By Li Ou
"Negative capability", the time period John Keats used just once in a letter to his brothers, is a widely known yet unusually unexplored inspiration in literary feedback and aesthetics. This publication is the 1st book-length research of this important suggestion in seventy years. in addition to clarifying the which means of the time period and giving an anatomy of its key elements, the publication provides a whole account of the heritage of this concept. It strains the narrative of ways the word first turned recognized and progressively won forex, and explores its basic resources in previous writers, largely Shakespeare and William Hazlitt, and its leader Modernist successors, W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot. in the meantime, the time period can also be utilized to Keats's personal poetry, which manifests the evolution of the assumption in Keats's poetic perform. a number of the comparative readings of the correct texts, together with King Lear, light up the interconnections among those significant writers. The publication is an unique and important piece of scholarship in this celebrated concept.
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Additional info for Keats and Negative Capability (Continuum Literary Studies)
It really is retrospective, with the narrating self on reflection at the narrated self dealing with the entire struggles on his poetic trip, from ‘Sleep and Poetry’ to Endymion, directly to the 1st Hyperion and the good odes. however it can be prospective,7 as a imaginative and prescient ‘straining at debris of sunshine in the middle of a good darkness’ (KL II:80), searching for how one can make the self a real tragic poet, ‘a depressing and potent Poet of the human center’ like his presider. because the such a lot ‘autobiographical’ of Keats’s poems, it additionally so much lucidly decrees that the self develop into a non-egotistical poet, a ‘physician to all men’. in part as a result of this contradiction, the recast epic was once back left unfinished. yet on the time whilst he determined to desert it, he composed ‘To Autumn’, a poem during which the self of the poet is totally effaced, and therefore in a feeling complete what he has decreed for himself within the unfinished epic. The revised epic opens with an induction which already speaks of it as a posthumous paintings: ‘Whether the dream now purposed to rehearse / Be poet’s or fanatic’s could be recognized / while this hot scribe my hand is within the grave’ (I:16–18). The induction hence defines the point of view of the narrator to be retrospective, so the flashback within the narrative additionally symbolizes the poet’s mirrored image on his previous poetic profession. The narrated ‘I’ first unearths himself in ‘an arbour’ (I:25), emblematic of his early poetry encapsulated within the surroundings of a Spenserian ‘Bower’, after which sees ‘a banquet’ (I:29), suggesting the recollection of his romances the place a banquet first precedes the consummation of affection and later simply forebodes disillusionment. It now turns into the ‘refuse of a meal’ (I:30), now not bountiful and indulgent as his former feasts, simply because the realm of vegetation and Pan has develop into the ‘faery lands forlorn’ in his personal poetry. however the poet nonetheless beverages from the remnants, and the juice makes him ‘swoon’ (I:55), as all his personae have fallen into sleep prior to being endowed with a imaginative and prescient of good looks or of horror. The poet then sees the altar and the stairs, the place he gets the oracle that calls for his ascension of the stairs with the specter of demise. Recapitulating Apollo, who has to ‘die into lifestyles’ because the god of poetry, the poet undergoes the purgatorial ordeal for his aspiration to the better realm of poetry facing ‘the agonies’ and ‘the strife of human hearts’. in contrast to Apollo who then turns into ‘celestial’, the human poet in simple terms ‘dated on / [his] doom’ (I:144–5) after facing the trials of mortality. With seeing his conductress, ‘the veiled shadow’ (I:141) of Moneta, the poet has reached the brink of data that Apollo arrives at ahead of facing his ‘immortal death’. whereas Apollo looked for the information of this global, the poet first seeks from Moneta self-knowledge: ‘What am I that are supposed to so be sav’d from loss of life? ’ (I:138). Moneta’s following answer and the narrated poet’s self-defence hence act out the narrating poet’s self-enquiry approximately his function as a poet, which additionally recasts the fierce debate concerning the worth of poetic mind's eye occurring during the spring odes.