Narrative Unbound is the first full-scale interpretation of the verbal text of Blake’s most complex long poetic prophecy, “The Four Zoas.” Never engraved or published in the poet/artist’s lifetime, the poem remains in a single manuscript, apparently unfinished and heavily revised, yet widely celebrated as one of Blake’s most powerful narrative works. Ault challenges the view that the poem is intrinsically incomplete and flawed, arguing instead that the famous difficulties of the text are aspects of Blake’s transformative narrative strategies. By respecting the integrity of Blake’s work, taking every written mark on the page as potentially functional, Ault shows how the intricate interweaving of narrative patterns and interruptions are instrumental to conscious reading. The poetic intent is nothing less than a complete renovation of the reading experience, the potential of which is the realization of what Blake has called “Four-fold vision.” Ault’s approach serves as a guide both to reading “The Four Zoas” and to participating in a radical poetic method. Narrative Unbound engages in the inquiry of contemporary poetics: how is it that altered processes of reading can restructure consciousness?
“This book will be a great delight—and help - to anyone deep in Blake studies; a comfort and aid to the beginning scholar.”-David V. Erdman, author of Blake: Prophet Against Empire and editor of The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake
“Donald Ault is probably the most innovative Blake critic in the country.” – Jerome J. McGann, author of The Romantic Ideology
“Ault’s marginal glosses and illuminating diagrams evoke a sense of respect for dedication to the book as artifact…the book…is a powerful picture of reading.” – Nelson Hilton, author of Literal Imagination: Blake’s Vision of Words