Ten Blakean novels

Rather than simply novels where Blake’s influence informs such things as style (Joyce’s Ulysses is a good example) this is a list of novels (in no particular order) where Blake also informs content in some way.

  1. Angela Carter, Passion of the New Eve (1977): an English professor Evelyn is taken to Beulah where Mother changes him to Eve to prove that without contrarieties is no true progression.
  2. Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (1988): The Marriage of Heaven and Hell provides one of the sources for the struggle between Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha.
  3. J. G. Ballard, The Unlimited Dream Company (1979): a sociopath, Blake, crash lands a stolen plane in the suburbs of Shepperton in this retelling of the epic poem, Milton.
  4. Michael Dibdin, Dark Spectre (1995): a series of motiveless murders are being conducted by a cult devoted to the poetry of Blake.
  5. Alan Moore, From Hell (1999): the graphic novel collected into one edition uses Blake as a spiritual counterpoint to the demonic murders of Jack the Ripper
  6. Joyce Cary, The Horse’s Mouth (1944): constant references to Blake in this very funny novel about a creative artist addicted to drunken self-destruction.
  7. Iain Sinclair, Downriver (1991): should really be the poems, but Blake is pretty much a constant in all of Sinclair’s work, including this collection of psychogeographic explorations into Thatcherite London.
  8. Thomas Harris, Red Dragon (1981): in the first of the Hannibal Lecter series, a serial killer Dolarhyde wishes to transform himself into Blake’s red dragon.
  9. Tracy Chevalier, Burning Bright (2007): a biographical novel of Blake’s life told from the perspective of a young boy, Jem Kellaway.
  10. Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials trilogy (1995-2000): rewriting Milton is perhaps the strongest element of this series, but Blake serves as Virgil to Pullman’s Dante.