HAMANN, BLAKE & THE MORAVIANS
Anglo-German connections in Hamann, Blake & the Moravians
A lecture with Alexander Regier (Rice University)
28 April 2015, King’s College London, VB3.01, Virginia Woolf Building, 12.45-14.00
This paper is on the historical, textual, and conceptual relations between Johann Georg Hamann, William Blake, and the Moravian congregation in London around 1750-60. The significant connections between them form part of a wider Anglo-German cluster of exchange during the Enlightenment that has not been uncovered before. Hamann connects with the Moravians during his visit in London in 1758 (also the year of Blake’s birth). Recent work on Blake has established that his mother was an active member of the congregation. My discussion analyses these layers and their connection with Hamann’s London writings, as well as Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. In my readings I pay special attention to the Moravian’s insistence on the value of the “ordinary”, as well as to their actively multilingual Anglo-German background and practices. I conclude that through such a comparative and multi-lingual approach we can see how Blake’s and Hamann’s formative engagement with the Moravians is an important part of their overall work and their position as central eighteenth-century authors.
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