Negative capability

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Negative capability

Postby Smita » Sat May 24, 2003 1:08 pm

Hello all,
I just don' think i understand negative capability. Can someone please explain it to me with examples? I don't need this for a homework assignment I finished my masters degree 4 years ago and am ashamed to say went by without much knowledge on Negative Capability, now when i don't have to study for an exam i feel i'd like to finally know what it is all about. Also The last couplet in 'Ode on A Grecian Urn' does it continue to be ambiguous and problematic or are we close to some unanimous solution? "Beauty is truth-truth beauty"
another little thing. There is this new website that i have started, its not money making or anything but just a place where literature lovers can meet and discuss stuff and also post their poems, stories, essays, art anything please do come and check it out :o)
the url is: (keep your screen settings to 800 x 600 for the best view

neg capability

Postby charley » Sun Jun 01, 2003 4:17 pm

look smita,
i'm in yr 10 and i get it dont make it so complicated all it is is doing things without reason or logic!there u go i should have a masters.

Negative Capability

Postby Hannah » Sun Jun 01, 2003 6:35 pm

Hi Smita

I just thought i'd try to help you out in explaining Negative Capability. It's meaning is a little ambiguous so you don't have to agree with me but this is my interpretation. Basically Negative Capability is about the ability of an author to allow himself to become the character he is writing about and ortray things from his/her point of view. A couple of his letters back up this opinion;

"A poet is the most unpostical thing in existance; because he has no identity-he is continually in for- and fulfilling some other body"

There's also a quote about imagining himself to be a sparrow, pecking in the earth, but I can't find it right now.

Keats felt that Shakespeare also displayed this idea

"What quality went to form a man of achievement especially in literature and which Shakespere possessed so enormously-I ean Neagative Capability"

However he contrasted this style with what he called the "Egotistical Sublime" which he said was typical of Wordsworth. This is the idea that the authour writes about his own life, thoughts and experiances, creating characters that are really the author himself.

For examples from the poems you can use pretty much all of the narrative poems as well as things like Ode on a Grecian Urn, where Keats imagines the complex lives of the Urn's images.

I hope you find this useful :D


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