Whitbread Prize-winning biographer Andrew Motion (Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life
) aims to broaden our understanding of John Keats (1795-1821) by paying close attention to the historical context in which he wrote and the political opinions he voiced. The poet was "of a sceptical and republican school," Motion argues, and Keats's work reflected his experiences "not just as a private individual, but socially and politically as well." This bracing reinterpretation stresses the vigor of Keats's character as well as his verse, burying for good the sentimental cliché of a sickly dreamer concerned only with art for art's sake.
From Library Journal
Motion's previous work, Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (LJ 8/93), won Britain's Whitebread Prize. In his new book, he has re-created the life of the poet John Keats (1795-1821) through insightful observation and narrative clarity often lacking in such a scholarly work. Keats was orphaned as a boy, trained as a doctor before becoming a poet, and died in Rome at age 25. Immediately after his death, Shelley mythologized him in the elegy "Adonais," which helped create the myth of Keats as the quintessential poet. In this original biography, however, Motion has provided a thorough examination of the social, familial, political, and financial forces that shaped the real man rather than the poet of myth. One highlight is a discussion of the factors in Keats's short but productive life that influenced themes prevalent in his poetry, such as beauty and healing. Recommended for large public libraries and all academic libraries.?Kim Woodbridge, Athenaeum of Philadelphia
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