Locke and Blake: A Conversation Across the Eighteenth Century

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9780813015705: Locke and Blake: A Conversation Across the Eighteenth Century

"Although this book looks back mainly to Blake (after all, Locke could not have read Blake) it also looks past Blake to discover a Locke not given much shrift by Blake scholars. It does this in a constantly interesting sinuous juxtaposition of Blake’s and Locke’s views on a variety of subjects, some wonderfully unexpected. Glausser’s grasp of his material is impressive, and he writes with admirable clarity. . . . A deft blending of historical, biographical, and interpretive scholarship."—Hazard Adams, Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor of Humanities, University of Washington

Locke and Blake is a composite critical biography of two giants of 18th-century culture. Organized by topics of cultural significance for the period, it weaves together two lives, focusing on critical topics as opposed to biographical details, in order to illuminate ideas of Locke and Blake and the cultural contexts and transformations of the "period" they shared. 

 Glausser begins each chapter by sketching a biographical connection between the two men, which in turn leads to a broader discussion of textual as well as cultural significance. From their shared experience of having had paintings stolen by a friend, for instance, Glausser details the two men’s angry responses and then explores the larger social issue of private property at each end of the 18th century. Other points of correspondence include mothers and lovers, charges of sedition, medicine and the body, slavery, and printing.

 Glausser’s new approach to the lives and ideas of Locke and Blake offers a more balanced treatment of their relationship than has been available in the past. Through this juxtaposition and rethinking of the two traditional "antagonists" of the period, he moves beyond adversarial caricatures of temperament, faculty, ideology, and intention and illuminates both the century and the two intellectual giants who stood at either end of it.

Wayne Glausser is professor of English at DePauw University and author of articles on Locke and Blake as well as various topics in recent American fiction and popular culture.

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