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The Dissent Of E.P. Thompson

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Chapter Summary

This chapter begins with Thompson's own condemnation of methodism as psychic terror and political reaction. The problem is that, throughout his analysis, more and more political radicals turn up in the chapels and Bible classes - a long string of methodists end up as Luddites, organisers of the Peterloo protest, among the Chartists and so on. The chapter offers an intimate commentary on Thompson's study of Blake, for the specific purpose of discerning what Thompson's take on theology is by this late stage in his life. The poems were written in response to global political events and Thompson's involvement in the nuclear-disarmament campaign. But the most surprising feature of them is that Thompson gives voice to his own political radicalism through poems that recast nothing less than the birth- and infancy-narratives concerning Jesus. Thompson has realised the radical side of the political ambivalence of Christianity.

Keywords: Christianity; Corrupt parsons; E.P. Thompson; psychic terror; William Blake

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