By D. Rainsford
Dominic Rainsford examines ways that literary texts could seem to touch upon their authors' moral prestige. Its argument develops via readings of Blake, Dickens, and Joyce, 3 authors who locate specially bright methods of casting doubt all alone ethical authority, even as they divulge wider social ills. The ebook combines its curiosity in ethics with post-structuralist scepticism, and therefore develops a kind of radical humanism with functions a ways past the 3 authors instantly mentioned.
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Extra resources for Authorship, Ethics, and the Reader: Blake, Dickens, Joyce
22, 31; E, 276-7) This is an attack on the biological realities of the human condition, the facts of life, as much as on Tiriel's offspring. Despite the sweeping nature of his vision, Tiriel is monstrously egotistical, a kind of anti-Job, clinging to his dying wife, denying his children's interest in her or in him, and wishing to retain his faded dominion by destroying his heirs. 2; E, 277), whereas, really, it is his eyes that are the useless globes. 4; E, 277), which suggests the intervention of Providence, but, given the sense of doom throughout the poem, it might just as well be Nemesis.
23; E, 285) This could be Milton's Satan, or Blake's admiring reinterpretation of that figure, railing against a God who has mismanaged creation, making goodness impossible. It depicts an Eden in which Man is forced to be the evil creature that supposedly tempts him. 5; E, 278, 279). 17; E, 276). Thus, within the world of the poem, God seems little more than a tale told by idiots. It is true that Tiriel can be read as a false prophet, to be contrasted with individuals both in the Bible and in Blake's later writing who are represented as being genuinely in touch with God,38 but his nihilism and implicit atheism have intellectual weight, and there seems to be nothing in his world to contradict them.
Support for this view is found in the second sentence, which ends: 'you would think you was among your friends' (E, 449). Many critics assert that Blake is represented by Quid,19 but the evidence for this is weak, consisting chiefly of the final severed fragment in which one character, who is not named, talks about a revolutionary printing method and about being isolated and envied in society. These are characteristic Blakean themes, occurring as much in the letters as in explicitly imaginative writings, and it is certainly possible to read the speech as a commentary upon Blake himself.