By Helen P. Bruder

ISBN-10: 0230379575

ISBN-13: 9780230379572

ISBN-10: 1349395293

ISBN-13: 9781349395293

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There is also one other group of feminist writers who have taken a comparatist tack and these critics have found it valuable to compare Blake's attitudes to women with those of the other Romantic poets. Diana Long Hoeveler has produced the fullest account in her Romantic Androgyny: Tile Woman Within (1990) and her conclusions are much the same as most of these writers who, Blake Studies: A Critical Survey 27 like Meena Alexander, feel that 'Blake, of all the English Romantic poets best portrays female desire.

G. 9 It is only in such incongruously gender-blind readings that Thel finds any support. When critics accept her identity as a young woman didacticism is still the chosen response, with Michael Ferber's recent trenchant attack destined to become a very well-known reworking of the patriarchal orthodoxy. In his Penguin Critical Study (1991) Ferber contends that the poem's moral is that the resisting Thel, with her 'self-regarding [... l0 As the remarks of Gleckner and his heirs intimate, the corpus of criticism forms a kind of dictatorial conduct book of the sort which abounded at the time Thel was written and whose motivations, I will argue, the poem exposes.

4 Once the metaphysicians had been displaced (Peter Ackroyd's comments about Thel's 'trembling young soul' are woefully outdated) and the poem's protagonist was acknowledged to be an inquisitive and slightly truculent young woman5 there was a veritable eruption of works impelled by moral imperatives. The first blast of this particular trumpet was issued by Robert F. Gleckner who, at the end of the 1950s, savaged Thel's behaviour with great ferocity. s If space permitted, it would be fascinating to trace in detail the manifold ways in which critics following him have demanded her repentance.

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William Blake and the Daughters of Albion by Helen P. Bruder


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