In this article I discuss Powys and Blake with respect to a series of
salient features of their published writings (and paintings in the case
of Blake). The fact that I consider Blake a Gnostic, and the philosophy
underpinning Gnosticism as the key to understanding his sense and
meaning, consequently entails me bringing the same perspective to
Powys in comparing their respective works.1 But, I begin by looking
at what Powys himself wrote about Blake. Actually, there are various
en passant references made by Powys to Blake, but the most extended
discussion comes from a 1916 essay.2 I use this source to address the
‘tensions’ they both shared to a lesser or greater extent. I then consider
what creativity meant for them; in terms of the relationship between a
human mind and its surroundings. In particular, I am interested in ‘the
self ’ and ‘the other’, whether that latter be material, living or imaginary – or perhaps all three. It is on this basis that I consider the main tenets
of Gnosticism (see below) to be a way of illuminating a series of features
that might be found in Powys’ and Blake’s respective works. I offer some
brief allusion to the history of Gnosticism and its defining elements in
order to support the discussion. I explore Blake, Powys and Gnosticism
in terms of the themes of Nature, (sexual) Union, Images, and Memory.
There are elements of comparison and contrast in this undertaking.
All these tease out the nature of the relationships Blake and Powys
held with respect to creativity, self, and indeed the source of narratives
expressed in their work. I conclude by suggesting that although Blake
and Powys shared similar problematics, their final respective resting
places were significantly distinct.