William Blake, The Four Zoas

David Punter (University of Bristol)
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Vala, or, The Four Zoas is the name now conventionally ascribed to a long “epic” poem that Blake was engaged on writing between approximately 1795 and 1804. Divided into nine “Nights”, it never achieved final form; what we have is the manuscript record of an attempt to write a history of the world, cast in terms of Blake's unique mythology and constantly overwritten with changes, emendations, narrative excursions. Night Seven appears in two quite distinct forms; and even the ordering of pages is subject to critical doubt.

To begin to understand it requires a preliminary knowledge of the myth it represents. In this myth, the primal man Albion – a figure for man before the Fall, but also for England in a state …

609 words

Citation: Punter, David. "The Four Zoas". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 July 2001 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=809, accessed 04 June 2023.]

809 The Four Zoas 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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