Brahma in the West

William Blake and the Oriental Renaissance

By David Weir

Subjects: India And South Asian Studies
Paperback : 9780791458181, 184 pages, August 2003
Hardcover : 9780791458174, 184 pages, August 2003

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Table of contents

List of Figures




1. Politics

2. Mythography

3. Theology


Appendix A. Mythographic Material from Joseph Priestley

Appendix B. Synopsis of The Four Zoas


Selected Bibliography


Argues that the myths and ideals of William Blake's poetry were heavily influenced by the Oriental Renaissance—the British discovery of Hindu literature.


Examining William Blake's poetry in relation to the mythographic tradition of the eighteenth century and emphasizing the British discovery of Hindu literature, David Weir argues that Blake's mythic system springs from the same rich historical context that produced the Oriental Renaissance. That context includes republican politics and dissenting theology—two interrelated developments that help elucidate many of the obscurities of Blake's poetry and explain much of its intellectual energy. Weir shows how Blake's poetic career underwent a profound development as a result of his exposure to Hindu mythology. By combining mythographic insight with republican politics and Protestant dissent, Blake devised a poetic system that opposed the powers of Church and King.

David Weir is Associate Professor on the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He is the author of Anarchy and Culture: The Aesthetic Politics of Modernism; James Joyce and the Art of Mediation; and Decadence and the Making of Modernism.