Raphael wrote:I would encourage anyone new to our dear poet to read his letters and ignore biographies mainly.
Maureen wrote:Although even then one has to think about their own perception.
Biographies, especially of historical figures, are often just as much about conjecture and interpretation as anything else. Certain facts will always remain the same, but we're each given plenty of opportunities to draw our own conclusions about who people really were. The kicker is that we'll never know in most cases what actually IS true and what is inference. Even if we each stick exclusively to Keats' letters, we'll all get something different out of them, just as we will reading his poems.
All literature, be it fiction, nonfiction, verse, or even journalism, lends itself to individual digestion. Personally, I think it's worth it to read a wide variety of biographical takes on a particular person and create your own ideas by sorting through the ideas of others.
Raphael wrote:If one reads the letters it is obvious that he was a really funny, witty young man with a great sense of humour. I think the biographers have over emphasised his *depressions* and *melancholy*. It stuck me upon reading his letters from Winchester that to Fanny B he is telling he is feeling low, yet the letters he writes to George and Georgiana are full of jokes and revelry!
From reading his letters he seems to me more light hearted than the biographers portray him.
Agreed. It's very easy to look at artists as perpetual brooders, but forget that they are people, too. We know Keats was very active and like to be outdoors, so why wouldn't he play football now and again? There is, of course, the classic story of his imitating the bassoon. No reason to believe that something like that would be an isolated incident, of course. Especially for someone who experienced as much tragedy in his life as Keats did, I get the impression that he was a generally positive person.
As for the Scottish dance in the film, though, that was hardly social dancing like that he would have observed at balls or gatherings. We know that he appreciated the folk dancing he observed on his Scottish tour, so the idea that he would be portrayed imitating it for the amusement of others (not at all seriously) doesn't seem all that far-fetched to me.
Raphael wrote:I find the syphilis/VD very unlikely- as once one had VD then one had it for life- only antibiotics gets rid of it. iI find it hard to believe that a man of his medical knowledge and interest in hygeine would have gone to bed with a random woman withiout checking or noticing she had a veneral disease!
I don't know. . . I think this might be an overestimation of the medical understanding of the day. Just because a VD may show visible flare-ups doesn't mean it always does. And who knows, it might have been dark. Even today, with the prevalence of sex ed and unpleasantly graphic slide shows in schools that SHOULD make us know better, people manage to pick these things up (I've always heard from friends and acquaintances in the medical field that it's kind of amazing how many people have some kind of VD).
Again, of course the theory is entirely conjecture based on a few known facts, but I don't think any of us can safely say that it's true or false either way. As Maureen says, best keep an open mind, even if we don't always like or agree with what we might read. I say that as an avid lover of Mozart who gets a bit irked whenever people talk about him as a perpetually irresponsible boozer (which I don't believe).