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Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography

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Posthumous Keats is the result of Stanley Plumly's twenty years of reflection on the enduring afterlife of one of England's greatest Romanticists. John Keats's famous epitaph—"Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water"—helped cement his reputation as the archetype of the genius cut off before his time. Keats, dead of tuberculosis at twenty-five, saw his mortality as fatal Posthumous Keats is the result of Stanley Plumly's twenty years of reflection on the enduring afterlife of one of England's greatest Romanticists. John Keats's famous epitaph—"Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water"—helped cement his reputation as the archetype of the genius cut off before his time. Keats, dead of tuberculosis at twenty-five, saw his mortality as fatal to his poetry, and therein, Plumly argues, lies his tragedy: Keats thought he had failed in his mission "to be among the English poets."In this close narrative study, Plumly meditates on the chances for poetic immortality—an idea that finds its purest expression in Keats, whose poetic influence remains immense. Incisive in its observations and beautifully written, Posthumous Keats is an ode to an unsuspecting young poet—a man who, against the odds of his culture and critics, managed to achieve the unthinkable: the elevation of the lyric poem to sublime and tragic status.


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Posthumous Keats is the result of Stanley Plumly's twenty years of reflection on the enduring afterlife of one of England's greatest Romanticists. John Keats's famous epitaph—"Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water"—helped cement his reputation as the archetype of the genius cut off before his time. Keats, dead of tuberculosis at twenty-five, saw his mortality as fatal Posthumous Keats is the result of Stanley Plumly's twenty years of reflection on the enduring afterlife of one of England's greatest Romanticists. John Keats's famous epitaph—"Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water"—helped cement his reputation as the archetype of the genius cut off before his time. Keats, dead of tuberculosis at twenty-five, saw his mortality as fatal to his poetry, and therein, Plumly argues, lies his tragedy: Keats thought he had failed in his mission "to be among the English poets."In this close narrative study, Plumly meditates on the chances for poetic immortality—an idea that finds its purest expression in Keats, whose poetic influence remains immense. Incisive in its observations and beautifully written, Posthumous Keats is an ode to an unsuspecting young poet—a man who, against the odds of his culture and critics, managed to achieve the unthinkable: the elevation of the lyric poem to sublime and tragic status.

30 review for Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    I just recently finished Stanley Plumly’s Posthumous Keats, which was quite a good read. The book is part biography, part memoir, part literary criticism. Specifically, the book covers the last 18 months of Keats’s life and beyond, the moment from his first hemorrhage to final days in Rome. Each chapter covers in detail an aspect of Keats’s posthumous existence. For example, the first chapter deals with the epitaph on Keats’s tomb in the protestant cemetery in Rome. Keats wanted only “Here lies I just recently finished Stanley Plumly’s Posthumous Keats, which was quite a good read. The book is part biography, part memoir, part literary criticism. Specifically, the book covers the last 18 months of Keats’s life and beyond, the moment from his first hemorrhage to final days in Rome. Each chapter covers in detail an aspect of Keats’s posthumous existence. For example, the first chapter deals with the epitaph on Keats’s tomb in the protestant cemetery in Rome. Keats wanted only “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” But Joseph Severn and Charles Brown (the former nursed Keats in his final illness in Rome, the latter was a close friend who was with Keats at the time of his first hemorrhage) modified and altered Keats’s original epitaph to today’s version: This Grave contains all that was mortal of YOUNG ENGLISH POET who on his Death Bed in the Bitterness of his Heart at the Malicious Power of his Enemies Desired these words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone “Here lies One whose name was writ in Water.” Feb 24th 1821 What Plumly reveals is the whole context for this modification, how the modifications represent more the desires and assumptions of Severn and Brown than Keats, how these sentiments fed and made legendary the common assumption that Keats was killed by the harsh critical response to his poetry. Here in 2008 to fathom that Keats has not always been among the “immortals” of poetry is nearly impossible. For three-quarters of a century, Keats remained obscure, that “poor poet Keats.” Interestingly, Keats thought he was a poet to be forgotten because he had never completed a masterpiece of epic poetry in the vein of the Homer, Dante, and so on. He viewed his odes, which we consider his masterworks, but forgettable poems. His longer poems (e.g., “The Eve of St. Agnes”) were higher up the rung. But his Endymion, Hyperion, and The Fall of Hyperion were not successes, in his eyes. When I first read the Romantics, Shelley was my idol. I labored over his poems, sought ever delight from them. Shelley was the Romantic poet. Keats was of interest, but not so inspiring. But slowly my view changed. Keats has become the premier Romantic poet. Shelley spoke to the public, railed against injustice, reflected on our purpose within society and to each other. Keats, however, speaks to himself and by doing so speaks to us as individuals. He does not care to comment on freedom or coercive state power; rather, he wishes to contemplate the nature of beauty before him or the impression of a translation of Homer. Keats achieves through this a greater connection to us than Shelley, though a great poet, can in the end only achieve less frequently and on a smaller scale. Keats is of the imagination; Shelley is of the society. But back to Plumly’s book. Other chapters contemplate the various drawings and paintings of Keats (Severn’s, Brown’s, and Haydon’s in particular) or the progression of tuberculosis and how it was viewed by the medicine of the day. This book is enjoyable, insightful, and surprising. If you are interested in a fresh review of Keats’s work and life and the value of his poetry and the nature of an artist’s search for immortality, give this book a read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brian Willis

    This gem of a book is one of the best books I've read about Keats (or any other poet for that matter). Plumly, a poet himself, meditates on Keats's life while supplying insight into key moments of his creative mind. While not a straight linear biography from cradle to grave, it does follow a chronological order of key moments and poetic development, primarily the moments of Keats's poetic prime from 1818-1821. Without taking too much away from those yet to read, Plumly focuses on the "posthumous This gem of a book is one of the best books I've read about Keats (or any other poet for that matter). Plumly, a poet himself, meditates on Keats's life while supplying insight into key moments of his creative mind. While not a straight linear biography from cradle to grave, it does follow a chronological order of key moments and poetic development, primarily the moments of Keats's poetic prime from 1818-1821. Without taking too much away from those yet to read, Plumly focuses on the "posthumous" aspect of Keats's existence. Keats once remarked that he felt he was living a posthumous existence, meaning that after his tuberculosis became apparent, Keats lived fully knowing, as he was studying to be a physician, that consumption would be fatal to him. Indeed, what makes Keats's letters and personal life so agonizing are those final two years of his life, living in the shadow of mortality. Combined with Plumly's masterly usage of the Keats metaphor of negative capability (living or balancing two contrary ideas at the same time without striving to explain or deny either), we understand that Keats was living and dying at the same time, and realizing the same fate for his poetry as he did so. I was rather obsessed with the final chapters on his death (who isn't enthralled of hearing the sad details of those final days?) and the posthumous-to-Keats revival of his poetry in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. I also loved the Winchester chapter, in which Keats tries to overcome consumption through a change in scenery, and writes "Ode to Autumn." This might be Plumly's best chapter. If you are obsessed with Keats, as I am, this is a must read. If you simply enjoyed his poetry in the past, this and/or a couple of other more extensive biographies (Bates, Ward, Gittings, and possibly a few from the last two decades) would all serve to fill the Keats biography spot in your reading. Top notch book that will enjoy a place in my library for years to come.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diann Blakely

    Twenty years in the making, Plumly's exquisite book dips and swoops through the different periods in Keats' short life like one of his subject's great odes. If you remember the nightingale-inspired reverie into which the poet drifts until "Forlorn! the very word is like a bell" tolls him back to "[his] sole self," you'll have a good sense of the way Plumly's biography moves. There are several other excellent studies of Keats, from Jackson Bate's to Aileen Ward's to Helen Vendler's. Yet this is th Twenty years in the making, Plumly's exquisite book dips and swoops through the different periods in Keats' short life like one of his subject's great odes. If you remember the nightingale-inspired reverie into which the poet drifts until "Forlorn! the very word is like a bell" tolls him back to "[his] sole self," you'll have a good sense of the way Plumly's biography moves. There are several other excellent studies of Keats, from Jackson Bate's to Aileen Ward's to Helen Vendler's. Yet this is the only one that could have been written by a poet, and one whose ear is sharply attuned to Keats' music of empathy, made personal and explicit in "Ode to a Nightingale" when he commemorates his brother Tom, whom he nursed only to contract the tuberculosis that killed them both. (originally published in *The Tennesssean*, 2008)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elevate Difference

    I think I shall be among the English Poets after my death. - John Keats to his brother George. Here lies one whose name was writ in water. - Keats’s epitaph, written by him just before he died John Keats is the epitome—ah, alas!—of the genius artist who died too young. The ravage of tuberculosis felled him early after he wrote his immortal poems and—equally immortal—a large collection of the most illuminating, often funny and quick-witted, and astonishingly modern letters ever penned. As the epistle I think I shall be among the English Poets after my death. - John Keats to his brother George. Here lies one whose name was writ in water. - Keats’s epitaph, written by him just before he died John Keats is the epitome—ah, alas!—of the genius artist who died too young. The ravage of tuberculosis felled him early after he wrote his immortal poems and—equally immortal—a large collection of the most illuminating, often funny and quick-witted, and astonishingly modern letters ever penned. As the epistles show, he was noble of character without being the least starched, though he could be thorny when faced with political injustice, tedious company, or second-rate poetry. Keats was born in 1795. In September of 1820, he sailed to Italy on a gamble, hoping to affect his recovery in a dry and sunny climate, instead of the certain death that awaited him in one more damp, bone-chilling British winter. He died in Rome in February of 1821, attended by one devoted friend, in a house right next to the Spanish Steps. This house, at 26 Piazza di Spagna, is now the Keats-Shelley Museum. Between the two quotations that begin this review there are about three years. The confidence Keats shows in the first quote about his skill as a poet seems utterly vanished by the time he dictates the words that will appear on his tombstone. And yet in the brief span that separates them, Keats writes the “Ode to a Nightingale”, the “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, and the ode “To Autumn.” There is nothing to choose among the odes, though it could be said that "To Autumn"—only three stanzas of eleven lines each and employing an omniscient voice—may be the finest lyric poem ever written. It makes most lyric poems seem crabbed and dwarfed because the ode transcends the limitations of the genre to become nearly an epic in terms of its content—its created space—despite its material brevity. Stanley Plumly devotes a number of excellent pages to this poem. These pages are alone worth the price of admission to his book. The odes are gorgeous in imagery, profound in idea, and beyond compare in terms of their musicality, craft, and poetic achievement. Keats wrote these poems in a bunch, with others as well, between spring and fall of 1819. It was his last, fantastic spurt of creative energy before his first TB haemorrhage in the early winter of 1820. He had nursed his mother and his brother to their premature ends with the same disease, so when he saw his own blood on the pillow, he knew it was a "death warrant" (his words). Perhaps only Shakespeare is consistently Keats’s equal as an English poet, and Keats may have the upper hand in lyric sense. He also wrote “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” and “When I have fears that I might cease to be”, two of the greatest sonnets written not just in English, but in that structure, period, and the structure has a seven-hundred-year history in half a dozen languages. So long as one person left in the world can read English and loves poetry, Keats’s verse will endure. Stanley Plumly’s superb new book about Keats’s work and travails is not biography, although it contains many biographical details. It is more, as he says, a work of “reflection, contemplation, meditation” and is circular rather than linear in narrative. Centrally, it is about Keats’s “posthumous life.” Keats himself coined the phrase. He referred to the last months of his life as his posthumous existence. It didn’t always seem likely that we would still read Keats 187 years after his death. It fact, it didn’t seem likely at all. Though he knew Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Shelley, the other British poets of the Romantic era, his first book had been savaged by a right-wing critic (Keats held liberal views). The book of his poems published in 1820 containing the famous odes received good notices, but by then Keats was slipping away and had essentially ceased writing. A story began that the vicious notice of his first book was what initiated Keats's decline, that he was tainted unto death by the review. Thus, his disease was due to a weak, oversensitive mind. This lie was abetted by the fact that nothing was understood of TB at the time. Germ theory was unknown, and TB was just one of the "wasting" diseases such as cancer, syphilis, and depression. Several doctors, including a "pulmonary specialist", diagnosed Keats and determined that his mind and stomach were what ailed him. On his death, a partial autopsy was performed. Nothing remained of his lungs but a blackened cavity. The attending physician could not fathom how Keats had lived so long. Plumly traces this story and also depicts how Keats was "beautified" by posterity, especially by his friends, in images painted of him in oil and prose, often long after his death. He was idealized as the "dew-eyed-poet" and botoxed to be made "generic and saleable." Keats, says Plumly, became "a rumour of himself, passed along into immortality through central casting." The adjective "poor" became the preferred way to describe him, as in "poor Keats." This severely diminished the extraordinarily animated, energetic, and intelligent person Keats was before TB struck him down. These same friends, convinced of his genius, promised themselves and each other that they would write a biography of him. Instead of doing so, they quarreled over his literary remains, as well as what would be inscribed on his tombstone. It was not until well toward the end of the nineteenth century that the first full biography appeared and Keats’s reputation grew. By then, all his old friends were dead. Beyond the odes and letters, Keats is justly renowned for his critical acumen, the poetic romances (“The Eve of St Agnes” is the best example), and some graceful, highly quotable abstractions such as “A thing of beauty is a joy forever:/Its loveliness increases; It will never/Pass into nothingness.” He could also incise a small, unforgettable image with the best of them. To illustrate, and to brighten your day in conclusion, following are a few lines from his poem "I Stood Tip-toe." He observes minnows basking in warm sunlight that falls on a clear, cold stream. Particularly adept and economical in expression is the way the minnows disappear in a flick at the shadow of a hand – and just as suddenly reappear. Keats accomplishes this kinetic portrait deftly in rhymed couplets, not the most flexible poetic form in which to achieve naturalness and nimbleness of voice. …Where swarms of minnows show their little heads, Staying their wavy bodies 'gainst the streams, To taste the luxury of sunny beams Temper'd with coolness. How they ever wrestle With their own sweet delight, and ever nestle Their silver bellies on the pebbly sand. If you but scantily hold out the hand, That very instant not one will remain; But turn your eye, and there they are again. Review by Neil Flowers

  5. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    My experience reading Posthumous Keats vacillated between the typical voyeuristic satisfaction of anyone reading a biography, as well as a deep engagement with Plumly's close readings of Keats's poems, to flat-out boredom with details that seemed unnecessary and more appropriate for some academic journal - another Goodreads review mentions the interminable cataloguing of Severn's miniatures; I mean, really though? Also, Mr. Plumly, we get it, you are very very angry that Keats's friend Mr. Brown My experience reading Posthumous Keats vacillated between the typical voyeuristic satisfaction of anyone reading a biography, as well as a deep engagement with Plumly's close readings of Keats's poems, to flat-out boredom with details that seemed unnecessary and more appropriate for some academic journal - another Goodreads review mentions the interminable cataloguing of Severn's miniatures; I mean, really though? Also, Mr. Plumly, we get it, you are very very angry that Keats's friend Mr. Brown didn't come along to Italy, but it's not like Keats would have lived, based on the reported conditions of his lungs at the autopsy. (If, like me, you're sort of morbidly curious about how all these artist-types died of tuberculosis back then, this is a great book for that.) Also OMG I was a total innocent about how dying Keats wrote some evil shit to Fanny Brawne in his self-pitying state; take that, Bright Star the Movie! Overall, though, the book threw me back into the poems, which is what I was looking for, and if you need/want a similar boost, go for it - and give yourself permission to skip a few pages here and there. Unless you are a serious Keats geek; you will probably love this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    GraceAnne

    Plumly notes that he has been reading and thinking about Keats' life and work for about as long as the poet was alive. This beautiful collection of essays about Keats' poetry and his life - focusing on his last three years is a rich and satisfying read. Keats was one of my major studies in college; he remains one of my favorite poets. "To Autumn" is one of the most perfect poems ever, anywhere. Plumly notes that he has been reading and thinking about Keats' life and work for about as long as the poet was alive. This beautiful collection of essays about Keats' poetry and his life - focusing on his last three years is a rich and satisfying read. Keats was one of my major studies in college; he remains one of my favorite poets. "To Autumn" is one of the most perfect poems ever, anywhere.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julie Bozza

    Hhhmmm... 'a personal biography' is just the term for it. Much pondering to be pondered. Hhhmmm... 'a personal biography' is just the term for it. Much pondering to be pondered.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    I hesitate to give this a rating at all because I suspect this book was very intimate to its author. It is labeled a “personal biography”; that being said, most writing about Keats’s life is personal in some measure. One can’t help but get attached. To read the rest of this review, visit The Macabre Librarian at: https://macabrelibrarian.wordpress.co... I hesitate to give this a rating at all because I suspect this book was very intimate to its author. It is labeled a “personal biography”; that being said, most writing about Keats’s life is personal in some measure. One can’t help but get attached. To read the rest of this review, visit The Macabre Librarian at: https://macabrelibrarian.wordpress.co...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lidia

    I knew little about Keats before reading this, other than the standard 5-line biography and some poems we read in school, so Plumly's book was a definite introduction to this great poet. It is definitely a very literary biography, as the cover blurbs state, and the writing is quite rich, though too repetitive at times. Noticeably often, the same idea is repeated almost word for word from a previous chapter without evident benefit. I liked the fact that Plumly shows how poorly Keats's contemporar I knew little about Keats before reading this, other than the standard 5-line biography and some poems we read in school, so Plumly's book was a definite introduction to this great poet. It is definitely a very literary biography, as the cover blurbs state, and the writing is quite rich, though too repetitive at times. Noticeably often, the same idea is repeated almost word for word from a previous chapter without evident benefit. I liked the fact that Plumly shows how poorly Keats's contemporaries, even close friends, misunderstood and misrepresented the poet, both during his lifetime and for decades afterwards, by demonstrating his obvious genius in the use of language, not only in his poetry, but also in his intensely intelligent and passionate letters to different people, and the enormous thoughtfulness with which Keats saw his role and function as a poet. And I like the fact that Plumly also restores Keats's fiancee Fanny Brawne to her proper place in Keats's life. Personally, I have no idea how any young woman in love could have suffered his terrible letters to her, with their gloom and doom, their incredibly abstracted emotions, and nearly constant rejection. That alone puts Brawne in a category of her own. I've given the book 2 stars, however because really should have been just a long scholarly article and not a book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Beautifully written in parts and with a real love of and affinity for Keats' life and work. He has mastered this subject, and then some- he has got to know more about Keats' late works and days than pretty much anyone in the world. Problem for me was, this obvious boon was the book's bane at the same time. I got way too weighed down as a reader with the almost slavish attention paid to the history of the actual texts- which is certainly interesting, but to a point. He also rehashes the histories a Beautifully written in parts and with a real love of and affinity for Keats' life and work. He has mastered this subject, and then some- he has got to know more about Keats' late works and days than pretty much anyone in the world. Problem for me was, this obvious boon was the book's bane at the same time. I got way too weighed down as a reader with the almost slavish attention paid to the history of the actual texts- which is certainly interesting, but to a point. He also rehashes the histories and works of some of Keats' friends way too much. I think I know the quality of Joseph Severin's painting a little more than I needed to, and by the looks of things it wasn't all that hot to begin with. Worth it for a Keats fan, but not too spellbinding for anyone who isn't already hardcore into him and is willing to go a hundred pages into details that are powerful (Keats riding in a carriage because he's too sickly with TB to walk and Severin putting flowers in the seat next to him as companionship as he walks alongside the slowly moving carriage) and the stuff that's just not all that interesting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allison O'Toole

    I try to read a lot of biographies but I often find it difficult to slog through countless dates and facts without any real narrative to tie them together. Plumly gets around that by throwing chronology to the wind, focusing on Keats' literary years. He also injects a good amount of literary analysis/criticism and his own personal opinions - it's nice to read a biography that regularly admits its own bias! The personal touches make this more engaging than most, and I found the whole thing just a I try to read a lot of biographies but I often find it difficult to slog through countless dates and facts without any real narrative to tie them together. Plumly gets around that by throwing chronology to the wind, focusing on Keats' literary years. He also injects a good amount of literary analysis/criticism and his own personal opinions - it's nice to read a biography that regularly admits its own bias! The personal touches make this more engaging than most, and I found the whole thing just a delight. Plumly's own abilities as a poet are obvious, and this was about as poetic a piece of non-fiction as I've ever read. There are other bios of Keats you can pick up that will cover more of his life and won't repeat the same points or themes, but I doubt they'd be as lovely and enjoyable as this one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Klawitter

    In the Romantic poetic trinity of Byron, Shelly and Keats, this particular reviewer is a Shelly man...but I found this book quite fascinating. The first 70 or so pages of this book are a rather slow and meandering meditation on the casting of Keat's death mask and other pictures/representations of the poet and his final months and days in his sick bed in Italy. But then the book really picks up with fascinating tidbits about Keats and his friends as they struggle not just with his illness of "co In the Romantic poetic trinity of Byron, Shelly and Keats, this particular reviewer is a Shelly man...but I found this book quite fascinating. The first 70 or so pages of this book are a rather slow and meandering meditation on the casting of Keat's death mask and other pictures/representations of the poet and his final months and days in his sick bed in Italy. But then the book really picks up with fascinating tidbits about Keats and his friends as they struggle not just with his illness of "consumption" (tuberculosis...the "poet's disease"), but his poetic legacy. Part travelogue, part medical history, and part literary biography, this book is well researched and is an extended rumination on a now popular and canonized poet who feared his name would "be writ in water" and his work not included among the great English Poets.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    A scholarly and brilliantly written study of Keats' final years and work. Plumly's description of Keats' last hours, as recorded by Joseph Severn, evoke sorrow at the despair Keats felt about his degenerating body and spirit, as he could not know that posterity would consider him to be the finest of the Romantic poets. Plumly examines the effects of Keats' disappointment over unfavorable reviews, and his knowledge that his body was wasting away like his siblings'. The account is all the more poi A scholarly and brilliantly written study of Keats' final years and work. Plumly's description of Keats' last hours, as recorded by Joseph Severn, evoke sorrow at the despair Keats felt about his degenerating body and spirit, as he could not know that posterity would consider him to be the finest of the Romantic poets. Plumly examines the effects of Keats' disappointment over unfavorable reviews, and his knowledge that his body was wasting away like his siblings'. The account is all the more poignant if one has visited "Keats'House" in Hampstead Heath in London and 26 Piazza di Spagna in Rome, where he died.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This is for the reader who already knows the bare bones of Keats' life. Plumly assumes that knowledge and proceeds to write some strange (and obscure) stories like the making of the death mask of Keats and some very telling letters he wrote to Fanny Brawne, revealed only after her death. To be honest, it was a slow start, but the final chapters were riveting, to me. Plumly probably recommends the Amy Lowell biography of Keats because he referred to it glowingly at least four times by my count. This is for the reader who already knows the bare bones of Keats' life. Plumly assumes that knowledge and proceeds to write some strange (and obscure) stories like the making of the death mask of Keats and some very telling letters he wrote to Fanny Brawne, revealed only after her death. To be honest, it was a slow start, but the final chapters were riveting, to me. Plumly probably recommends the Amy Lowell biography of Keats because he referred to it glowingly at least four times by my count.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Betsy Kalman

    This book was recommended by my mentor, Robert Clark. I was spellbound, start to finish. Stanley Plumly is an extraordinary writer and this work about John Keats final two years, his self-described "posthumous life," made me think a lot about the legacy of art. Keats' letters and poetry were his best during this period of time. Reading about his terminal months in Rome sent me to Google to look at the Spanish Stairs. This book was recommended by my mentor, Robert Clark. I was spellbound, start to finish. Stanley Plumly is an extraordinary writer and this work about John Keats final two years, his self-described "posthumous life," made me think a lot about the legacy of art. Keats' letters and poetry were his best during this period of time. Reading about his terminal months in Rome sent me to Google to look at the Spanish Stairs.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

    This is really a great read, beautifully written by a poet obviously on Keat's side, and worthily... And for those of us who write poems, takes into account one's hopeful and probably unknown and unknowable posthumosity (great new word I just invented... use with caution!). Along the way we get a feel for both Keats and his peers and friends... I'm still reading it! This is really a great read, beautifully written by a poet obviously on Keat's side, and worthily... And for those of us who write poems, takes into account one's hopeful and probably unknown and unknowable posthumosity (great new word I just invented... use with caution!). Along the way we get a feel for both Keats and his peers and friends... I'm still reading it!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vicky C

    As a Keats novice, only familiar with a few odes, this required fair amount of concentration to get familiar with works and personalities but beautifully written. Inspired me to read more. Inevitably given the subject, rather a focus on the process, attitudes and philosophy of 19th century death so not a great read of you are feeling depressed.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    I read the first chapter of this book, which is a beautiful meditation on the last days of the life of the poet John Keats, a long time favorite of mine. The book, though is terribly sad, and I just don't think I have to fortitude to get through 11 chapters on Keats's death--so I've moved this over to books I won't finish. I read the first chapter of this book, which is a beautiful meditation on the last days of the life of the poet John Keats, a long time favorite of mine. The book, though is terribly sad, and I just don't think I have to fortitude to get through 11 chapters on Keats's death--so I've moved this over to books I won't finish.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Partly a biographical account, partly why Keats died as a penniless, anonymous man and now is on every lit classes' shelves, this raises excellent questions about whether art is only possible because we are mortal. One of the best parts for me was Plumly's inclusion of where/how Keats edited his writing between drafts, and the versions we know today. Partly a biographical account, partly why Keats died as a penniless, anonymous man and now is on every lit classes' shelves, this raises excellent questions about whether art is only possible because we are mortal. One of the best parts for me was Plumly's inclusion of where/how Keats edited his writing between drafts, and the versions we know today.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rhiain

    Beautifully written! This was an extremely moving account of one of the greats, and my favourite poet. A mixture of memoir, biography, and literature - this book brought Keats to life. It breaks my heart to think he died thinking his name was "writ in water". Rest in peace Mr Keats! You are definitely not forgotten. This awesome biography proves it!! Beautifully written! This was an extremely moving account of one of the greats, and my favourite poet. A mixture of memoir, biography, and literature - this book brought Keats to life. It breaks my heart to think he died thinking his name was "writ in water". Rest in peace Mr Keats! You are definitely not forgotten. This awesome biography proves it!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rich Martin

    Reveals not only the great poet and his struggles and hardships but the strange story of how he became renowned (after his death).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    Thoughtful close readings, but confusing in its lack of chronological narrative and often repetitive in thoughts conveyed. The chapter on Fanny Brawne was particularly well-drawn.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Harvey

    I wanted a book about the poetry, but this is mostly about turning Keats into a fetish.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bri

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julia Robb

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heather Palare

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pat

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lakshmi S Menon

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andy Solomon

  30. 5 out of 5

    Phil

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