New book on Junkets

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

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New book on Junkets

Postby Raphael » Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:51 pm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/fe ... las-lezard

It looks interesting- has anyone read it yet?
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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Malia » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:36 pm

Yes, Raphael, I have read Plumley's book and it is a part of my ever-growing Keats library, as well :)

I read it last summer in the course of about 2 or 3 days; I basically devoured it. It is a good piece of work for an established Keatsian--someone who knows his life and work fairly well and who can understand all the references. It really is a book from one poet to another, so if the reader happens also to be a poet, he or she will get an even deeper connection to it than the "average" Keatsian, I think. Plumley writes in a circular style--drawing circles that often intersect so that some of the same topics are covered several times within the volume. It reads more like a meditation on the poet from a poet rather than a biographical "first to last" account. Definitely worth having in any Keatsian's library.
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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Credo Buffa » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:43 pm

I have this book as well, though admittedly had to give it up about halfway through when life got in the way. I agree with Malia's assessment that the writing style feels very stream-of-consciousness, and sometimes I personally would reach the end of a chapter and wonder how it managed to arrive from point A at the beginning to point B at the end. It's certainly a book designed for the avid Keats lover--people on this forum ;)--rather than the casual reader, since having a solid foundation in his life and work is pretty essential for being able to not get lost in that back-and-forth between ideas. But it is a unique take on Keats, which is a nice change from the standard biography.
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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Raphael » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:05 pm

Thanks for the reviews ladies- it sounds good. Does it focus on his dying and suffering though? Is it very melancholy?
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.

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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Cybele » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:53 pm

I heard about this book about a year ago. I was reluctant to buy it since I really wasn't too keen to read about the poor guy's excruciating death yet again.

It certainly is a kind of stream-of-consciousness thing that does seem to have been written with the Keats fan in mind. I've found it to be almost a meditation on the poet, his life, his work and how those things influenced others.

Raphael wrote:Thanks for the reviews ladies- it sounds good. Does it focus on his dying and suffering though? Is it very melancholy?


I've not found it depressing -- yet. I'm really enjoying it so far. I'm not-quite half-way through the book. Plumly rightly recognizes the poet's early death as part of the "mythos" (I think that's the word I'm searching for! :? ) of Keats, but so far has not dwelt on the disturbing details.
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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Raphael » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:53 pm

I was reluctant to buy it since I really wasn't too keen to read about the poor guy's excruciating death yet again.


Yes, I find it hard to bear and it feels gratuitousto me to keep reading about every haemorrhage, fever, coughing fit etc.


It certainly is a kind of stream-of-consciousness thing that does seem to have been written with the Keats fan in mind. I've found it to be almost a meditation on the poet, his life, his work and how those things influenced others.


I like the sound of that.


I've not found it depressing -- yet. I'm really enjoying it so far. I'm not-quite half-way through the book. Plumly rightly recognizes the poet's early death as part of the "mythos" (I think that's the word I'm searching for! :? ) of Keats, but so far has not dwelt on the disturbing details.


Please let me know if it does. I am not morbid about death nor fearful of it, as I do not believe in death, only a change in the nature of existence. But I don't like harrowing details of his suffering.
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.

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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Cybele » Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:56 am

LOL! I just noticed that I'm not the only one who used the word "meditation" to describe this work. (Sorry about that, Malia! I had no intention of plagiarizing your post!)

But "meditation" is an apt description. Do you know how you sometimes take an idea and turn it over in your mind, examining it over and over again from different mental vantage points?

That's what this book does. Right now, I'm reading about the Scottish tour. Why did John decide to undertake what was sure to be a grueling trek through sometimes challenging terrain? Why did George decide to emigrate? Why did Tom encourage his older brothers to do these things when he was so ill?

It's certainly impossible to know exactly what the Keats brothers were thinking (even tho' we do have the wonderful gift of the oldest brother's letters), but I'll bet we've all spent some time speculating about their thoughts.

Yeah.
I *like* this book.
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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Credo Buffa » Fri Feb 26, 2010 5:51 pm

Cybele wrote:But "meditation" is an apt description. Do you know how you sometimes take an idea and turn it over in your mind, examining it over and over again from different mental vantage points?

Yes, it's about as concise a summary of this book as you can get. You feel like you're getting inside Plumley's mind and reading his thoughts straight out of his head. Difficult to follow sometimes, but certainly interesting, as thoughts tend to be! :D

Cybele wrote:Why did John decide to undertake what was sure to be a grueling trek through sometimes challenging terrain? Why did George decide to emigrate? Why did Tom encourage his older brothers to do these things when he was so ill?

You know, I've never considered all of these questions in such close succession before, but now that I see them, I am struck by how independent all the Keats brothers seem to be. Yes, their relationship as siblings was very important to them, especially having lost their parents at such a young age, but I also have to believe that the upheaval in their young lives--never really having a strong foundation for a nuclear family with all the tragedy and shuffling around they experienced--forced them all to learn how to fend for themselves, and thus created very strong, individual personalities wherein personal convictions, and maybe even a sense of recklessness, were their driving forces.

I know this isn't the thread for this sort of pondering, but this comment got me thinking!
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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Cybele » Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:20 am

Credo Buffa wrote:Yes, it's about as concise a summary of this book as you can get. You feel like you're getting inside Plumley's mind and reading his thoughts straight out of his head. Difficult to follow sometimes, but certainly interesting, as thoughts tend to be! :D
You know, I've never considered all of these questions in such close succession before, but now that I see them, I am struck by how independent all the Keats brothers seem to be. Yes, their relationship as siblings was very important to them, especially having lost their parents at such a young age, but I also have to believe that the upheaval in their young lives--never really having a strong foundation for a nuclear family with all the tragedy and shuffling around they experienced--forced them all to learn how to fend for themselves, and thus created very strong, individual personalities wherein personal convictions, and maybe even a sense of recklessness, were their driving forces.

I know this isn't the thread for this sort of pondering, but this comment got me thinking!


This book has started me thinking about the brothers' relationship again. For some time, I thought George was rather callous & self-centered in his leaving for America when he did. -- Tom was so desperately ill. I kind of imagined him saying to John, "Hey -- I babysat him long enough while you did your thing. *You're* the one
with the medical training. -- *You* take care of him for a change. . ." (Altho' I had & have no evidence at all that such a conversation ever took place!)

Eventually, I changed my mind about George, and realized that he was simply trying to make his way in the world. Moving to America was the path so many people took in that century and the next. I also felt that all three brothers had engaged in some powerful wishful thinking, truly believing that Tom was on the mend.

But I kept thinking about George. I became angry when I found out that George & Georgiana owned slaves. Then I remembered that my favorite American Transcendentalist lived with the Keats family in Louisville -- and he was ardently anti-slavery.

I think what I'm trying to say is that this book has reminded me how complicated the Keats brothers were. -- How we all are.
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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Raphael » Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:00 pm

This book has started me thinking about the brothers' relationship again. For some time, I thought George was rather callous & self-centered in his leaving for America when he did. -- Tom was so desperately ill. I kind of imagined him saying to John, "Hey -- I babysat him long enough while you did your thing. *You're* the one
with the medical training. -- *You* take care of him for a change. . ." (Altho' I had & have no evidence at all that such a conversation ever took place!)

Eventually, I changed my mind about George, and realized that he was simply trying to make his way in the world. Moving to America was the path so many people took in that century and the next. I also felt that all three brothers had engaged in some powerful wishful thinking, truly believing that Tom was on the mend.


I think it was obvious poor Tom was not on the mend- so it would have been fairer on John for George to have stuck around after Tom's death- but then for him to leave must have made John feel a bit abondoned- he indictates it in his letters.

But I kept thinking about George. I became angry when I found out that George & Georgiana owned slaves.



I didn't know that!


Then I remembered that my favorite American Transcendentalist lived with the Keats family in Louisville -- and he was ardently anti-slavery.


Who was that?


I think what I'm trying to say is that this book has reminded me how complicated the Keats brothers were. -- How we all are.


True.
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: New book on Junkets

Postby Maureen » Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:27 pm

Thanks for the posts on this - it has made me want to get a copy of this book now: I'm often sceptical of new books on familiar subject because so many of them just reiterate the same stuff that I have already read elsewhere, but this seems a new angle on Joh's life.

Re the two posts above, my feeling is that often once a sibling meets a partner and marries, it is almost taken for granted that responsibility for family members is shifted to those without a partner. I have to admit that my unmarried sister took far more than her share of caring for our ailing mother than my married brother and myself. Similarly George - and possibly John himself - may have assumed that the latter would take care of Tom, especially - as has been pointed out above - as he had medical training. If George had stayed around until after Tom's death it would have been even harder to leave John all alone: in fact John may well have gone to America with them.
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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Raphael » Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:40 pm

Maureen wrote:Re the two posts above, my feeling is that often once a sibling meets a partner and marries, it is almost taken for granted that responsibility for family members is shifted to those without a partner. I have to admit that my unmarried sister took far more than her share of caring for our ailing mother than my married brother and myself. Similarly George - and possibly John himself - may have assumed that the latter would take care of Tom, especially - as has been pointed out above - as he had medical training. If George had stayed around until after Tom's death it would have been even harder to leave John all alone: in fact John may well have gone to America with them.


I don't think John would have gone to America- he wrote many times in his letters it did not appeal to him. He loved England too much and of course he had met Fanny by the time Tom died.
John....you did not live to see-
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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Maureen » Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:58 pm

True - and you're probably right: I was thinking about George and Georgiana being the only family members and John, having lost his parents and Tom, needing to be with the family he had left - in his more melancholy moments he may even have thought of cutting himself off from Fanny by crossing the Atlantic.

But not only did he love England and have close friends here, he also had his sister, and would have felt she needed him more than George. But I'm sure he was torn by the separation of the siblings he had remaining to him.
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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Cybele » Sun Feb 28, 2010 12:13 am

Maureen wrote:Thanks for the posts on this - it has made me want to get a copy of this book now: I'm often sceptical of new books on familiar subject because so many of them just reiterate the same stuff that I have already read elsewhere, but this seems a new angle on Joh's life.

Re the two posts above, my feeling is that often once a sibling meets a partner and marries, it is almost taken for granted that responsibility for family members is shifted to those without a partner. I have to admit that my unmarried sister took far more than her share of caring for our ailing mother than my married brother and myself. Similarly George - and possibly John himself - may have assumed that the latter would take care of Tom, especially - as has been pointed out above - as he had medical training. If George had stayed around until after Tom's death it would have been even harder to leave John all alone: in fact John may well have gone to America with them.


I know what you mean about so many books being re-hashing of previous books, and I think that was another reason why I didn't immediately jump at the opportunity to buy the book.

And I also agree with you how it's the person without a partner who often ends up caring for an ailing family member. I've seen it happen over and over again, myself.

I do believe that John was planning to follow "Big George" and "Little George" after a time -- he talked in his letters about visiting them. I don't think he had in mind a permanent residence in the new world, but was rather planning a long visit.
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Re: New book on Junkets

Postby Cybele » Sun Feb 28, 2010 12:19 am

Raphael wrote: I don't think John would have gone to America- he wrote many times in his letters it did not appeal to him. He loved England too much and of course he had met Fanny by the time Tom died.


Of course he loved England, but he did talk about visiting his brother and sister-in-law in America. The bitter things he said about America and Americans came after George's ill-fated investment in a riverboat with the naturalist, John James Audubon. -- Both George and John seemed certain that Audubon had swindled George. In fact, it was this financial disaster that led to George making a dangerous winter trip back to England to raise money just a couple months after Tom died.
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