This landmark biography of celebrated Romantic poet John Keats explodes entrenched conceptions of him as a delicate, overly sensitive, tragic figure. Instead, Nicholas Roe reveals the real flesh-and-blood poet: a passionate man driven by ambition but prey to doubt, suspicion, and jealousy; sure of his vocation while bitterly resentful of the obstacles that blighted his career; devoured by sexual desire and frustration; and in thrall to alcohol and opium. Through unparalleled original research, Roe arrives at a fascinating reassessment of Keats' entire life, from his early years at Keates's Livery Stables through his harrowing battle with tuberculosis and death at the age of 25. Focusing on crucial turning points, Roe finds in the locations of Keats' poems new keys to the nature of his imaginative quest. Roe is the first biographer to provide a full and fresh account of Keats' childhood in the City of London and how it shaped the would-be poet. The mysterious early death of Keats' father, his mother's too-swift remarriage, living in the shadow of the notorious madhouse Bedlam - all these affected Keats far more than has been previously understood. The author also sheds light on Keats' doomed passion for Fanny Brawne, his circle of brilliant friends, hitherto unknown City relatives, and much more. Filled with revelations and daring to ask new questions, this book now stands as the definitive volume on one of the most beloved poets of the English language. On Saturday 20 October at 4pm the Keats-Shelley House will be hosting the official launch of Nicholas Roe's John Keats: A New Life, published by Yale University Press. Format:
04 Sep 2012
384 pages: 234 x 156mm
60 black-&-white illustrations
ohn Keats, the iconic romantic poet, was a drug addict and consumed opium to "keep up his spirits" while writing some of his most famous poems, a contentious new biography has claimed.The claim is made in the new biography John Keats – A New Life, to be published tomorrow, by Professor Nicholas Roe, chair of the Keats Foundation and a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.Roe admitted that his finding will be contentious. "This has never been said before: Keats as an opium addict is new," he said.
John Keats, the poet of "beauty", a devotee of aesthetic isolation who swooned at the thought of his so-called "bright star" Fanny Brawne (his financee) and succumbed to TB when he was 25, was an opium addict, the biography said.Roe, professor of English literature at the University of St Andrews, dismissed other experts who have previously concluded that Keats only briefly experimented with the drug, the Guardian reported.The former poet laureate Andrew Motion, winner of the Whitbread prize for biography and author of a biography of the poet, has said, Roe made "assumptions" about Keats and his use of opiates that "simply have no warrant"."Andrew Motion's line was that (Keats' close friend) Charles Brown warned Keats about the 'danger of such a habit' and asked Keats to promise 'never to take another drop without (his) knowledge'," Roe said."But on no evidence that I can find, Motion surmises that 'Keats did as he was told'," Roe added."My biography takes the contrary view that the spring of 1819 was not only one of Keats's most productive periods but also his most heavily opiated," Roe said."He continued dosing himself to relieve his chronically sore throat; and that opium-induced mental instability helps to explain his jealous and vindictive mood swings regarding Fanny Brawne," Roe added.Roe claimed that after using the drug to relieve the chronic sore throat, he continued taking opium to "keep up his spirits".Motion said he has "admiring feelings" about Roe's book, which he has read, and agreed it is "possible that (Roe) is right about this even though I said differently in my book".However, he added, "it is quite...
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