So, how much do you really know about Keats?

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

Moderators: Saturn, Malia

Postby Saturn » Fri Jan 27, 2006 12:17 am

“All men make mistakes, it is only human.
But once the wrong is done, a man
can turn his back on folly, misfortune too,
if he tries to make amends, however low he’s fallen,
and stops his bullnecked ways. Stubbornness
brands you for stupiditypride is a crime.”

“It’s best to learn from a good adviser
when he speaks for your own good:
it’s pure gain.”
Sophocles, Antigone

Imagine me reading this is in a professorial tone :lol:
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Despondence » Fri Jan 27, 2006 1:31 am

Yes, all right - I get it.
Rub it in, why don't you.

:evil:
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Postby Credo Buffa » Fri Jan 27, 2006 3:16 am

OK, here's my question. It's silly and easy because I'm kinda tired and my brain isn't agreeing with me:

In addition to his notes, what did Keats put in his medical notebooks while studying at Guy's?
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Postby Malia » Fri Jan 27, 2006 8:12 am

I think I know this one. Did he doodle pictures of flowers, fruits and skulls in the margins of his notebooks?
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Postby Credo Buffa » Fri Jan 27, 2006 8:53 pm

Indeed he did, Malia. I knew someone would get that right away.
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Postby Saturn » Fri Jan 27, 2006 10:19 pm

Your turn Malia :wink:
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Postby Malia » Fri Jan 27, 2006 10:31 pm

OK, let me see. . .hmm. . .Ah!

We all know that Keats was a celebrated fighter at school. But there was one famous account of a fight he started after he'd left school. (If I remember correctly, this fight took place in or around Hampstead.) Why did he start the fight? With whom did he fight and how did it end? (Basically, recount the story for me! hehe)
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Postby Credo Buffa » Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:46 pm

I think I can at least partially answer this question:

Keats came across a butcher boy tormenting a kitten and "intervened" so to say. I think the fight went on for quite a while, but Keats came out victorious in the end :)
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Postby Malia » Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:54 pm

That's correct!

In fact, in the accounts I've read, it's said that the butcher's boy (and butcher's boys are notoriously large and strong --due to their line of work) had to be carried away from the fight, Keats had pummelled him so badly.

Various accounts have it that either the butcher's boy was tormenting a cat or a kitten. I prefer the kitten account as it makes his torment even more reprehensible, in my opinion.

When I read this story, I tend to color it in a dramatic light, thinking that Keats was probably angry and upset about his life's circumstances that day (perhaps brooding over Tom's ill health--which was a situation that caused him great anxiety) or maybe he'd just had a bad row with Abbey and had energy to burn. And lo! here's a perfect opportunity for him to pound out some of his anger--and come out a kind of "hero" in the end :)
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Postby Credo Buffa » Sat Jan 28, 2006 12:13 am

One account I've read of this story actually uses it as an ultimate example of Keats's physical strength despite his small stature, saying that he not only had the disadvantage of size in this fight, but was already in the early stages of his illness when this fight occurred. I doubt we have any real evidence that can vouch for whether or not this is true or even likely, but it's interesting nonetheless, because we do know that doctors were amazed at how long he managed to live in his deteriorated state. If this account is true, it would certainly be a testament against all the false conceptions of Keats as a weak, over-sensitive waif killed off by a few bad reviews :wink:
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Postby Saturn » Sat Jan 28, 2006 10:48 am

You people are too smart for me - I'd totally forgotten about the Butcher boy incident.

Your turn Credo :wink:
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Postby Credo Buffa » Sat Jan 28, 2006 7:41 pm

OK, next question, another easy one:

What did Keats give to Fanny Brawne to symbolize their engagement?
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Postby Saturn » Sat Jan 28, 2006 11:41 pm

That's really obscure - plus I'm too lazy to look it up :lol:
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Postby Malia » Sun Jan 29, 2006 12:53 am

I think I know this one! Keats gave her a garnet ring which perhaps belonged to his mother. (Hmm.. .that has a certain Oedipal feeling to it, doesn't it?) It is said that Fanny Brawne wore this ring until she died.
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Postby Credo Buffa » Mon Jan 30, 2006 1:16 am

Correct again, Malia! I actually think it's really sweet that it might have been his mother's ring, especially considering how Keats's relationship with his mother had such a big impact on him. . . and it certainly wasn't all positive. Giving her ring to Fanny, if it was in fact her ring, sort of feels like a last gesture to show that he still wants her memory in his life.

It also a particularly strong sense of faith in it. I know that a lot of men use family heirlooms as engagement rings (one of my good friends has her husband's grandmother's ring). Giving something so precious to a lost relative, especially a close one, as a symbol of love and committment seems to say "Not only do I love you enough to want to marry you, but I want to share something of my family with you because I think my mother/grandmother/great-grandmother/etc. would want you to have it."

Maybe that's just the silly romantic in me talking :P
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