Quotation by Martin Bidney

Blake and Goethe were individualists par excellence, uncompromisingly protective of their single vision. In both Faust Part II and The Four Zoas, emphasis on the universality of the poet's message contrasts with the resistant texture of a compressed style and the striking complexity of the mythological machinery. Blake likes to emphasize that he is not writing for the simple-minded; Goethe takes a teasing pleasure in keeping philologists busy. Faust and The Four Zoas are dramatic epics of Humanity, but embodied in a mythic language whose uniqueness and quirkiness are jealously guarded. Blake never published The Four Zoas, though it culminates his early prophecies and provides the indispensable key to the later ones. And Goethe refused to allow Faust Part II to be printed in its entirety until after his death. Both poets postponed the public's discovery of their central works; secrecy was enforced as long as it could be.
Martin Bidney (b. 1943), U.S. critic, educator. Blake and Goethe: Psychology, Ontology, and the Imagination, introduction, University of Missouri Press (1988).
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