David E. James. "Blake's Laocoon: A Degree Zero of Literary Production".
PMLA 98 (1983): 226ñ36.
|IN THIS ARTICLE David James
argues that Blake's engraving of Laocoon constitutes a protest against
the commodification of art. It reattributes the subject (from Laocoon and
his sons, all classical figures, to the Hebraic figures Jah, Satan and
Adam), and it parallels a commercial paradigm by propogating evil in the
form of war, both intra-textually and in the relationship of image and
text. The engraving "allowed for a the peculiar combination of text and
illustration, including an ambiguous and often contradictory relation between
the two that frequently generates meanings of which neither would be capable
James asserts that "[t]he plate evidences to an
extreme degree the formal effects of Blake's mature practices of emphasizing
the spatial and graphic qualitites of his text and of combining text and
illustration in such a way that the plate becomes a unit of composition."
James makes the visual discourse the master of the text.
In closing James calls Blake's Laocoon "a characteristic
polemic against allegory" (239). (Joan Menefee.)
Return to Text and Image: Selected Annotated
Return to home page
Department of English, University of Minnesota
Comments to: email@example.com
Created 24 November 1997
Revised 23 December 1997