William Blake's work presents a stern challenge to historical criticism. Jon Mee's new study meets that challenge by investigating contexts outside the domains of standard literary histories. He traces the distinctive rhetoric of the illuminated books to the French Revolution controversy of the 1790s and Blake's fusion of the diverse currents of radicalism abroad in that decade. Dangerous Enthusiasm presents a more comprehensively politicized picture of Blake than any previous study. It is supported by a wealth of original research which will be of interest to historians and literary critics alike. Blake emerges from these pages as a 'bricoleur' who fused the language of London's popular dissenting culture with the more sceptical radicalism of the Enlightenment. His prophetic books are shown to be less the expressions of isolated genius than the products of a complex response to the cultural politics of his contemporaries.