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Darkling I Listen: The Last Days and Death of John Keats Hardcover – October 15, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 1st edition (October 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312222556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312222550
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The last year of Keats's life, 1820, was a time of great triumph and, as Walsh writes in this gripping but irritatingly melodramatic book, one of great pain. The year before, he had written such extraordinary works of literature as "On a Grecian Urn," "To a Nightingale," "On Melancholy" and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," and when those poems appeared, in July 1820, they were immediately hailed by the British press. But by that time, Keats was already coughing up blood, having contracted, in February of that year, the tuberculosis that was to kill him. In September, accompanied by Joseph Severn, a loyal friend and a painter who in joining the poet damaged his chances of winning a prestigious fellowship, Keats sailed to Rome, where he installed himself in a room overlooking the famous Spanish Steps, hoping to get well, soon preparing to die. Walsh, whose previous books include Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, draws back the curtain on the 100 days that followed, a long sad scene that has only been glimpsed in other biographies. He is adept at explaining Keats's passions and the deep-rooted morbidity that may have played a role in his much debated relationship with Fanny Brawne, Keats's young lover. Walsh's prose can be grandiloquently banal, but he does evoke the scene, and the reader will be relieved to learn that the pseudo-poetic narration is accomplished without poetic license, as even such phrases as "the morning sun glinting off the houses" comes directly from the description of a witness. Walsh is evenhanded and convincing in his account of Keats's last days, a chapter of literary history that certainly belongs on shelves alongside the classic tragedies. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Walsh (Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allen Poe) believes that the last days and death of John Keats have never been thoroughly documented or interpreted. Here he reexamines Keats's relationship with his great love, Fanny Brawne; his connection with religion; and the diagnosis and treatment of his illness. When Keats became ill, his doctor sent him to Rome with a companion, John Severn, to recover from what may or may not have been consumption. It was, at the time, theorized that Keats was made sick by his consuming need to write poetry and his jealous and possessive love of that seemingly shallow and outrageous flirt, Fanny. Drawing on the 39 letters from Keats to Fanny (along with a few written by Severn and friends), Walsh argues that Keats's love for Fanny did inspire his poetry, which in turn led to his everlasting literary fameAbut that Keats probably died of consumption just the same. Of particular interest, as well, is Walsh's profile of Severn, who stood by and served Keats throughout his incapacitating confinement. Of benefit to anyone who wants to know more about John Keats, this book is recommended for public and academic libraries.ARobert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A. P. Larson on May 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Love may not kill, but it can certainly give you a smart shove down that road. Walsh's vivid, neatly researched book gives us a new look at the one whose name was writ on water and his curious agonies over the girl he would have married. Keats, impassioned, gifted, doomed, is even so not gilded here; from the surviving materials he is revealed as intense, a bit obsessive, and never more so than concerning Fanny Brawne. This is one of the most famed loves in history, freshly examined with the fairest look to date at Fanny's equally complicated character. Whether they take place in British rooms or Roman, the dramas within are drawn with lively and poignant detail. Special care is taken, too, to give Joseph Severn the full credit due for his constant vigil at Keats' long dying. To me, Severn's character was by far the most appealing, and Walsh's story left me certain that a steady, loving heart is genius of its own kind.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By camm on February 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It is so amazing that in a career lasting only four years, John Keats established himself as English poet who best embodied the sense and ideas of Romantic poetry. That his short life was cut off at such a young age was a tragedy in the sense of all the unwritten works that could have flowed from his pen, but even so, he achieved his life ambition of being "one of the English poets".
Darkling I Listen is an incredibly moving account of the last days of this most tragic (and most romantic) of poets. From his passionate letters to Fanny Brawne to his last moments under the care of his truest friend Joseph Severn, this story will wring your heart.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia L. Mclendon on March 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book really is a little jewel -beautifully researched and written and incredibly moving. Keats is vividly portrayed, and , as the previous reviewer noted, Joseph Severn is given his due as the best person Keats could have had with him in his dying days. Severn was a devout Christian, according to Walsh, and his life after Keats' death exemplified the Christian belief that if you give selflessly, you will receive... Just have a box of tissues handy while reading this book...
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