Sinful writing and pitying readers in "The Book of Urizen"


Sinful writing and pitying readers in "The Book of Urizen"

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Title: Sinful writing and pitying readers in "The Book of Urizen"
Author: Cox, Katherine Natalie
Abstract: This essay investigates the statement William Blake’s illuminated poem The Book of Urizen (1794) makes about sin. Its basic claim is that the poem exposes and recuperates the expressive underside of this deprecated moral construct. It demonstrates how the poem solicits “readings” of various representations of sin, and evinces an analogy between sin and “embodied,” multivalent writing. The paper brings together Blake’s 1808 watercolor, illustrating Satan’s encounter with Sin and Death in the second book of Paradise Lost, and several passages from Blake’s poem Milton, to diagram the various ways that Blake envisions scenes of reading sin. Additionally, an analysis of Milton’s own allegory of Sin explicates the impulse readers feel to “pity” sinful writing in The Book of Urizen. Ultimately, the essay proposes that The Book of Urizen challenges readers, as they move through it, to distinguish the amoral form of sinful expression from “pitying” interpretations (made by characters in the poem) that eventually transform and determine its derogated meaning.
Department: English
Subject: William Blake John Milton Sin Paradise Lost Milton's allegory of Sin and Death Pity
Date: 2011-05

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