Review of Keats's Letters to Fanny Brawne circa 1878

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Review of Keats's Letters to Fanny Brawne circa 1878

Postby Malia » Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:05 am

Trolling the internet for Keats-related info the other day, I came across this review of M. Buxton Forman's collection of Keats's letters to Fanny Brawne, printed in 1878. This review from the New York Times is contemporary to the volume's release. For Keats-philes like us, it is interesting to read. I must admit, I was a little peeved when the reviewer pretty much tossed Fanny Brawne off as a thoughtless, careless flirt, but I remember that that was her legacy for some time until the 1920's when the pendulum swung the other way (in part due to Amy Lowell and her more feminist interpretation of Keats's life). Anyway, I thought you all might like to read this bit of history. I have attached the file--I could only get it in .pdf format, so I hope you all can open it. Hmmm. . .I can't seem to find a way to attach a .pdf file--I'll find some way to get it to you guys.
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Postby adonais » Sun Jan 06, 2008 4:51 pm

Can't you just post a link to it? (if you found it by "trolling the internet"..?)
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Postby Malia » Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:33 am

I didn't save the link, so I'll have to search for it again. I came across it by fortunate accident, so I'll have to put some mental muscle into finding it again.
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Postby adonais » Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:38 am

Maybe check your browser's history?

Just brainstorming here...

:lol:

(is that Simon & Garfunkel btw, in your avatar? looks like early-70s or even the 60s)
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Postby Malia » Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:46 am

Actually, the avitar is a picture taken from a photo shoot for the "Sounds of Silence" album, so the pictures were taken in '65 (or late '64). Pretty cool, poetic-looking shots of them in this photo shoot. I always thought it would be cool to have a poster-size picture of the Bookends album cover shot on my college dorm room wall.

Well, I finally got off my mental duff and found a link to the article reviewing Forman's 1878 review of Keats's letters to Fanny Brawne. You'll have to download the article as a .pdf file. Read it and post your thoughts :)

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9903EFD9113FE63BBC4A51DFB4668383669FDE
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Postby adonais » Sat Jan 12, 2008 12:49 pm

That was a very interesting read. It took me on a journey from mainly agreeing with what he said, to strong disagreement, to realizing that the reviewer was bound by a mindset of his time, and that we can understand things differently now.

I chuckled at his statement: "Had Kets lived she would probably have made him a good, practical, but very irritating wife." Somehow there might be some truth in that, although the irritation would have come at least in half from Keats himself :) The reviewer does go on after that to make some weird assertions though, that appear to be a bit misogynist, or just a fingerprint of the times. But he appears to have caught the tragedy of Keats quite rightly, as in: "While he was writing his lovely verses a domestic tragedy was going on all the time." But then he also makes statements that I can not imagine where he got them from, like: "He knew she did not really love him." Where did the reviewer get this??? I mean, maybe, but, how would he know, if so?

Also, at one point the time-line seems a bit warped, as the reviewer indicated that Brown got to witness the dying of Keats in a tangible manner. I always imagined this stage of Keats's life to have been the sorrowful duty of Severn to observe in Rome, and during the trip there, and that Keats was not that far gone while still in Hampstead. Maybe that's something that I miconstrued. How far was Keats's consumption gone while Brown was still attending him? Can it be described as "dying"? I guess it can, but did Brown know that?

(ps - I'm thinking the Bookends cover as a poster might give me Orwellian nightmares...but I could Imagine The Graduate cover, minus Dustin Hoffman :) )
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Postby Malia » Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:58 am

adonais wrote: But then he also makes statements that I can not imagine where he got them from, like: "He knew she did not really love him." Where did the reviewer get this??? I mean, maybe, but, how would he know, if so?


I think he got that idea from Keats's lettters, themselves. If I remember correctly, he accuses Fanny of being unfaithful (at least in her heart) to him on more than one occasion. Of course, he was walking the thin line between lucidity and lunacy due to his illness, so his words should not be taken without a grain of salt. Just because he was a great poet, doesn't mean he was always right.

Yes, I too saw the fingerprints of the era in his review. Fanny Brawne didn't have much of a chance to redeem herself, did she? Well, you know, this review was written before Fanny Brawne's letters to Fanny Keats were published, so we didn't have her "voice" at all as a counterpoint to Keats's--let alone her replies to his letters.
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Re: Review of Keats's Letters to Fanny Brawne circa 1878

Postby catlover » Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:00 am

I have the first edition of this book.My sister found it and bought it for me as a birthday gift.I treasure it.Thanks for including the review.
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