|Library of Congress|
section of Plate 21
Europe, Copy E
Bronowski states on page 86:
"It is not enough to think of Blake's prophetic books without Blake. Neither is it enough to think of them without Blake's world. That world was wider than its censorship. But it was a world of censorship. It was a world of the acts against Seditious Writings, against Seditious Meetings, against Seditious Societies, against Treasonable Practices. It was the world of prosecutions for blasphemy, and the laws against cheap newspapers. It was the world of the Militia Bills and of the Combination Laws. It was Pitt's world. That world did not make Blake but it baffled him, and it cowed him. Blake remained free all his life. But he was once tried for sedition."
Is it any wonder that Blake wrote Europe in such a way that it would not be easily understood if it fell into the hands of the censors where it may land him behind bars?
Europe, Plate 12, (E 64) "Every house a den, every man bound; the shadows are filld With spectres, and the windows wove over with curses of iron: Over the doors Thou shalt not; & over the chimneys Fear is written: With bands of iron round their necks fasten'd into the walls The citizens: in leaden gyves the inhabitants of suburbs"
Here is an oversimplified analysis of the complex book which is Blake's Europe:
Framework - Christian centuries
Setting - Revolutionary times
Characters - Enitharmon
Action - Sleep & awakening
Purpose - Change of perspective
Influences - Prophetic milieu
Transition to influence of Newton
Tensions between male and female dominance.