Global Blake: Alcinda Pinheiro de Sousa

Alcinda Pinheiro de Sousa explores how readings by Donald Ault of The Four Zoas can help us read Brazilian comic books.

In 1974, Ault published Visionary Physics: Blake’s Response to Newton, a cause of perplexity to the community of Blake scholars. The following year, David Erdman did actually declare about Visionary Physics: ‘Once again a painstaking investigation of some difficult aspect of Blake's work and of his thought rescues us from the temptation to assume that whatever is not clear to our minds was woolly nonsense in Blake's’ (Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly, 8.4, my emphases). And in 1977, David Wagenknecht regarded it as: ‘[...] a remarkable, perhaps excessively remarkable book [...]’ (Modern Philology, 74.4, my emphasis). In 1987, Ault published Narrative Unbound: Re-Visioning William Blake’s ‘The Four Zoas’, his second, and particularly ingenious work on Blake, considered by Andrew Lincoln: ‘[...] the most impressive study of The Four Zoas, Donald Ault’s formidable Narrative Unbound [...]’. (Spiritual History: A Reading of William Blake's Vala, Or The Four Zoas, 1995, my emphases). Although recognising the centrality of the verbal|visual interaction in The Four Zoas, Ault decided (for methodological reasons and because his was already a lengthy study) to exclude such a question from the investigation. Nevertheless, A Postscript on The Four Zoas as Visual Text was added to the book and, in a note to the Preliminary Remarks, he explained: ‘[...] I have been working for several years with the relations existing between verbal and visual dimensions in very different media, especially animated cartoons, comic strips, and comic books. Some of my essays on verbal/visual relations in Carl Barks’ Donald Duck comic book stories [...] may eventually be applied to Blake as well [...]’. Once again, I come upon Ault’s research, now considered a ‘pioneer of popular culture scholarship’ (Brendan Riley, “Textual Criticism of Popular Culture”, A Companion to Popular Culture, 2016). Thus, from the vantage point of a dynamic interface of Blake Studies with Reception, Visual Culture and Popular Culture Studies, I will observe Enéias Tavares and Fred Rubim’s O Matrimônio de Céu & Inferno, a Brazilian graphic novel published in 2019.

Alcinda Pinheiro de Sousa, a Doctor of English Literature awarded by Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Lisboa – with the thesis titled As the Eye - Such the Object”: Da Arte e da Ciência em (On Art and Science in) William Blake – is currently leading the University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies research project Receiving|Perceiving English Literature in the Digital Age. She has taught, researched and published in the fields of literary and visual culture studies. Recently, Pinheiro de Sousa co- authored ‘“Enough! or Too much”: The Reception of Blake in Portugal’, a chapter of The Reception of William Blake in Europe, eds. Morton D. Paley and Sibylle Erle (Bloomsbury; 2019), and “Portuguese Readings of William Blake: Fernando Pessoa, a National Poet, and Três Tristes Tigres, a Pop-Rock Band” for the special issue on Blake’s reception to be published by Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly.