Blake, Postmodernity and Postmodernism



The question of Blake and postmodernism may usefully be considered as part of the broader question of Romanticism and postmodernism, which is beginning to become a subject of intellectual debate. A traditional model of the relationship between past and present might be used to support the claim that just as modernism was indebted to Romanticism, so postmodernism is indebted to such features as Romantic irony, the cult of the rootlessly self-fashioning hero and possibly a certain valuing of the incomplete and fragmentary. There are also some more particular questions: the continuing fascination of the Gothic and the theory of Lyotard that both modernism and postmodernism are inheritors of the concept of the sublime (specifically the Kantian sublime), an idea with strong romantic connections.1 All of these possibilities are addressed in my edited volume, Romanticism and Postmodernism (1997), which includes essays touching on Wordsworth, Coleridge and Gothic fiction. It also includes a theoretical essay by Paul Hamilton which traces the ancestry of postmodernist ‘indeterminacy’ back to the concept of the sublime: associating the poetics of the sublime with the fashion for pantheism, Hamilton notes that ‘the monism resulting from pantheism, in which, since you cannot find God “outside” you must find him everywhere, has all sorts of other implications. Fundamentally, it makes all critique immanent. It leads to the equality of particulars’.2


Literary History Chaos Theory Romantic Period Grand Narrative Marxist Criticism 
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© Edward Larrissy 2006

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