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Spiritual HistoryA Reading of William Blake's Vala or The Four Zoas$
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Andrew Lincoln

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198183143

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198183143.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Spiritual History

Andrew Lincoln

Oxford University Press

William Blake's The Four Zoas is a universal history which integrates and attempts to harmonize different approaches in history. While the poem aligns itself with a Christian tradition that places human experience within a providential framework, the poem is also influenced by the Enlightenment tradition which yearns to free and liberate history from the providential framework. The poem's universal perspective suggests the identity of diverse cultures as well as growing contemporary interest in national traditions. These different perspectives in the poem suggest that Blake on occasions had changed his mind about his poem or these diverse perspectives can be presumed as stages in an intelligible process of development and renunciation of the Enlightenment assumptions. This chapter looks into Blake's relationship with these assumptions to pinpoint and identify the issues and factors that have shaped and re-shaped The Four Zoas.

Keywords:   William Blake, The Four Zoas, Enlightenment, Christian tradition, poem

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