the ending fulfills the prophetic beginning. Clearly, Blake's poem belongs in
the historical context of the Revolution debate but with the acknowledgment
that his mythological powers are not, as has been argued, subordinated, constrained, or dictated by history; quite the converse, Blake's interpretation of
history is subordinated to the espousal of his central myth--the absolute necessity of individual imaginative engagement with the world, an engagement that
includes a belief that we live in a moral universe and since, as Blake says in Visions of the Daughters of Albion, "every thing that lives is holy," every being
has a role to play in consummating any revolution.
While he was not a paying member of the London Corresponding Society, run by the shoemaker Thomas Hardy, nor the more urbane Society for Constitutional Information led by John Home Tooke, Blake was friends with many
of the members and was part of the circle of writers and intellectuals that was
associated with his publisher Joseph Johnson and included Fuseli, Paine, Godwin, and Wollstonecraft. For speculation of Blake's participation in radical activities and connection to the Johnson circle, see David Erdman, Prophet
Against Empire, 3d ed. ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), esp. 153- 58, and Marilyn Butler, Romantics, Rebels, and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760-1830 ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981),
esp. 43-44. For general historical readings of Blake and the French Revolution,
see also Jacob Bronowski, William Blake 1757-1827: A Man Without a Mask
( 1944; N.Y.: Penguin, 1954), esp. 67-85. Many scholars have treated Blake and
revolution in less historical, more mythological terms, including most seminally Northrop Frye, Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947), and Harold Bloom, Blake's Apocalypse: A
Study in Poetic Argument ( Garden City, N.J.: Doubleday, 1963).
See Glen Brewster, "'Out of Nature': Blake and the French Revolution," South Atlantic Review 56, no.4 ( Nov. 1991): 7-22; William Richie, "The French
Revolution: Blake's Epic Dialogue With Edmund Burke," ELH 59 ( 1992): 817-
37; Lisa Crafton, "Blake's Swinish Multitude: The Response to Burke in
Blake's The French Revolution," The Friend: Comment on Romanticism 2, no. 1
( April 1993): 1-12.
Marilyn Butler, Romantics, 44. For fuller disussion of Price, see D. O. Thomas
, The Honest Mind: The Thought and Work of Richard Price ( Oxford: Clarendon, 1977). The arguments and counterarguments between Price and Burke continue to be subjects of scholarly discussion; for the most recent, see Steven Blakemore "Misrepresenting the Text: Price, Burke, and the 'October
Days' of 1789," The Friend: Comment on Romanticism 1, no.4 ( Oct. 1992): 1- 9, and
John Faulkner essay in this collection.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The French Revolution Debate in English Literature and Culture.
Contributors: Lisa Plummer Crafton - Editor.
Publisher: Greenwood Press.
Place of publication: Westport, CT.
Publication year: 1997.
Page number: 53.
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