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Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  59 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
Witness Against the Beast is a groundbreaking interdisciplinary study in which the renowned social historian E.P. Thompson contends that most of the assumptions scholars have made about William Blake are misleading and unfounded. Brilliantly reexamining Blake’s cultural milieu and intellectual background, Thompson detects in Blake’s poetry a repeated call to resist the usu ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by The New Press (first published August 1st 1993)
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Paul
Aug 09, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: radical-dissent
E P Thompson is one of my favourite historians and this was his last book. It is an analysis of the poet William Blake. Thompson looks at the origins of his thought and attempts a different approach to most academic studies of Blake. Thompson believes that the roots of Blake’s thought can be found in the seventeenth century radicalism that flourished in the Civil War period in England. The book is in two parts; the first looks at the backdrop to the radical ideas of the time Blake lived and thei ...more
Mel
This was fascinating. I bought it because I really like Thompson's books and think he's a really good historian and I really like Blake. However, it ended up being much less about Blake and much more about obscure 18th century Christian sects. I found that interesting though as I was raised in a very evangelical church where we were told their belief system was "as the original church founded by the apostles". So it was intriguing to read where their ideas had actually come from only a few centu ...more
Casper Denck
Cross posted at http://nicodemist.wordpress.com/2010/...

This was Thompson’s last published work completed shortly before his death; how representative it is of his wider work I don’t know (I have a recollection of having read is Making of the English Working Classes a few years back but can’t be sure).

I did not purchase the book for it’s main thesis, that of offering a reading of William Blake’s dissenting thought but the work on muggletonianism and antinomianism that Thompson researched as a pl
...more
Sarah Key
Oct 05, 2014 Sarah Key rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I purchased E.P. Thompson's book for a project I am currently working on regarding William Blake. Contextually, the book certainly has a distinct advantage, but I did have a hard time following some of Thompson's logic and theories.

Occasionally, he mentions an ongoing or age old debate in reference to Blake and never chooses he a side which ultimately left me wondering what the purpose was of the inclusion at all. The argument is displayed briefly, then dismissed. Was it included for Thompson to
...more
James
Nov 30, 2008 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Blake scholars.
One of Thompson's last studies is a useful contribution to Blake scholarship which presents the most convincing case possible for William and Catherine's association with the Muggletonians -- all the while reminding us of the paucity of evidence supporting this thesis. Good work by a good historian at work.
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Edward Palmer Thompson was a British historian, writer, socialist and peace campaigner. He is probably best known today for his historical work on the British radical movements in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, in particular The Making of the English Working Class (1963). He also published influential biographies of William Morris (1955) and (posthumously) William Blake (1993) and was a p ...more
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