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BOOK REVIEWS 351 Image is absolutely foundational to Blake's vision. Here Rix may be at his best, and the proportions most perfect, for this reader, anyway,as Rix balances his interest in Swedenborg and Blake, in the poetry, its production, circulation, and reception. Rix devotes an entire chapter, chapter 7, to Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which makes perfect sense, given the fact that it is an early work, often read as Blake's Principia, where more than anywhere else he confronts Swedenborg as a failed prophet who lapsed into what Blake called priestcraft. Rix's reading shows how Blake uses Swedenborgian terms even as he subverts Swedenborg's message, taking him to task for being "an enemy to antinomian liberty" (123). Rix's great command of Swedenborg and theosophical literature generally allows him to see connections and parodic moves on Blake's part that most reader would miss. He also makes a good case that Blake's quarrel is as much with Swedenborgians and the New Jerusalem Church as with Swedenborg himself, who would recur in later works as often a sympathetic, even heroic character. This reviewer began to lose interest a bit in the last chapter that dealt with "the Visionary Marketplace" and such cultural phenomena as animal magnetism. The connections to Swedenborgian interests in psychic health, and further, to Blake, seems valid if a bit of a strain. Even so, this is a fine book, carefully and thoroughly researched, lucidly written, and most welcoming to anyone interested in William Blakeand/or the theosophical tradition oflate eighteenth-century England. William Blake will forever frustrate our efforts to put him in context, even as he and his work challenges us to do so. Hats off to Robert Rix, who has tangled him up with the Swedenborgians as well as anyone could. John Ruff Valparaiso University Desiring Donne: Poetry, Sexuality, Interpretation. By Ben Saunders. Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-674-02347-5. Pp. xii + 248. $35.00. John Donne, Body and Soul. ByRamie Targoff.Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2008. ISBN 0-226-78963-7. Pp. xii + 208. $29.00. These two recent books are disappointing because they provide little insight or information about John Donne. Both authors neglect the work of the poet and preacher for idiosyncratic interests of their own, which reflect the preoccupations of twenty-first century academics rather than the significance of Donne's works. Instead, they exemplify in their different waysthe result ofbinding the interpretation of an early modern writer to the institutional protocols of the postmodern university. 352 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE Ben Saunders is candidly explicit about the peculiarities of his procedure, which seeks "to shed light not only on the specific nature of Donnean desire, but also on the role played by readerly desire within interpretive practice" (2). Reading Donne thus becomes, not a means of opening our minds and imaginations to the wider world provided by his poetic vision, but rather of burrowing more deeply into our intimate longings and fantasies: For if the text does not speak for itself, it follows that at some level we must make it speak for us, of our desires, and not only of our desires as individuals but also the collective desires that percolate and bubble within the osmotic boundaries of interpretive communities, desires that we sometimes call "ideological:' (4) Saunders expressly questions the "commonsense opposition" between reason and desire (6), but avoids confronting complex opposing visions like the Symposium. In fact, Plato merits only one offhand mention-the same number as Elvis Presley and Muddy Waters, and considerably fewer than Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. The view that reason is the servant of desire rather than its master thus reigns unchallenged. Saunders spends most of the thirty-seven pages of this opening chapter justifying his decision to write a book about a poet whom most recent "professional readers" regard as "a morbid and misogynistic solipsist, a political opportunist, and a theological conservative" (26). Saunders finally deals with this problem not by showing that this jaundiced view of the poet is incomplete, much less wrong, but rather by declining to take it seriously. "How...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 351-357
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-14
Open Access
No
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