Keats's Endymion: A Critical Edition

By John Keats; Stephen T. Steinhoff | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
Biographical Background

Keats began Endymion in April, 1817. He had wanted to write a metrical romance for some time, and with the publication of Hunt The Story of Rimini in 1816 came an irrepressible desire for emulation. Keats's deep interest in the relation between sleep and poetry naturally led him to the fable of Endymion, which he had toyed with in I Stood Tip-toe. Though barren of circumstance, this story of a dreamy, indolent youth beloved of Phoebe, who sleeps (or dies) into immortal life, could provide Keats with an ideal vehicle for a personal allegory. 4 Now "with Child of glorious great intent," he was ready, or at least determined, to spin a long romance out of it:

. . . it will be a test, a trial of my Powers of Imagination and chiefly of my invention which is a rare thing indeed -- by which I must make 4000 Lines of one bare circumstance and fill them with Poetry; and when I consider that this is a great task, and that when done it will take me but a dozen paces towards the Temple of Fame -- it makes me say -- God forbid that I should be without such a task. I have heard Hunt say and may be asked -- why endeavour after a long Poem? To which I should answer -- Do not the Lovers of Poetry like to have a little Region to wander in where they may pick and choose, and in which the images are so numerous that many are forgotten and found new in a second Reading. . . ? ( Letters I, 169-70)

Conceived with the urgency of a vocational crisis, Keats's heroic task, then, was to be a kind of initiation rite into poethood, a search for evidence of election. It would be a "test" of his poetic powers and of the truth of his dream of poetic fame, where the test was as difficult as the dream was lofty. To make this Herculean labor even more difficult Keats added an un-

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Keats's Endymion: A Critical Edition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Abbreviations viii
  • Introduction Biographical Background 1
  • Notes 50
  • Endymion: Text and Notes 57
  • Preface 58
  • Book I 59
  • Book II 84
  • Book II 109
  • Book II 135
  • Notes to Book I 160
  • Notes to Book II 197
  • Notes to Book II 218
  • Notes to Book II 234
  • The Original Dedication and Preface 259
  • Review in the Champion 261
  • Croker's Attack in the Quarterly Review 265
  • Reynold's Reply to Croker in the Examiner 270
  • Patmore's Review in the London Magazine 276
  • Bibliography of References Cited 293
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