Date of Letter Question

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

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Date of Letter Question

Postby tja444 » Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:07 pm

Hello to all.

I am relatively new to the poetic romances of John Keats. I have a question regarding one of his letters to Fanny Brawne. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

". . .I love you; all I can bring you is a swooning admiration of your Beauty. . . . You absorb me in spite of myself--you alone: for I look not forward with any pleasure to what is call'd being settled in the world; I tremble at domestic cares--yet for you I would meet them, though if it would leave you the happier I would rather die than do so."

I've seen this letter on various John Keats/Poetry websites, some with a date of May 3, 1818, and others (including with a date of July 25, 1819. I would think May 3, 1818 too early in their relationship for such a letter, but it is still confusing. Here is a comment from one such website:

"Keats wrote "Bright Star" in 1819 and revised it in 1820, perhaps on the (final) voyage to Italy. Friends and his doctor had urged him to try a common treatment for tuberculosis, a trip to Italy; however, Keats was aware that he was dying. Some critics have theorized that this poem was addressed to his fiance, Fanny Brawne, and connect the poem to his May 3, 1818 letter to her." ... /star.html

Can someone please clarify this matter? I know there is a May 3, 1818 letter to John Hamilton Reynolds, but was there also a letter to Fanny? Without knowing, I would think not. The July 25, 1819 date seems more reasonable (to my senses).
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Re: Date of Letter Question

Postby Malia » Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:24 pm

Hi tja444,
The July 25, 1819 date is the correct date for the Fanny Brawne letter. I just double-checked it in my edition of Keats's Selected Letters ed. by Grant Scott. We don't have any surviving letters from Keats to Fanny before July 1819, when he wrote to her from Shanklin, Isle of Wight.

I don't believe Keats even knew Fanny in May of 1818; he met her after he returned from his walking tour of Scotland, probably in the early Autumn of 1818.

Hope that helps :)
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Re: Date of Letter Question

Postby tja444 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:00 am

8) Thank you -- I figured as much. The websites I mentioned/listed need to be informed so that they might correct any inaccuracies (one of the pit-falls of the Internet).

P.S. I watched the movie (Bright Star) last weekend at a theater in Manhattan. My girlfriend could not view the final moments of the film when Fanny (Abbie Cornish) breaks down into uncontrollable sobs and moans. We both sat through the touching recitation of "Ode to the Nightingale" during the final credits. Did you enter the Bright Star Love Tweet/Letter Contest?
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