Sheila A. Spector, "Glorious Incomprehensible": The Development of Blake's Kabbalistic Language. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2001. x + 202pp. Illus: 50 b&w and 4 color. $46.50 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-8387-5469-4).
Sheila A. Spector, "Wonders Divine": The Development of Blake's Kabbalistic Myth. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2001. 213pp. Illus.: 54 b&w and 4 color. $59.50 (Hdbk; ISBN: 0-8387-5468-6).
Mark S. Lussier
Arizona State University
N.B.: In this review, the former work is abbreviated as GI, and the latter work is abbreviated as WD.
After a period of seeming dearth in Blake studies, where individual studies of the poet/prophet were rare while collective studies of Romanticism focused on broad movements like colonialism, historicism, and imperialism abounded, the last ten years have seen an explosion of both single studies dedicated to particular aspects of Blake's visionary agenda and essay collections presenting scholarly analyses across a broad spectrum of concerns. This re-turn trend toward single author studies actually delights me, since I've always preferred, as a reader, to participate fully in the critical struggle between the unruly artist and the striving critic that shapes the very background radiation to most memorable studies of Blake. With the appearance of Sheila Spector's double-volume examination of the Kabbalistic dimensions of Blake's linguistic and mythic efforts, the ground of future discussions of the poet's divine vision has shifted radically, since any motivated study of the mythic and mystic dimensions of the major epics would now be required to address this complex mapping of the evolution of "a stable core of fourfold symbols that, remaining fairly close to their kabbalistic prototypes, provide a basis for the later alterations" (WD 107) of the myth after the Lambeth period.