human history, which will logically come to involve historical or quasi-historical individuals who have themselves concentrated experience into an imaginative vision - such as Isaiah, Christ and Milton - from his own tendency to exist in intellectual autonomy, by making the latently solipsistic, a priori identification of his imagination with truth.