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Blake's London: the topographic sublime by…

Blake's London: the topographic sublime (2011)

by Iain Sinclair

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This is a short lecture delivered by Iain Sinclair at the Swedenborg Institute, and the revised transcript is followed by a brief Q&A. As often is the case with Sinclair, you can say he is "all over the place", or, more appropriately, given the topic of the lecture, "all over the map": the map of London that is. At issue is not so much Blake's London, although its remnants are mentioned here and there, but a reading of today's London, versus the 1960s' London, versus Blake's and Clare's London, through the prism of Blake's poetry. Although this is really is just a short talk (forty small pages with generous margins), and not nearly enough space to explore anything at depth, Sinclair does a good job of producing a number of thought-provoking analogies (Blake's topography vs Olson's topography in the Maximus Poems), and illuminates the importance of place names in Blake. He finds in Blake's Jerusalem "a particular kind of walk, and quite an eccentric journey laid out, a trajectory which is both spiritual and physical ... Blake's lines spike the energy points, the place names, and make London into a stropped body. ... [W]hat was the presence of the eastern city? Well, Blake seems to suggest that it was a figure, a sleeping giant. He imagined a figure of inward, an inward being. This self-forged daemon belonged, I felt, to the ground of London." ( )
  aileverte | Jul 30, 2014 |
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What was William Blake’s relation with London? And how did this relation shape his poetic visions? In this small and specially-designed volume, Iain Sinclair takes the reader on a discursive journey through BLAKE’S LONDON showing how, in Blake’s vast and rich poetry, language and imagination conjoin to delineate a profound engagement with place. First delivered as a lecture at Swedenborg Hall on Friday 2nd Nov, 2007, this revised text is the perfect introduction to Blake’s singular experience of the city, his relation to Swedenborg, and to a visionary tradition of poets from John Clare to Allen Ginsberg.

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