“There Is No Pure Evil, Nor Pure Good, Only Purity”: William Blake’s and Patti Smith’s Art as Opposition to Societal Boundaries

Patti Smith’s Blakean influence deviates from the infamous excess that has come to define rock; rather, Smith presents the alternative, individualized responses to Romanticism that illuminate the spirituality present in rock singers. . . This chapter investigates the connections between Smith and Blake and thus hopes to remind readers that female artists should be discussed in as much detail as males have been.

Alicia Carpenter, Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism, p. 103

Alicia Carpenter contributed chapter five of Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism (Routledge, 2022), in which she brings together Patti Smith and William Blake on the basis of their shared upbringing in dissenting traditions — William Blake as a Moravian, Patti Smith as a Jehovah’s Witness — and how their identities as artists helped them both escape their religions of origins but still express their spirituality.

Smith is of course a significant figure in the reception of William Blake in the late twentieth century and in rock. Besides nods to Blake’s influence on her in songs like “My Blakean Year,” Smith has published her own edited collection of Blake’s poems and served as president of the UK Blake Society for a year.

Check out the iTunes playlist for the book.

Alicia Carpenter is a graduate from King’s College, London. Currently, she is the Editor of various independent music fanzines, including Live Circuit and BOLD.

Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism

Women in Rock. Women in Romanticism (Routledge, 2022) is the first book-length work exploring the interrelationships among contemporary women rock musicians and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art and literature, the literature of the Romantic era. LIMITED QUANTITIES ONLY available at a 37% discount.



Published by James Rovira

Dr. James Rovira is higher education professional with twenty years experience in the field in teaching, administration, and advising roles. He is also an interdisciplinary scholar and writer whose works include fiction, poetry, and scholarship exploring the intersections of literature and philosophy, literature and psychology, literary theory, and music and literature.. His books include Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism (Routledge, 2023); David Bowie and Romanticism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022); Writing for College and Beyond (a first-year composition textbook (Lulu 2019)); Reading as Democracy in Crisis: Interpretation, Theory, History (Lexington Books 2019); Rock and Romanticism: Blake, Wordsworth, and Rock from Dylan to U2 (Lexington Books, 2018); Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); and Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2010). See his website at jamesrovira.com for details.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: