New collection of Keats biographical essays

The life of John Keats the man: his family, his friends, and his contemporaries.

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New collection of Keats biographical essays

Postby Ravenwing » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:03 pm

Have any of you read this book?

John Keats and the Medical Imagination, edited by Nicolas Roe (December, 2017)

"This book presents ten new chapters on John Keats's medical imagination, beginning with his practical engagement with dissection and surgery, and the extraordinary poems he wrote during his 'busy time' at Guy's Hospital 1815-17. The Physical Society at Guy's and the demands of a medical career are explored, as are the lyrical spheres of botany, melancholia, and Keats's strange oxymoronic poetics of suspended animation. Here too are links between surveillance of patients at Bedlam and of inner city streets that were walked by the poet of 'To Autumn'. The book concludes with a survey of multiple romantic pathologies of that most Keatsian of diseases, pulmonary tuberculosis."

A few pages of its introduction can be read by clicking the "Look Inside!" link on the following websites:

https://www.amazon.com/Medical-Imaginat ... 3319638106

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Medical-Imagin ... 3319638106

I have not changed my opinion from when I read Nicolas Roe's "John Keats" biography (2012) a few years ago: That it was nothing less than a crime against humanity for Guy's Hospital to have had its students to dissect corpses that were stolen from their graves.

When was it that Keats first met Mary Shelley? If it was before she had published her "Frankenstein" novel, one has to wonder if his venting to her and Percy about those gruesome "medical" school assignments was one of its influences. Or perhaps it was Leigh Hunt who did relay those horrible stories of his to Percy, who then did relay them to Mary before she wrote her "Frankenstein" novel.

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Re: New collection of Keats biographical essays

Postby Cybele » Fri Mar 16, 2018 5:31 pm

I've read a couple of books on this theme, but not Roe's. I was quite honestly put off by his (in my opinion, anyway) mediocre and disappointing Keats biography.

I don't have a copy of his letters close at hand, but I believe Keats met the Shelleys through Leigh Hunt. I also have it in my head that he met them after Mary Shelley had written her masterpiece. (There's a happy, somewhat exhuberant letter to -- I think -- Hunt from Keats that charmingly asked something like, "Does Mrs. Shelley still slice bread so neatly?" I'm therefore jumping to the conclusion that the Shelleys and Keats had had tea together on at least one occassion.)

Percy Shelley was very interested in the sciences, he almost certainly knew of Luigi Galvani's experiments in Italy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi_Galvani Mary, hersellf, was unusually well-educated for an early 19th century woman, due, largely, to her father's efforts.
(Note to self: I've got to read Richard Holmes's Shelley biography, since I love every word that flows from his pen. Have you read it, by any chance?)

RE: Body snatching and "Resurrection Men" -- Yup. This was a disgusting practice, altho' it's a bit of an exageration to say it was a crime against humanity. It was certainly a crime against the deceased's family, at a time when many people believed in the physical resurrection of the body on the Day of Judgement. Then, as now, study of the human body is esssential to a medical education. Fortunately for us, it's not now uncommon for some generous people to donate their bodies to medical schools. We all owe these kind and benevolent donors our thanks.
Last edited by Cybele on Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence."
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Re: New collection of Keats biographical essays

Postby Ravenwing » Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:58 pm

Cybele wrote:I've read a couple of books on this theme, but not Roe's. I was quite honestly put off by his (in my opinion, anyway) mediocre and disappointing Keats biography.


I wasn't inspired either, by Roe's biography of Keats. It is undeserving of having a detail of Severn's beautiful painting as its cover. The only others I have read thus far (and before having read Roe's) are his earliest, such as those that appeared as an introduction to Keats and which were published during the 19th and 20th centuries in the pages before his reprinted poems.

My library includes almost every English language biography of Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and Verlaine; I've read almost all of them, and some of them several times. Now that I've taught myself how to compose poems in accentual-syllabic verse, I hope to study in greater detail the life and poetry of Keats, Shelley, and Blake. Which biographies of Keats are some of your favourites?


Cybele wrote:(Note to self: I've got to read Richard Holmes's Shelley biography, since I love every word that flows from his pen. Have you read it, by any chance?)


I have barely begun to read about Shelley's life, though I hope to do so. Thus far, I have read "Lives of Famous Poets: Percy Bysshe Shelley", by William Michael Rossetti (1878); "The Best Letters of Percy Shelley Bysshe: Introduction", by Shirley Carter Hughson (1892); and "The Complete Works of Percy Shelley Bysshe: Biographical Sketch", by George Edward Woodberry (1901).
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