Keats: Man of Letters, Man of Many Moods

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

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Keats: Man of Letters, Man of Many Moods

Postby Malia » Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:47 pm

Earlier today, I read the introduction to the 1895 edition of Buxton Forman edition of Keats' Letters that Aquarius linked to in another part of the forum and found myself drawn to Forman's reason to include Keats's letters to Fanny Brawne. He said (in effect) that all of Keats's moods should be included in the volume; all sides of the man should be shown. This includes not just the loving brother, the sympathetic friend, and the thoughtful philosopher, but also the tortured soul; the bitter, dying man. That idea stuck in my mind as I reread some of his letters this afternoon.

I thought it might be fun to start a thread where we can post parts of Keats's letters that speak to specific aspects of his character--parts of his letters (quotes or even entire letters, if you want) that aptly illustrate a part of his character. And he had such a deep, complex character, that there are many "parts" to name and discuss!

So, I'll start with one that struck me this afternoon. This is Keats, the tenderhearted brother. This particular selection comes from Keats's letter to George and Georgiana Keats Dated 14-31 of October, 1818. He has just had to tell them that Tom is "much worse" and then goes on to express his gratitude for his ties with his family and friends.

Here's what he has to say to Georgiana about how he feels for her at this time:

"The Moon is now shining full and brilliant. She is the same to me in Matter what you are to me in Spirit. If you were here, my dear Sister, I could not pronounce the words which I can write to you from a distance. I have a tenderness for you, and an admiration which I feel to be as great and more chaste than I can have for any woman in the world. You will mention Fanny. Her character is not formed; her identity does not press upon me as yours does. I hope form the bottom of my heart that I may one day feel as much for her as I do for you."

When I read this today, I felt my heart melt just a little. How loving and caring Keats could be--and how poetically he could express his feelings to those he loved so dearly.
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Re: Keats: Man of Letters, Man of Many Moods

Postby Aquarius » Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:32 am

I'm not sure what aspect of Keats to ascribe this quote from his letters to, but I think it shows the light-hearted and sensuous side of Keats:

To Dilke, Sept 22 1819:

"Talking of Pleasure, this moment I was writing with one hand, and with the other holding to my Mouth a Nectarine-good God how fine-It went down soft pulpy, slushy, oozy-all its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat like a large beautified Strawberry."

I couldnt' help but smile at the image of Keats writing with one hand while savouring this juicy nectarine with the other.

But if you want to see the funny, witty and hilarious side of Keats you should read the letter to George Keats dated Sept 17, 1819. In it he writes to his brother and sister in law as if he is talking to them in person:

"I must take an opportunity here to observe that though I am writing to you, I am all the while writing at your wife. This explanation will account for my sometimes speaking hoity-toity-ishly, whereas if you were alone, I should sport a little more sober sadness. I am like a squinty gentleman, who, saying soft things to one lady, ogles another, or what is as bad, in arguing with a person on his left hand, appeals with his eye to one on the right. His vision is elastic; he bends it to a certain object, but having a patent spring it flies off. Writing has this disadvantage of speaking - one cannot write a wink, or a nod, or a grin, or a purse of the lips, or smile-O law! One cannot put one's finger to one's nose, or yerk ye in the ribs, or lay hold of your button in writing; but in all the most lively and titterly parts of my letter you must not fail to imagine me, as the epic poets say, now here, now there; now with one foot pointed at the ceiling, now with another; now with my pen in my ear, now with my elbow in my mouth."

I burst out laughing over "hoity-toity-ishly" and dissolved into giggles over the part about "saying soft things to one lady" while ogling another.
It appears to me that almost any man may like the spider spin from his own inwards his own airy citadel.
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Re: Keats: Man of Letters, Man of Many Moods

Postby wallflower » Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:12 pm

Writing has this disadvantage of speaking - one cannot write a wink, or a nod, or a grin, or a purse of the lips, or smile

looks like in 1819, keats was prempting the emoticon :wink: :lol:

i think this thread is a very good idea, i will be sure to contribute to it very soon :)
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