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Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake
is a 1947 book by Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye
Herman Northrop Frye, was a Canadian literary critic and literary theorist, considered one of the most influential of the 20th century....
whose subject is the work of English
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...
poet and visual artist William Blake
William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age...
. The book has been hailed as one of the most important contributions to the study of William Blake and one of the very first that embarked on the interpretation of many of Blake's most obscure works. As Frye himself acknowledges, Blake's work is not to be deciphered but interpreted and seen within its specific historical and social contexts.
In his preface of the 1969 edition, Frye writes:
"I wrote Fearful Symmetry during the Second World War, and hideous as the time was, it provided some parallels with Blake's time which were useful for understanding Blake's attitude to the world. Today, now that reactionary
The term reactionary refers to viewpoints that seek to return to a previous state in a society. The term is meant to describe one end of a political spectrum whose opposite pole is "radical". While it has not been generally considered a term of praise it has been adopted as a self-description by...
The term political radicalism denotes political principles focused on altering social structures through revolutionary means and changing value systems in fundamental ways...
forces alike are once more in the grip of the nihilistic
Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value...
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...
that Blake described so powerful in Jerusalem
"And did those feet in ancient time" is a short poem by William Blake from the preface to his epic Milton a Poem, one of a collection of writings known as the Prophetic Books. The date on the title page of 1804 for Milton is probably when the plates were begun, but the poem was printed c. 1808...
, one of the most hopeful signs is the immensely increased sense of the urgency and immediacy of what Blake had to say".
- Fearful Symmetry at Google Books
- Fearful Symmetry at the Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...