Keats in our century

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

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Keats in our century

Postby Raphael » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:31 pm

I've been pondering upon the following lately:
Would John Keats have been happier if he had been born in our century ( well I'm thinking being alive and young any time after the 1960s.. after the attitudes on sexuality loosened)?
He wouldn't have got consumption or been forbidden to be with Fanny..
If he could be brought into our time after living through his won , what would he think of it? What would he like and dislike? I think he's been intrigued by modern women anyway! He would hate traffic and the noise I think.
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: Keats in our century

Postby Saturn » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:49 pm

Well for a start he probably wouldn't be a poet, poetry in the bewildering array of entertainment, arts and media is virtually non-existent in the modern mindset of the vast majority of people.

Pop music in the last century was the poetry of the people, I don't know what it is in this century, but nobody could, or does make a living from being a poet; nobody ever really has, without patronage, or inherited wealth, or some other source of income. If Keats hadn't had any money left from his parents' estate, he would never have been able to live the life he did, he would have had to make his own living. I'm not saying he lived a life of luxury and ease, of course he didn't but he never faced the prospect of being in total penury.

In the other aspects of his life of course his TB would have been easily diagnosed and cured and his relationship with Fanny would not have been subject to the societal pressure and formalities of the Regency age, but would it have worked then or now?
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: Keats in our century

Postby Raphael » Wed Oct 28, 2009 7:35 pm

Thanks for the reply!

Well for a start he probably wouldn't be a poet, poetry in the bewildering array of entertainment, arts and media is virtually non-existent in the modern mindset of the vast majority of people.


Well I think you could br tight, but poetry was what he was made for so I think he would have been writing poetry and perhaps had a second /day job.Perhaps he would have gone to university and studied literature formally ( as he loved literature and reading) and become a lecturer and publihsed poems!

Pop music in the last century was the poetry of the people, I don;t know what it is in this century, but nobody could, or does make a living from being a poet; nobody ever really has, without patronage, or inherited wealth, or some other source of income. If Keats hadn't had any money left from his parents' estate, he would never have been able to live the life he did, he would have had to make his own living. I'm not saying he lived a life of luxury and ease, of course he didn't but he never faced the prospect of being in total penury.


Yes, true- that's why he might have done what I suggest above.

In the other aspects of his life of course his TB would have been easily diagnosed and cured


Well he would haven't had it in the first place as we all get the vaccine here in Britain for it at 13. I remember having my injection well- it was rather painful and we had to have a course of three.I wasn't looking forward to it, but I knew that it was a very important innoculation so wanted to be immune to this disease. The injection caused the area of injecting to swell and fill with pus and I had to wear a plaster for about a week. We all did- and the school mates liked to show off their plasters or even hit you where the wound was!


and his relationship with Fanny would not have been subject to the societal pressure and formalities of the Regency age, but would it have worked then or now?


I think it would have worked so much better now- they would be free to make love without being judged, spend time with each other freely and not have the pressure of marriage. John could have worked part time or even full time, wrote his poems and Fanny would of course be able to work, so the pressure of one income would be gone.

I don't know why they didn't just give in to their passion and make love- after all John was medically trained and would have known where to get contraception from- they did have it back then. When he says that he should have had her when he had the chance indicates to me Fanny would have consented if he had tried to take her to bed...
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: Keats in our century

Postby Fortuna » Sat Nov 07, 2009 1:29 pm

Raphael wrote:I think it would have worked so much better now- they would be free to make love without being judged, spend time with each other freely and not have the pressure of marriage. John could have worked part time or even full time, wrote his poems and Fanny would of course be able to work, so the pressure of one income would be gone.

I don't know why they didn't just give in to their passion and make love- after all John was medically trained and would have known where to get contraception from- they did have it back then. When he says that he should have had her when he had the chance indicates to me Fanny would have consented if he had tried to take her to bed...


Interesting musings!

I found when reading his biography by Andrew Motion that Keats had a very strong sense of righteousness/chivalry... not sure of the best word to use here and I certainly don't want to impose any attributions to him that he would probably vehemently object to! It was evident in his disdain of people like Shelley who showed him a lot of support and kindness, that he disagreed with his lifestyle. Perhaps Keats was in love with the idea of being in love and coveted that very traditional romance where two people wait until marriage and devote themselves fully to each other for the rest of their lives. I know he wasn't exactly conservative, nor a virgin before he met Fanny, but I think he did respect the ideal of saving oneself for one's 'Great Love' and the anticipation would have been good as the consummation itself, for Keats.
"Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath"
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Re: Keats in our century

Postby Raphael » Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:49 pm

I agree- he seemed to have the idea of the great true love and was a totally loyal lover I think. As to him being virgin we don't really know do we?
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: Keats in our century

Postby Saturn » Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:07 pm

Let's not get into that one again :roll:
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Re: Keats in our century

Postby Fortuna » Sun Nov 08, 2009 1:11 am

... Did I miss something? Sorry I have not been around so I didn't realise I was opening up a can of worms here, Saturn!

I gladly back away from this discussion.
"Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath"
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Re: Keats in our century

Postby Raphael » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:47 pm

Fortuna wrote:... Did I miss something? Sorry I have not been around so I didn't realise I was opening up a can of worms here, Saturn!

I gladly back away from this discussion.


There had been a discussion of this awhile back- I wasn't aiming to get into it again Saturn, it was more a response to Fortuna'sview of Keats being a good guy!
So to steer this way Fortuna- if he was living to day do you think he'd still be a poet? What would Fanny be? I see her as a kind of fashion (clothes) designer or crafts designer.
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: Keats in our century

Postby toots » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:00 am

I think Keats might have made a good medical man if he had lived in our time. It is very interesting to read the obituary of Professor Sir John Crofton in the same week that I saw the film 'Bright Star'. Professor Crofton pioneered the treatment of tuberculosis in the 20th century and his work has saved a lot of people from dying a horrible death. TB is still a problem and quite hard to treat. I think the World Health Organisation has launched a recent campaign to raise awareness of TB in the developing world.

Here is a link to the article:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 928772.ece

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Re: Keats in our century

Postby Raphael » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:36 pm

I think Keats might have made a good medical man if he had lived in our time.


Well he certainly was caring enough! :D If only he had been spared such a horrible disease and death...
I had the injection against it when I was 13 for which I'm eternally grateful ( they did a test on you to see if you had an immunity to TB as some people do and I had none...)
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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