Forever Young: A Life of John Keats

Forever Young: A Life of John Keats

Forever Young: A Life of John Keats

Forever Young: A Life of John Keats

Excerpt

This biography of John Keats, a contribution to the sesquicentennial of his birth (1795-1945), attempts to revivify the poet as he was in everyday life, and grows from his letters-- with the aid of notes to or about him--rather than from his poems. No criticism is embodied except that associated with his imagined point of view.

When the idea occurred to me of a book presenting him in his own times, without regard to all the years since 1821, I marveled that nobody had written such a Life. Playwright and novelist but no biographer had chosen the small space bounding his years, placed an invisible chair somewhere near Keats and sat therein to record something of how he spent his days in thought and act. Even if it were possible, to report the whole of that brief life would overflow the limits of one volume; so I begin with him at twenty-one and a half years, immediately after the publication of his first volume of poems and, shuttling backward now and then through his memory or a dialogue with a contemporary, progress to the end, not quite four years later.

The fewer than one hundred letters known to and published wholly or partly by Richard Monckton Milnes (later Lord Houghton) has increased to nearly two hundred and fifty in Maurice Buxton Forman The Letters of John Keats. Many of these I have read in the original script, but for convenience, since my aim is not a textual consideration of the documents, I have relied mainly upon Mr. Forman's collection. Most of the letters were published by his father . . .

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