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Vol. 46 no. 1: Summer 2012

Sarah Haggarty, Blake’s Gifts: Poetry and the Politics of Exchange

  • Grant F. Scott
25 June 2012
03 Jul. 2012


This book is more about the social function of Blake’s art in a number of physical and personal economies than it is about the art itself. Haggarty examines the idea of the gift as well as related ideas about spiritual exchange in selected passages from a few poems—mostly Jerusalem and Milton—but the predominant focus remains the social network of Blake’s friends and patrons and the larger cultural matrix that governed the etiquette of giving in the eighteenth century. As such the primary texts are Blake’s letters, annotations, and Descriptive Catalogue. The secondary texts are myriad, though Bourdieu, Derrida, and Marcel Mauss frame the most significant discussions and Mee and Makdisi plug the interstices. In addition, a teeming hive of contemporary characters like Duff and Hayley, Reynolds and Robinson swarm these pages and at times push Blake to the margins.