Best Keats Biography?

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

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Best Keats Biography?

Postby BrightStar » Wed Nov 17, 2004 3:57 am

I just ordered the Andrew Motion biography of Keats and am impatiently awaiting its arrival, though I've heard (don't know how reliable my source is) that there is some erroneous information in it. I was also wondering what other bios you all had read and what you recommend or don't recommend. I've read some interesting things online already and am looking for actual books (though as a grad student I won't have time to read them until Christmas. :( ). Thanks!
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Postby Junkets » Wed Nov 17, 2004 9:57 am

Of the three I've read the best by far was the Robert Gittings biography. The Motion biography was not that great, but my opinion I think was marred by the fact that I don't like Andrew Motion and set out determined not to like his biography. I can't remember who the other one was by, erm...was it Harold Bloom, or someone by the name of Bates...Oh well, I can't remember.
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Postby Saturn » Wed Nov 17, 2004 11:33 am

It was Jonathan Bate, published the same year as Gittings' one (1968).

I love the Gittings one as it was the first one I read, but there's nothing wrong with Andrew Motions' one - it actually gives a lot of interesting 'afterwords' about Keats' brother George and sister Fanny and of Course Fanny Brawne.
The photos and reproductions of letters and drafts of poems are worth buying it for in any case.

I don't know anything much about Andrew Motion apart from hearing some of his bad poetry - this man is supposed to be poet-laureate!!
I have no particualr prejudice against him, as he is an excellent writer and biographer, just not much of a poet.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Junkets » Wed Nov 17, 2004 4:27 pm

I thank you. Jonathan Bate it was.
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re:

Postby BrightStar » Thu Nov 18, 2004 8:42 am

Thanks :) The Andrew Motion arrived today, but I will check out the Bate and/or Gittings next.
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Best Keats Biography

Postby Malia » Mon Nov 29, 2004 1:01 am

Hello everyone--I'm new to this forum but so happy I found some fellow Keastians:)
I'd like to recommend the Aileen Ward biography. It is my very favorite and, though all the Keats bios have their qualities, I think the Ward biography is written in the most poetic style. It reads more like a grand story rather than just a scholastic work--though it is filled with as great a scholarship as the other biographies.

I'd have to say that if you're looking for a biography that focuses on scholarship and poetical study, the Bate biography is best. For a great introduction into Keats' life, the Ward bio is the best. Sadly, the book is out of print, but you can find it online through ABEbooks and good used copies are relatively inexpensive.
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Best Keats Biography

Postby Malia » Mon Nov 29, 2004 1:12 am

Hello everyone--I'm new to this forum but so happy I found some fellow Keastians:)
I'd like to recommend the Aileen Ward biography. It is my very favorite and, though all the Keats bios have their qualities, I think the Ward biography is written in the most poetic style. It reads more like a grand story rather than just a scholastic work--though it is filled with as great a scholarship as the other biographies.

I'd have to say that if you're looking for a biography that focuses on scholarship and poetical study, the Bate biography is best. For a great introduction into Keats' life, the Ward bio is the best. Sadly, the book is out of print, but you can find it online through ABEbooks and good used copies are relatively inexpensive.
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Ward and Lowell

Postby bratsche » Sat Dec 11, 2004 5:27 pm

I agree that of all of them, the Aileen Ward was perhaps the most "human" of all... Bate for scholarship, Lowell for being closer to the original reserach, Motion for being newest... but I return to Ward because, for many reasons, she takes me right there!
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Postby Despondence » Fri Dec 17, 2004 4:48 pm

I recently read Gittings', and although I haven't read it from cover to cover I use Motion's to look up a lot of stuff. It seems that Gittings revised several facts and interpretations that were incorrect or misunderstood in Ward and Bates. Mostly minor stuff (dates &c), but a few major things (e.g. the cause for his mercury treatment). If you're looking for accuracy, perhaps Gittings is one cut above Ward and Bates, simply by being their successor and building upon their works - it may be that the same is true again for Motion compared to Gittings, but this I have not yet looked in to.
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Postby Wickers_Poet » Mon Feb 14, 2005 4:23 am

My favourite is the Andrew Motion biograhy. I don't like Andrew Motion much either.
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