By D. Rainsford
Dominic Rainsford examines ways that literary texts could appear to touch upon their authors' moral prestige. Its argument develops via readings of Blake, Dickens, and Joyce, 3 authors who locate in particular brilliant methods of casting doubt on their lonesome ethical authority, even as they disclose wider social ills. The publication combines its curiosity in ethics with post-structuralist scepticism, and therefore develops one of those radical humanism with purposes a ways past the 3 authors instantly mentioned.
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Extra info for Authorship, Ethics, and the Reader: Blake, Dickens, Joyce
Locke is mocked in a shallow way by Scopprell ('An Easy of Huming Understanding by John Lookye Gent'), Descartes likewise through Aradobo: 'whenever I think I must think myself - 1 think I do - In the first place' (pp. 8, 5; E, 456, 453). There is a suggestion, in the satirical poem on Dr Johnson, that Blake prefers the immaterialist philosophy of Berkeley: O ho Said Doctor Johnson To Scipio Africanus If you dont own me a Philosopher 111 kick your Roman Anus (p. 25 As such it is a fascinating and disconcerting text.
The Ecchoing Green', for example, opens with spring-like exuberance, but quickly fades to a general devitalization, which could be read simply as the succession of the nighttime, were it not for the bluntness of the terminating couplet, which ought to have sobered and overcast the mind of any child who had read it with understanding: And sport no more seen, On the darkening Green. 22-7; E, 285). That is not to say that it invalidates the state of community and 'play' that Heather Glen admires in the earlier part of the poem, but it makes the contingency of that state supremely palpable.
36 But whereas Tiriel remains in anguish at his own violence, Har has declined into an oblivious senility, anticipating the delusive shades of Beulah in The Four Zoas and Jerusalem, losing all dignity with the memory of his sins. The 'vale of Har' recalls the vales and pools of Poetical Sketches: this is the psychogenie morass under the spectre of selfishness, and Tiriel himself is the lost traveller tempted to subside into a dream under the hill. Melancholia and the Search for a System 35 Tiriel escapes from the Vale of Har, but not from his mental torment.