NEW BIOGRAPHY!

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

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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Cybele » Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:24 pm

And another review:
Pardon my cross-posting in two threads, but there was a review of Roe's biography plus little side-bar about the new Crutcher book.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 18776.html
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Cath » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:59 am

Thanks Cybele!

Roe's biography has also been chosen as one of The Guardian's Books of the Year 2012 - by Keats biographer Andrew Motion no less!:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/nov/23/books-of-the-year-2012-authors-favourites

It "puts the poet properly in his place", he writes.
"Why should we be owls, when we can be Eagles?" (Keats to Reynolds, 3 February 1818)
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Cath » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:53 pm

"Why should we be owls, when we can be Eagles?" (Keats to Reynolds, 3 February 1818)
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Cath » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:50 pm

Jonathan Bate's review of Roe's bio of Keats, Crutcher's bio of George Keats, and Gigante's book The Keats Brothers from the Times Literary Supplement:

http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1171553.ece

Bate is a Shakespeare scholar who published a biography in 2003 of Keats's contemporary, the poet John Clare.

Enjoy!
"Why should we be owls, when we can be Eagles?" (Keats to Reynolds, 3 February 1818)
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Cybele » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:57 pm

Thanks, Cath. That's a very nice article/review.
I'm simultaneously reading the Crutcher and the Roe books now, and recently finished the the Gigante book.

I've been pleasantly surprised by the Crutcher book, "George Keats of Kentucky." (The author, in addition to being a descendant of George Keats is a former executive of the Book of the Month Club, so the man has obvious experience in recognizing what makes a book a good read!) The biography is,for me,painting very vivid, well-rounded portraits of both Keats brothers.
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby BrokenLyre » Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:04 am

Thanks Cath for the link. The article was a wonderful piece to read.
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Ennis » Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:14 pm

I haven't read all of Roe's biography yet, although I did skim the passages concerning the opium business. We all know opium was legal in Keats's time and was the only recourse to pain. Having much experience in medicine, as well as being human (and not a god, as I sometimes view him), it wouldn't surprise me that Keats made use of opium. By today's diagnosis, he most likely was bio-polar; a little mood enhancing help would not have hurt. He certainly wasn't the only Romantic who partook. Hell, I would if I could legally purchase it at the local apothecary shop. Raphael, as much as you and I tend to put Keats on the proverbial pedestal (and I'm sure we aren't the only ones -- except for Saturn: I believe he's one of the few of us who understands Keats's young man "human-ness"!), Keats, was after all, barely out of his teens, and surely he couldn't have been much different than our teen - young men today. Besides, if opium encouraged those extraordinarily beautiful and perfect poems of the 1820 volume, more power to it. By the way, if I'm not mistaken, in Fanny B's letters to Fanny K, the only thing she complains about opium is its smell! I'm using my brother's computer, and I don't have Fanny's book of letters, so I can't cite the letter number. In case any of you are interested, when I come over tonight, I'll bring the book and let those interested read more specific opinions of Fanny's.
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Saturn » Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:37 pm

I agree with all of this Ennis except the bipolar diagnosis. I've known and spent a lot of time with people with bipolar disease and have had and continue to have personal experience of mental health problems and from all I've read of Keats life and behaviour I see no signs that he was in any way bipolar - bipolar is as very difficult condition to diagnose but has a very specific episodic nature of prolonged periods of hyperactivity and inactivity, extreme highs for weeks, months at a time and crippling lows forking periods too, and although Keats' life had its ups and downs I don't see a pattern that would indicate bipolar disorder.

There is no question however that he experienced bad bouts of low self-esteem, paranoia and depression though, and he may have used opium, and alcohol etc to combat those as many people did and have always done.
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby BrokenLyre » Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:42 am

Who has not been depressed at times? Keats experienced many of the things that all humans experience - but I think he was able to face and explore those experiences in a far bigger way than most. Think of his letters. Think of his comments about exploring those "dark passages" (from Wordsworth, not exact quote). Some people are just more reflective, introspective and aware of their responses to life than others. Keats was extraordinarily sensitive to his experiences (birds on window sills, flowers blooming, nature, illness with brother, comments on "spoil hours" due to sickness of somebody, "Circumstances are like clouds, continually gathering and bursting..while the seed of some trouble...." - my point is that while everybody experiences pain, loss, illness, some people reflect far more deeply upon them - and Keats was one of them. I have all his letters and poems and I see nothing resembling mental illness (which was in my own family). The spectrum of "normalcy" is wide.
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Ravenwing » Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:20 pm

Adieu.
Last edited by Ravenwing on Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby BrokenLyre » Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:24 am

Interesting...but I tried tobacco a number times in different ways - never got addicted. Quit easily. Never went back. And I was a kid. My brother was into cocaine (as a teen), never got addicted. Quit and never went back. Just saying that it is entirely possible to try addictive substances but not be addictive. Happens all the time. Not everyone who tries heroine is addicted either. (Small percentage of course, but it happens). Who really knows what Keats was doing? Different era, different view of acceptable medicine too.
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Cath » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:46 pm

Another review of Roe's Keats biography, this time from The Nation:

http://www.thenation.com/article/172072/irritable-reachings-john-keats#
"Why should we be owls, when we can be Eagles?" (Keats to Reynolds, 3 February 1818)
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Ennis » Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:00 am

Hey, guys!
I've just started Roe's biography from cover-to-cover. As I posted earlier, I have skimmed parts of it, but have realized I need to "get down to business," and read it from beginning to end!
I just want to share some phrases/sentences that affected me when I read them (all underscoring and bold type are my own):

"Few English poets are more widely admired, or more likely to divide opinion."
"Matthew Arnold came to praise a great poet, and found an underbred sensualist." (My underscoring!)
"Yet these consummate portraits of genius do not much resemble the feckless orphan (again, my underscoring), 'five feet hight (sic),' whom
Geoffrey Matthews once claimed was a 'classic case history of a delinquent.' " FECKLESS orphan! I'd say Keats was far from being worthless, and shame
on you, Geoffrey Matthews, for referring to Keats as a "delinquent"!!
". . . and we can sense how those formative deprivations may have shaped the intense ambition and forlorn awareness of his poems." Forlorn
awareness: I like that phrase.
"Poetry for Keats was from the first to last a means of resistance, a way to stand his ground."
". . . there is a very good case for keeping a more traditional narrative structure for a writer like - though there is no one like him - John
Keats."
"Looking at him through others' eyes cannot make silences speak, although the scarcity of personal effects known to have belonged to him tells us of
his rootless, and often homeless, way of life. For Keats, dispossession was what mattered, and his response was not to amass property but to
cultivate supportive circles of brothers and friends who would nurture his rage after fame." We all, I think, would agree with Roe's
comment about Keats's rootlessness, homelessness, and his "rage for fame," but to read it as such makes it more real - to me, anyway.
"We read to know what being Keats felt like . . . ." My God, how true that statement is!
" 'Was I born for this end?' he asked Brown in a letter from Naples. There is nothing that can better explain this remorseless intelligence, . . ."

Thanks for your patience . . . . no one in my home really cares about Keats and his impact on me. They all are aware of my "harmless obsession," but if I mention anything about him, I just know those three pairs of eyeballs roll in those heads. My 6 year old grandson, believe it or not, is the only one who seems to make an effort to understand (he thought for the longest time that Fanny Brawne's name was "Bright Star"!).
"But if you will fully love me, though there may be some fire, 'twill not be more than we can bear when moistened and bedewed with Pleasures." JK to FB 08.07.1819
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Cath » Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:34 pm

Ennis wrote: "We read to know what being Keats felt like . . . ." My God, how true that statement is!


Yes, yes, yes! This is absolutely true. I met someone in Hamspstead relatively recently and we got chatting about literature and in particular about Keats. And he said something like "Of all the poets and writers, I get the feeling that Keats was a genuinely nice person who it would have been a pleasure to have known". Reading Keats's poetry, his letters and biographies of his life enables us - psychologically, emotionally, imaginatively - to inhabit that intense intelligence, "forlorn awareness" and sensuous sensitivity - however fleetingly, however dreamily.

I had mixed to positive feelings about the Roe biography. I think some parts of Keats's life (e.g. his childhood) he described very well and gently. But other aspects were handled haphazardly, I thought - the opium question, for example, or the suggestion of fetal alcohol syndrome, i.e. that the alcohol consumption of the poet's mother may have led to Keats's having an anatomically larger head than otherwise.
"Why should we be owls, when we can be Eagles?" (Keats to Reynolds, 3 February 1818)
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Re: NEW BIOGRAPHY!

Postby Raphael » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:13 pm

And he said something like "Of all the poets and writers, I get the feeling that Keats was a genuinely nice person who it would have been a pleasure to have known".


Said as much myself- you only have to look at how many friends he had and how devastated they were when he passed on.
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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