What does this letter mean?

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

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What does this letter mean?

Postby Raphael » Sat Jan 02, 2010 3:47 pm

To Fanny March 1820.


"I had nothing particular to say today, but not intending that there shall be any interruption to our correspondence (which at some future time I propose offering to Murray * ). I write something."

* the publisher


I have read this over a few times, and it reads to me as though he was saying that he would publish their letters, but that cannot be so surely?
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: What does this letter mean?

Postby Malia » Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:00 pm

I think he was being tongue-in-cheek there. I'm pretty sure he hadn't intended any of his correspondence to be published. I'm not *exactly* sure, but wasn't publishing one's letters/memoirs something a posh or popular writer did? I think he's making another little jabbing joke at himself, if that's the case, as Keats was anything but a popular writer at the time.
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Re: What does this letter mean?

Postby Raphael » Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:20 pm

Malia wrote:I think he was being tongue-in-cheek there. I'm pretty sure he hadn't intended any of his correspondence to be published. I'm not *exactly* sure, but wasn't publishing one's letters/memoirs something a posh or popular writer did? I think he's making another little jabbing joke at himself, if that's the case, as Keats was anything but a popular writer at the time.


I had never thought of that- that he was joking; that's one thing lost in some written forms- we don't always get the intended tone. I'm pretty sure some of his self deprecating humour and exaggerations were taken literally by some biographers and misunderstood.
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: What does this letter mean?

Postby BrokenLyre » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:25 pm

For those who have not seen this John Keats quote from one of his letters, ponder this for a bit:

He wrote to his sister, Fanny,

"Now Fanny you must write soon - and write all you think about, never mind what - only let me have a good deal
of your writing - You need not do it all at once - be two or three or four days about it, and let it be a diary of
your little Life. You will preserve all my Letters and I will secure yours - and thus in the course of time we shall
each of us have a good Bundle - which, hereafter, when things may have strangely altered and god knows what happened,
we may read over together and look with pleasure on times past - that now are to come.
Give my respects to the ladies - and so my dear Fanny I am ever

Your most affectionate Brother,
John."

Is this not one of the most tender and thoughtful comments from his letters? And it is intensely ironic and sad in light of how things turned out. I swear, I can almost hear his voice in this letter. I like how Keats treats letters like we treat pictures. In his day, letters were precious and treasured. And so we treasure his letters, but not in the way that he meant above. A beautiful, heartfelt love for his sister, brimming over with hope for their futures together. How remarkable and moving.

I found this in Dororthy Hewlett's "Adonais: A Life of John Keats." 1936. Fun read. Just too good a quote to hold onto :) I could read this a hundred times.
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: What does this letter mean?

Postby Raphael » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:26 pm

Yes, I read it too- and like you found it endearing and sad in light of what happened. In another he also talks About them growing old and plump...
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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