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Vol. 55 no. 4: Spring 2022

Linda Freedman, William Blake and the Myth of America: From the Abolitionists to the Counterculture

  • Luke Walker
3 March 2022
27 Apr. 2022


We seem to be living in a golden age of scholarship on Blake’s reception, and Linda Freedman’s William Blake and the Myth of America is a welcome addition to this critical canon. As Freedman notes, the recent scholarly antecedents of her study include the collections Blake 2.0: William Blake in Twentieth-Century Art, Music and Culture (ed. Steve Clark, Tristanne Connolly, and Jason Whittaker, 2012), Blake, Modernity and Popular Culture (ed. Clark and Whittaker, 2007), and The Reception of Blake in the Orient (ed. Clark and Masashi Suzuki, 2006), as well as Colin Trodd’s monograph Visions of Blake: William Blake in the Art World, 1830–1930 (2012) and Edward Larrissy’s Blake and Modern Literature (2006). Freedman’s book, which benefits from sixteen color illustrations embedded throughout the text, also follows hot on the heels of the even more lavishly illustrated William Blake and the Age of Aquarius (ed. Stephen F. Eisenman, 2017). Yet, as she acknowledges, the contents of William Blake and the Myth of America connect it more specifically to William Blake and the Moderns, the 1982 collection edited by Robert J. Bertholf and Annette S. Levitt, which prepared the ground for the current crop of Blakean reception studies; figures from that book who reappear in Freedman’s monograph include Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, T. S. Eliot, Theodore Roethke, Robert Duncan, and Allen Ginsberg.