"Who Killed John Keats?"

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

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"Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby dks » Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:27 pm

Ok--I'll let you guys read this and then we can, you know, mull it over and talk about it...I will keep a look out for her book, too...

http://chronicle.com/free/v53/i19/19b01501.htm
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby Credo Buffa » Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:08 pm

Hmmm. . . not sure what to make of the poisoning theory. Putting all of Keats' statements suggesting as much all right there in the same article, especially without any indication that there was any investigation into such a claim even by Keats himself while he was alive, does start to make it look like paranoia more than anything. And it's easy enough to see anyway that Keats had quite a jealous nature, so it seems to me that the idea that he simply was a bit overly suspicious--a behavior which many incidents over the course life could reasonably induce--rather than actually poisoned.

Besides, even if there was some kind of clandestine affair going on between Brown and Fanny Brawne, or even if there was some scandal involving unpaid debts and the like, I have a hard time believing that anyone in Keats' life, however unfortunately tenuous many of those relationships were, would go so far as to attempt murder. The motives just don't seem strong enough to suggest such an extreme.

The human body is a strange thing, and even with all of our miraculous medical knowledge today, there are countless things we still don't understand. We know that Keats had ample opportunity to be exposed to consumption, and he certainly recognized himself that he was displaying those symptoms. But that doesn't have to mean that there weren't other complications involved as well that might have been beyond the capabilities of even the best doctors of the day. Heck, even I've been through the experience of bizarre and seemingly unexplainable symptoms that have baffled my physicians even after tests upon tests. And I have absolutely no reason to think someone might be trying to off me.

It certainly is an intriguing topic, though, if not for the fact that it brings into serious speculation the nature of all that sensitive and supposedly accusatory missing material from Keats' letters. There are a myriad of dark and tantalizing things that might be included there, and in the real sentiment behind "This Living Hand" in particular, that could very well have nothing to do with death or illness.
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby Saturn » Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:25 pm

I think this is pure nonsense. It's natural when an artist, and such a gifted one, dies at such a relatively young age to look for some reason, some explanation beyond the accepted fact. History affords countless examples.

I see no plausible reasons in this article, no motives, no evidence at all that Keats' death was the result of anything other than illness.
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby dks » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:02 pm

Oh--you guys don't have to convince me--personally, I think it a load of bull...a student gave it to me and I thought I'd post it just to see what you all thought--if anything, it's nice to know folks are out there studying him and his life--that is really at the heart of it for me--just so as long as no one damns him--then, I'm alright, even with theories that seem to be a few fries short of a Happy Meal... :wink:
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby Credo Buffa » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:57 pm

Ha ha, I had an inkling from the tone of your initial post that you felt that way, dks. It's nice to see that we're all on the same page as far as crackpot speculations into Keatsian history go. ;)

There are some interesting little tidbits in that article, though. Even the crazy stuff can sometimes give you new nuggets of information or food for thought.
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby Malia » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:13 am

I'm frankly amazed that this lady's supposition about Keats's death was even published. She seems to "cut and paste" whatever quotes and speculations from Keats and his contemporaries would best suit her hypothesis. I learned that that kind of "scholarship" was unacceptable back in my undergrad days. Her piece is interesting in a kind of "alternate universe fan-fiction" sort of way, but I wouldn't call it scholarly. I don't think her research is rigorous enough. For example, there is no discussion of how early childhood traumas i.e. the loss of his parents, his mother's failed remarriage, continual family fights over money (the Keats children lost touch with *all* of their extended family on their mother's side due in large part to a fight over inheritance), early death of his brother due to the dreaded "family disease" and, significantly, Keats' regular bouts with deep depression might have affected his state of mind. Keats' psyche was troubled by traumas going *way* back in his past--traumas that absolutely colored his emotional and mental life. Couple a bout of "blue devils" with the physical strain of TB (and all the family ghosts attendant on that disease) and it makes sense that he might become paranoid.

Interesting article, though, DKS. It's great to see us out and talking a little more :)
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby Malia » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:20 am

Actually, thinking about this article has got me to pondering what other "leaps of the imagination" scholars have made when trying to understand Keats and some aspect of his life and/or poetry. One that stands out in my mind right now is Robert Gittings' almost obsessive persuasion that Keats had a serious affair with Isabella Jones. Am I alone or does he seem to want to bring Isabella Jones up as much as he possibly can in his biography of Keats. I really don't think she was that large a figure in his life. Maybe he kissed her and bumped into her a few times--(hmm. . .that just sounds a little *wrong* doesn't it? LOL) but Gittings seems to make their relationship out to be almost a soap opera (especially when bringing in Taylor's relationship with Isabella. A three sided love affair? I don't think so. . .)
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby Credo Buffa » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:34 pm

The biggest challenge of any kind of scholarship has to be finding a new angle, and I've got to believe that artistic fields, where the majority of the canon is relatively static and has been turned over countless times already over maybe hundreds of years, have it the toughest. There are only so many times you can make a scholarly analysis of a poem and have it come out to be both unique and reasonably valid. Even while I was studying for my MA in Ethnomusicology, a field that is still quite in its early stages of development and has plenty of room to grow, I got the sense that some of its leading figures were deviating off into areas that were so specialized and so outrageously out-of-the-box that no one could possibly follow them. After sitting in lectures by renowned ethnomusicologists and listening to them talk about absolute drivel that neither particularly advanced the field nor made much sense to anyone but the researcher, I really was extremely turn-off to the entire world of academia. There's so much pressure for the Ivory Tower to produce new work that we end up with "major new university studies" that tell us that teenagers have poor judgement when they drink (no. . . really?!) and articles like the above that make sweeping claims without much hard research or evidence to back it up. It's really too bad that such intelligent people are driven to such lows. :(
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby Maureen » Sun Feb 28, 2010 2:45 pm

I suppose in its way it's no dafter than other theories I've read: Shakespeare intended Hamlet to be a woman disguised as a man; Desdemona was secretly pregnant with Cassio's child.... I think there are plenty of theories you could come up with and use very selective information to support. Doesn't mean it has any validity.
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby davpol8112 » Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:49 pm

A poem about Isabella (Jones not the Pot of Basil!)

5. Isabella Jones to Fanny Brawne

I stopped his warmth with kisses
cold as a salmon sun first breaking
South of England young at twenty-two
with knowing and desires near early seas
grey vows dawning.

First loved you among death -
all London draped and Tom’s pale cheek
breasting a pillow so desired
as time’s thin funnel waited
only to swoon to yours.

Rebelling from midwinter that he carried
into your arms and smile
and both to Italy
th’embrace I could not grant
living so strong,
was yours to place.
And with some delicatesse
that he could taste his dreams,
return from Tom’s white ghost
to poesy and time;
be changeable in thee and grant him
(should have had)
life.

Take then the gifts:
his miniature by Severn and the ring
fingered to yours my sweet,
so much he loves and so rejected
into your tomb his promise
and away from me.
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby chris » Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:23 pm

hey everybody, my name is chris, long-time keats fan, first-time poster. pretty morbid topic for my maiden post, but hey i'm a morbid sort of guy. from what i've read, the evidence strongly suggests that keats died from consumption. he was probably exposed to the disease whilst nursing tom; the walking tour in scotland is also suggested as a possible cause; not discounting the fact that consumption was a common cause of death in 19th century Britain. this is the traditionally held view and i see no reason yet to deviate from it.
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby Saturn » Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:37 pm

Welcome Chris you're right there this is a very old thread, no-one is seriously challenging the fact that he died of TB.

Anyway nice to have you on board, and a Verve fan, cool 8)
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby chris » Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:46 pm

cheers for the welcome. yeah, big fan of the Verve, or should i say the Verve of the 90s. (the less said about their latest release the better).
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby Raphael » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:39 pm

Like your poem Davpol!
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: "Who Killed John Keats?"

Postby AnthonyN » Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:10 pm

chrfis wrote:hey everybody, my name is chris, long-time keats fan, first-time poster. pretty morbid topic for my maiden post, but hey i'm a morbid sort of guy. from what i've read, the evidence strongly suggests that keats died from consumption. he was probably exposed to the disease whilst nursing tom; the walking tour in scotland is also suggested as a possible cause so use Vugrx Plus from https://dudehung.com/vigrx-plus-review-results-2016 not discounting the fact that consumption was a common cause of death in 19th century Britain. this is the traditionally held view and i see no reason yet to deviate from it.


It was an interesting read but I don't believe it. I think the writer just wrote it to cause a bit of controversy and stir the pot a little bit.
Last edited by AnthonyN on Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:54 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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