Blake in a Post-Secular Era: Early Prophecies

October, 2012
Originally intended to introduce a study of William Blake’s later prophecies, the late Karl Kroeber’s Blake in a Post-Secular Era: Early Prophecies is an accessible and astute survey of the prophetic work that Blake executed between 1788 and 1794. For Kroeber (1926-2009), former Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University, the post-secular era we are now entering should be prepared to recognize Blake’s centrality in academic literary humanism, which—in its secular phase—excluded Blake on account of his radical Christianity. Such exclusion, Kroeber points out, has not diminished Blake’s immense—and still growing—impact on popular culture, on our music, fiction, film, and graphic novels, as well as on our ideas of creativity, spirituality, and individuality. In stark contrast to the idea of a “universal heart” and to the ideal rational societies envisioned by other Romantic writers, Blake argued that each individual was unique and that only complex social structures based, not on reason, but on the imagination, like Golgonooza, the City of Art, can realize and sustain the individual’s innate divinity.




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