To Lord Byron in the Wilderness: Blake, Byron, and the myth of Cain and Abel
Byron Society Talk, 18th February
6.30-8.00pm, at the Art Workers Guild, London
£5.00 for Members;
£6.00 for Students;
£7.00 for Non-Members.
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In this talk, Professor Jason Whittaker looks at William Blake’s response to Byron’s Cain.
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.
Art Workers Guild
6 Queen Square
London WC1N 3AT
Drinks at 6.30
There will be a dinner for those who wish to join, details will be confirmed closer to the time.
£5.00 for Members
£6.00 for Students
£7.00 for Non-Members
Image taken from Blake's "Ghost of Abel", held by the Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division