The Reader and Self-Annihilation


Whereas Milton concerns itself with the annihilation of authorial Selfhood, Jerusalem moves beyond Milton by focusing on the self-annihilation of the reader. Several critics have noted the emphasis that Jerusalem places on the reader and on his or her experience of reading the poem. Morris Eaves notes that the opening preface “To the Public” “immediately asserts an intimate personal relationship” between writer and reader and that one of the poem’s aims is “to reunite the artist and the work with the audience of art” (187). In a similar discussion, Roger R. Easson, who characterizes the relationship between Los and Albion as one of author and reader, claims that Albion represents the reader whose “intellectual forces” “fall from perfect communication” and “collapse into a state of frustrated non-communication” (321). Los, as author, reacts “to the fall of Reader/Albion by fathering a system of allegorical dissimulation and obscurity” that, by its very obscurity, brings readers into the creative process by requiring them to interpret and to reinvent the system for themselves, thereby delivering “individuals from systems” (Easson 321). Molly Anne Rothenberg describes the illustration on plate 97 as a “scene of reading” since a figure, possibly Albion, stands in the foreground with his back to the reader and looks upward toward the text that occupies the upper third of the plate (92).


Creative Process Reasoning Power Muse Figure Previous Utterance Holy Ghost 
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© John H. Jones 2010

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