Worlds Apart. The Book of Copper and the Anvil of Death: William Blake’s Gothic Creation Myth


Luna's fifth Call for Papers, Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction is now in pre-order and will be released on Tuesday 27th of July. Here is a chance to discover the 14 brilliant papers you will find in the book in the order they appear.

Today, we would like to introduce you to Claire Burgess, presenting the paper: "The Book of Copper and the Anvil of Death: William Blake’s Gothic Creation Myth"

Abstract:

William Blake, a poet and artist known as a radical, a madman, or a genius, is not often considered to be a mythmaker or a worldbuilder, despite the fact that Blake’s later works – especially his major poems and visual art between “America, A Prophecy” (1793) and “Jerusalem” (1820) – delve deeply into the creation of an imagined fallen universe that mirrors this one but is not precisely our own. Blake’s forged universe is one that is in many ways blacker and more hideous, and ruled by indifferent tyrants that oppress and maim while creating life in the same stroke. Indeed, the dreadful narrative of the primary worldbuilding tool for this universe, i.e. his creation myth, relies upon a classic Gothic thread: a hubristic seeker of arcane and profane knowledge creating something monstrous. “The Book of Copper and the Anvil of Death: William Blake’s Gothic Creation Myth” explores the nature of this knowledge through visual analysis of Blake’s illustrations, then inspects the main players within the creation myth, Urizen and Los, as possessors of this divinely- bestowed, powerful knowledge that Blake also believed himself to have... and which, in true Gothic fashion, springs from the grave. In this manner, this paper will demonstrate that Blake’s engagement with the Gothic genre goes well beyond his predilection for graveyard imagery, and that the substance of William Blake’s creation myth lies upon Gothic bones.

Claire Burgess is a Californian currently living in Rome. She has a B.A. in Art History from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in English Literature from Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, where she wrote her dissertation on Gothic worldbuilding in the art and poetry of William Blake. She is currently the managing editor for an online Classics magazine, though her presiding interests are all things dark and Romantic. She is currently working on a high fantasy novel with elements of both. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found exploring the Italian countryside with her dog, Willow.

Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction

is now in pre-order!

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