Locke and Blake: A Conversation across the Eighteenth Century

By Wayne Glausser | Go to book overview

PREFACE

To my knowledge, this book has no obvious model. It might best be described as a composite critical biography, organized by topics of cultural significance for the long eighteenth century. Although the sequence of chapters loosely suggests a progress from cradle to grave, the biographical narratives are neither continuous nor complete, and I am primarily concerned with useful critical topics rather than thorough coverage of either life. My intention is to find a middle ground between biography, with its emphasis on identifying the unique subject, and social history, where details of individual lives are neutralized and absorbed by cultural paradigms.

The project grew from a conference paper about Blake's printing imagery in which Locke was to play a minor (and conventionally oppositional) role. An unexpected lingering over Locke upset the original purposes of that paper. Over time I found it productive to think about a number of topics from the double perspective of Locke and Blake, who have traditionally been positioned as adversaries at the edges of the eighteenth century. In revisiting their lives and works I am trying to discover more complicated patterns of comparison. Each chapter begins with a biographical connection between Locke and Blake. Some of these connections are quite specific--for example, the fact that both had to defend themselves against sedition charges, or (on a smaller scale) their respective angry fits about a picture stolen by a friend. Other connections are more general, as in the chapter about medicine and the body. Each biographical parallel suggests a broader topic of textual as well as contextual importance for Locke and Blake. The topics offered here are by no means the only ones that might come to mind: prominent topics that I tried out but finally dropped include language, education, and fathers. I abandoned these topics not for lack of material but because the symbiotic benefits of the composite analysis seemed less significant.

Blake scholars have produced several comparative books in which Blake is clearly the foreground figure. Within this genre of "Blake and _____" books,

-ix-

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Locke and Blake: A Conversation across the Eighteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1 from Caricature to Conversation 1
  • Chapter 2 Mothers, the Matrix, and Marriage 13
  • Chapter 3 Two English Physicians 43
  • Chapter 4 Slavery 62
  • Chapter 5 Seditious Plots 92
  • Chapter 6 Possessions 121
  • Chapter 7 Printing 141
  • Chapter 8 Epitaphs 163
  • Notes 166
  • Bibliography 183
  • Index 191
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