Reader and Read: Production and Re-Production in The Book of Urizen

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Title: Reader and Read: Production and Re-Production in The Book of Urizen
Author: Field, Angela
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Religion
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2011
Abstract: A reading of Blake's The First Book of Urizen (1794) accords the reader an abundance of analytical obstacles, among them most significantly: 1) how best to orient oneself within the bounds of a fundamentally non-grounded, non-stable-perspectival narrative; 2) what to make of the vortex of largely unabating, convoluted metaphorical language; 3) whether to decipher the human figures as symbolic, literal, or none of the above; 4) how to rightly comprehend the apparent mimicry of the earth-body in relation to the human body, including the relation of the human body to the human mind; 5) how to categorize Blake's attitude toward the capacities and incapacities of the human body and human mind; 6) how to make one's way through the chaotic, non-standard grammatical organization and punctuation; 7) how best to interpret the visual constructions both in relation to the textual construction and as solitary structures; and 8) what Blake envisages that the reader will ultimately make of, or do with, the poem as a whole. I intend to look specifically at The Book of Urizen, with minimal reference to any works outside of this by Blake or otherwise; as such, I will occasionally point to outside sources but will primarily use my own instincts to unveil the larger structure of the poem and images and I invite other readers to do the same. While this is a strategy of mine, it is equally supported by the poem itself, which makes up its overarching claims to reality. In fact, the claims that follow confine themselves to the world created by Urizen in order to illumine, using the text and images themselves as guidelines, the above challenges. In other words, one should consider Urizen to be a self-enclosed, self-illuminating work, the substance of which need only be encountered by an informed, or uninformed, reader for illumination as to the ultimate moral for readers to take from Urizen. These above challenges, and the answers obtained, will shed light on the ultimate type of work that Urizen is. As Mitchell writes, "Urizen is not a man 'representing' reason, or a man dominated by the faculty of reason: he is reason, a particular mode of consciousness. Blake's peculiar genius was not in dramatizing the human behavior associated with mental and emotional states, but in exploring the contours of various modes of consciousness as such." Likewise, I will refrain from dramatizing Blake's narrative of Urizen with externally-obtained sources and various knowledge, but will instead explore the contours of Urizen as they stand in themselves.
Subject: Blake, William, 1757-1827. Book of Urizen
Subject: Blake, William, 1757-1827 -- Criticism and interpretation
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2011FieldA_higher_res_appendix.pdf Appendix 48.78Mb PDF
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Field, Angela. "Reader and Read: Production and Re-Production in The Book of Urizen". 2011. Available electronically from

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