When one looks for artists from the past who exert a strong influence in the modern and contemporary periods, William Blake comes nearly as high up on the list as Shakespeare. To Yeats he was the prophet of a new age and a new kind of art, to Joyce one of the greatest poets since the Renaissance, to Auden a revolutionary thinker who stood alongside Marx, Freud and Lawrence. Even Eliot is more indebted than he admits. His influence extends into the postmodern, where he is still treated as a sage in an uncertain world, partly because his wisdom appears to have been gained in a struggle with authority, partly because of his ambivalent fascination with myth: does it imprison us in received ideologies, or can it be re-created in liberating form? This is a question which confronts writers as diverse as Ginsberg, Angela Carter, Rushdie and Iain Sinclair. This new book, the first full-length study of Blake's influence on twentieth-century literature, will be fascinating reading to students and scholars of Blake and Romanticism, as well as Contemporary Literature.

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