Witness against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law by E P Thompson - review by Sylvia Clayton

Sylvia Clayton

Blake’s Progress

Witness against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law

By

Cambridge University Press 280pp £17.95 order from our bookshop
 

Lecturing in New York in 1968 the historian E P Thompson defined himself as a Muggletonian Marxist. In later years he was to admit that his allegiance to both Muggleton and Marx was less than wholehearted, but it is primarily as a Muggletonian that he has written this his final book – Thompson died in August 1993 after a long illness – a brilliantly illuminating exploration of some of the forces that shaped the imagination of William Blake.

It is a pity that 'Muggletonian' sounds such a ridiculous word. Early in Pickwick Papers Dickens chooses the name of Muggleton for the town where Mr Pickwick watches a cricket match, a town that is pompous, provincial and wholly bent on commercial gain. The original Muggletonians were not like that

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter