Book Chapter

William Blake, the Secularization of Religious Categories, and the History of Imagination

Peter Otto

Constructing Nineteenth-Century Religion: Literary, Historical, and Religious Studies in Dialogue | Ohio State University Press | Published : 2019


This chapter takes as its starting point the discovery, by Kerri Davies and Marsha Keith Schuchard, that Blake’s mother (Catherine Wright) and her first husband (Thomas Armitage) were members of the inner circle of the Moravian Chapel in Fetter Lane, arguably the birth-place of the evangelical revival (Podmore), during the tumultuous period in that Church’s history known as the ‘Sifting Time’ (Peucker; Atwood). This new information dramatically revises previous accounts of the early influences on Blake’s work; but it also, particularly when coupled with Blake’s lifelong engagement/argument with Swedenborgian theology (Otto; Schuchard; Rix), allows us to see the trajectory of his oeuvre in a ..

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