Unsolved mysteries

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

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Unsolved mysteries

Postby Despondence » Tue Dec 21, 2004 5:16 pm

What are the unsolved mysteries surrounding Keats' life and poetry? Reading biographies, it is easy to get the impression that everything is already nailed down to every minute detail. In reality, however, much of what we sometimes mistake for facts are just long standing myths originally built on surmise and speculation. If you hear something repeated often enough, you'll eventually think it true without questioning. I am convinced there is still room for a lot of speculation, and even discovery.

Let's start a thread with people's favorite speculations and loony theories - especially such stuff as goes outside of or clashes with the traditional biographies. Did Keats ever consumate his love? Whatever was he up to with Ms. Isabella Jones? Why was he taking mercury? Is it him speaking with four voices in Hyperion? Was Moneta someone real? Who wrote the attack in the Blackwood? &c, &c, &c.


[ P.S. - And happy holidays everyone! ]
Last edited by Despondence on Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Postby Saturn » Tue Dec 21, 2004 11:32 pm

Iabella Cox - I think Keats got a bit frisky with her at one point - from all I've read about her she was a bit of a flirt and I think that Keats actually went to her house unchaperoned a few times, and in those days that was almost the equivalent of having a three in a bed orgy today. All we are told is that he kissed her, but did he go a lot further?

If he didn't actually have sex with her, he did apparentluy have sex with prostitutes as one of the biograhers kind of tells us in a throwaway line. He visited brothels with Brown sometimes.

How does that affect everyone's view of the angelic, Adonais-like Keats of the myth?
Does that upset people who put Keats up on a pedestal?

I have no problem with it at all - it doesn't affect my view of his poetry or letters - his use of bawdy is well known and wholly in tune with Regency manners and behaviour.
Check out one of the appendicies to Gittings for more of Keats bawdy sense of humour.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Junkets » Wed Dec 22, 2004 2:56 pm

Responding to Despondence, The mercury, according to the Gittings biography, was for the treatment of syphallis, which he probably picked up in the brothals with Brown.
The four voices in Hyperion, eh? What where or whom is the fourth voice? I did my dissertaition at university on the voices in Hyperion, so it's of interest.
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Postby Despondence » Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:51 pm

First an errata, I garbled the names a bit - I was thinking about Isabella Jones (and not Jane Cox, or any cross betwen them!)

She had a strong influence over him during an extended time during which he frequently visited her, even as far as suggesting the themes for the gothic pieces on St. Agnes and St. Mark. Apparently she meant to keep him at a platonic distance, while still flirting with Taylor, but there is a gap in the story where we don't quite know what went on between her and Keats. Then, ominuosly, she fell ill at one point (veneral?), and Keats never spoke of her again.

On the voices in Hyperion, I was thinking about Saturn, Apollo, Hyperion and Oceanus, which can all be construed as versions of Keats (the old, the new, the philosophical, and perhaps, the future Keats?) I guess my question was, even if it is possible to grasp for straws and make identifications here an there, is it the correct interpretation?

As to the first treatment of mercury (it recurred several times), it seems not entirely clear that it was syphilis, it might have been gonorreah - which at the time was erroneously thought to be the same disease at a different stage, and treated similarly with mercury!

These few topics which I mentioned were just a few that came to my mind quickly, not by far a complete list of "mysteries" (although it would be cool to create such a list).

Happy Christmas and New Year everybody!!

Postby Saturn » Thu Dec 23, 2004 2:33 pm

Whoops, I should have got my Isablellas right!!

Anyway, I'll have to do a bit of rereading to see if I csan find any more of those unsolved mysteries.

Happy Christmas and New Year everyone!!
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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