Speech Acts in Blake’s Milton  book cover
1st Edition

Speech Acts in Blake’s Milton

ISBN 9781032379180
Published November 16, 2022 by Routledge
136 Pages

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USD $59.95

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Book Description

Using a framework based on J. L. Austin’s understanding of performative speech and Angela Esterhammer’s work on how things are done with words in Milton’s and Blake’s poetry, this study provides an extended close reading of the speech acts of characters in Blake’s epic poem Milton. With the exception of what we learn about in the part of the poem known as the Bard’s Song, Blake’s Milton is dedicated to providing an incredibly detailed account of the numerous facets of the instant of time immediately prior to apocalypse, an instant in which Milton is the protagonist, and Blake himself a participant. This study explores how in the poem sacred history proceeds towards and through the instant by means of the speech act. This extended commentary is intended for not just Blake scholars but also the common reader who wishes to approach Blake’s brief epic for the first time. For scholars, this monograph offers a full account of a crucial but previously unexplored theme in the scholarship about Milton. For the common reader, it offers a comprehensive introduction to what Northrop Frye called ‘one of the most gigantic imaginative achievements in English poetry’.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: The Bard’s Song I: From the Beginning Until The Creation of Fallen Space

Chapter 2: The Bard’s Song II: The Creation of Fallen Time and Death, and Milton’s Response to the Song

Chapter 3: ‘the forward path / Of Milton’s journey’ and the Opponents of His Progress

Chapter 4: Opposition to Milton in Golgonooza and Los’s Defence of the ‘Shadow Terrible’

Chapter 5: The Descent of Ololon

Chapter 6: The Redemption of the Contraries

Chapter 7: Coda: Milton as Speech Act



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Brian Russell Graham is a two-time graduate of the University of Glasgow, where he completed an M.A. (Hons.) and PhD in English Literature. He is currently a lecturer at the University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen Business School. His first monograph, The Necessary Unity of Opposites, published in 2011, is a study of Northrop Frye, particularly Frye’s dialectical thinking. His second monograph, On a Common Culture, was published in 2022.