- Agreed, Belle...
I am reading the biography "Darkling I
Listen" and it's pretty good so far. I have
a question...out of all the Keats biogs
you guys have read, which do you think
best represents his life?
I have many, many books about Keats
& was just wondering what you think.
- I LOVE "Darkling I Listen." I raved about it for months after I read
it (hey, I still am!). . . had to restrain myself from crying at the
end. . . It's very well written, almost story-like in some places
rather than strictly biographical, even though all the information
itself is true.
As for biographies in general, I've never really read one all the way
through other than "Darkling." I have the Motion biography, which is
extremely long and tedious in parts, but it's good as a reference,
and I've skimmed through parts of the Gittings (which, I've heard, is
one of the best), though this one is relatively hard to find except
for in large libraries. I did, however, read a very interesting
biography on Keats' sister, Fanny, which had some really great
interesting (including two photos, which I have included in the photo
section here in the group) that I've not found elsewhere, about not
only Keats, but Fanny Brawne and other important figures in the Keats
world, like Richard Abbey, Severn, etc. This one's even harder to
find (it was published in the late 1930s. . . the author actually met
with Fanny's grandchildren in Madrid), but it's a must-read if you
can get your hands on it.
As for which best represents his life, I think it's hard to tell. I
think every biographer has a different opinion of Keats depending on
when the biography was written. The earlier biographies probably
take on the more Victorian idea of the "poor, sensitive, helpless
Keats," where the more modern biographers have driven to eradicate
this opinion (and have almost gone too far in doing so). I think
that for the best overall picture, you need to get a healthy mix of
different views. So, the more you read, the more information you
get, and the better you are able to deduce your own opinion. I know
that, at least in my experience, the more you start looking for
sources not necessarily directly ABOUT Keats, you find the most
interesting information (the Fanny Keats book, for example). There's
also a book called "The Immortal Dinner" by Penelope Hughes-Hallet
that is essentially about Haydon, but contains interesting tidbits
about Keats that, interestingly enough, I've not found elsewhere (for
example, the true origin of Hunt's nickname for him, "Junkets"). In
fact, I believe it is the Fanny K biography in which the author,
Marie Adami, states that there is much more information out there
than biographers are writing (well, this WAS in the 1930s, but I've
got to believe that not a whole lot has changed in that arena).
Whether these biographers just aren't looking beyond established
institutions and sources for their information, or still have that
Victorian penchant for protecting "poor Keats" by suppressing
information, I am not sure. Still, the fact remains that for the
most complete picture of who Keats was, we need to go beyond Motion
and Gittings and whoever else has written a relatively well-known
Thanks for starting us off with a topic, Kane!
Yes, I am in the middle of "Darkling" and one I have read all the way
through is Aileen Warden's "The Making of a Poet". I have the ones by
Gittings, one by Bate, one by Coote, the Andrew Motion book and some
others whose authors I don't know off-hand. Ward's was quite good, not
as tedious as Motion's.
I have biogs on Shelley as well, and one of my favourites (by Andre
Maurois, is it?) plays out like a storybook. It is called "Ariel: the
life of Shelley". Many of my Shelley books are old or antique, usually
aquired from old bookstores right here in my city.
Hey, have you heard of the "Days with the Poets" series...VERY old,
possibly late-1800s...I have Shelley's, which plays out like a story,
as well (I find that, yes, many of the old books do tend to play out
like stories). There is one for Keats & Byron, plus a few others.
BTW, Gitting's biog was just re-printed and should be in bookstores
now. I had bought the new re-print but found a much older edition in a
bookstore which I bought, as well. I like the older ones.
- There's a reprint of the Gittings bio? When did it come out? I did
a search on Amazon with only the original coming up.
I'll have to check Barnes and Noble or Borders when I get home.
Thanks for the tip.
- Yes, the latest reprint is 2001, the
publisher is "Classic Biography".
Should be on Amazon.com, Barnes &
Noble (US) and chapters.indigo.ca
- Hmmmm. . . still no result on either Amazon or bn.com. Maybe I'll
check with the bookstore when I get home. Otherwise, I can always
just go searching for an old copy :-)