Author(s): Mike Marqusee
Furiously annotating a pamphlet attacking Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, William Blake challenged Thomas Paine s dismissal of miracles. Is it a greater miracle to feed five thousand men with five loaves than to overthrow all the armies of Europe with a small pamphlet? How could Paine the worker of miracles doubt their existence? As this anecdote illustrates, it is all too easy to organize our thinking about the high Enlightenment in ways that place Paine and Blake in stark opposition: Paine the debunker of Biblical fictions; Blake the ecstatic interlocutor of angels. Despite their differences, there was a profound level of sympathy between the two men. In a work that reveals their radical affinities, Marqusee shows how their writing, read together and in opposition, can enliven our understanding of war, revolution and those moments in which the horizon of the possible expands epiphanies that were, for Blake, true miracles.
Both in the eloquence of his writing and the deep humanism of his vision, he stands shoulder to shoulder with the spirits of Isaac Deutscher and Edward Said. --Mike Davis
Mike Marqusee`s books include Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the 1960s, Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties, War Minus the Shooting, Anyone but England and If I Am Not for Myself. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian and writes a fortnightly column for the Indian newspaper The Hindu. He lives in London.