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To Lord Byron in the Wilderness: Blake, Byron, & the myth of Cain & Abel

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The Art Workers' Guild

6 Queen Square

London

WC1N 3AT

United Kingdom

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Blake’s response to Byron, how he recognised in the younger writer a poetic rebellion against what Blake identified as the Moral Law.

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Following its publication in 1821, Byron’s Cain was subject to a series of scathing attacks from those, such as Francis Jeffrey, who wrote in the Edinburgh Review that it was a scandalous attack on piety. Yet, despite (or perhaps because of) the role of Lucifer in the play as well as Byron’s association with a so-called Satanic school, one Christian writer who was not perplexed by Byron’s blasphemous work was the artist William Blake.

In 1822, Blake wrote a response to Byron’s play, a short one-act drama entitled The Ghost of Abel in which he compared the more famous poet to Elijah and sought to offer a correction not to Byron’s purported Satanism but rather his proto-Calvinism. This paper will explore the contexts for Blake’s response to Byron, how he recognised in the younger writer a poetic rebellion against what Blake identified as the Moral Law without a corresponding understanding of a fundamentally humanistic Everlasting Gospel.

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The Art Workers' Guild

6 Queen Square

London

WC1N 3AT

United Kingdom

View Map

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Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

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