Apocalyptic nightmares that humanly-created intelligences will one day rise up against their creators haunt the western creative imagination. However, these narratives find their initial expression not in the widely disseminated Frankenstein story but in William Blake's early mythological works. This book looks at why we persistently fear our own creations by examining Blake's illuminated books of the 1790s through the lens of Kierkegaard's theories of personality and of anxiety. It offers a close examination of Kierkegaard's and Blake's similar, and to an extent shared, historical milieux as residents of Denmark's and England's political and economic centers. Each author's residence in a major urban center motivated them to develop a concept of innocence closely identified with the pastoral, and to place their respective and similar concepts of innocence within a larger developmental scheme encompassing an ethical and then a religious consciousness.
Rovira identifies contemporary tensions between monarchy and democracy, science and religion, and nature and artifice as the source both of Kierkegaard's concept of anxiety and Blake's representation of creation anxiety in his early illuminated books.
James Rovira is Assistant Professor of English at Tiffin University, Ohio, USA.