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Culture Forum

  1. Standard member Grampy Bobby
    Boston Lad
    08 Aug '13 11:00
    Keats: "And today is the anniversary..."

    "And today is the anniversary of the end of one of the last truly happy periods in the life of John Keats (books by this author). It was on this day in 1818 that Keats finished a long walking tour through Northern England, Ireland, and Scotland. John Keats was 23 years old. He'd planned to become a surgeon, but he realized his real vocation was poetry, and in the spring of 1818, he published his first major long poem, Endymion. And then he set out on a hike through the countryside with his friend Charles Brown. Wordsworth had been inspired by walking around England, so Keats decided to do the same that summer.

    Keats was a London boy. He had never seen the mountains. He had never seen a waterfall. He wrote letters back to his brother about the wonderful things that he saw, but gradually on his hike he realized he was no Wordsworth, that he did not want to write about scenery. He was more interested in the people whom he saw along the way. He was fascinated by the peasants who walked barefoot on the roads, carrying their shoes and stockings so they would look nice when they got to town. He once saw an old woman being carried along the road in a kind of a cage like a dog kennel, smoking a pipe.

    He came back to London and learned that the reviews of Endymion were coming in, and critics had written ferocious attacks against him. He was crushed. And his brother had come down with a serious case of tuberculosis. His brother died in December, and by the end of that year, John Keats had contracted tuberculosis himself. He would die three years later, in 1821. It was in those last three years of his life that he wrote most of his greatest poems — including the six great odes that he is known for — all written in Keats's amazing year: 1819." -writers almanac (today's date)

    Comments?
  2. 08 Aug '13 11:52
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    [b]Keats: "And today is the anniversary..."

    "And today is the anniversary of the end of one of the last truly happy periods in the life of John Keats (books by this author). It was on this day in 1818 that Keats finished a long walking tour through Northern England, Ireland, and Scotland. John Keats was 23 years old. He'd planned to becom ...[text shortened]... all written in Keats's amazing year: 1819." -writers almanac (today's date)

    Comments?[/b]
    A singular story of courage in pursuing ones ideals and dreams not knowing where the road will go, end, fork or turn us back. Ferocious criticism never much altered the way Keats wrote, but it did hasten his death through feeling so unloved.
  3. 08 Aug '13 16:07
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    A singular story of courage in pursuing ones ideals and dreams not knowing where the road will go, end, fork or turn us back. Ferocious criticism never much altered the way Keats wrote, but it did hasten his death through feeling so unloved.
    Byron's 'Don Juan', stanza 60 of Canto XI
    John Keats, who was killed off by one critique,
    Just as he really promised something great,
    If not intelligible, - without Greek
    Contrived to talk about the Gods of late,
    Much as they might have been supposed to speak.
    Poor fellow! His was an untoward fate: -
    'Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
    Should let itself be snuffed out by an Article.
  4. 08 Aug '13 17:56
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    [b]Byron's 'Don Juan', stanza 60 of Canto XI
    John Keats, who was killed off by one critique,
    Just as he really promised something great,
    If not intelligible, - without Greek
    Contrived to talk about the Gods of late,
    Much as they might have been supposed to speak.
    Poor fellow! His was an untoward fate: -
    'Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
    Should let itself be snuffed out by an Article.[/b]
    What a great poem about thin skinned, poor Keats. Right on the money!
  5. 08 Aug '13 18:04
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    [b]Byron's 'Don Juan', stanza 60 of Canto XI
    John Keats, who was killed off by one critique,
    Just as he really promised something great,
    If not intelligible, - without Greek
    Contrived to talk about the Gods of late,
    Much as they might have been supposed to speak.
    Poor fellow! His was an untoward fate: -
    'Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
    Should let itself be snuffed out by an Article.[/b]
    I love that final couplet, the way it mixes solemnity and lightness of touch. Absolutely delectable.
  6. 08 Aug '13 23:22
    Originally posted by NoEarthlyReason
    I love that final couplet, the way it mixes solemnity and lightness of touch. Absolutely delectable.
    England has some of history's greatest literary giants. Too many to count, but most notably Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Swift, Byron, Keats, Tennyson, the list goes on and on. Once you add the whole UK it becomes overwhelming with Joyce, Browning, Burns, and so many others.
  7. 09 Aug '13 02:39
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    England has some of history's greatest literary giants. Too many to count, but most notably Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Swift, Byron, Keats, Tennyson, the list goes on and on. Once you add the whole UK it becomes overwhelming with Joyce, Browning, Burns, and so many others.
    I've recently become very partial to Joseph Conrad after reading Heart of Darkness and 'Twixt Land and Sea. Reading the classics has become my refuge and my spiritual tuition. I'm not sure which other countries have great literary traditions, but I have been especially struck my the Russian novels I've read. America of course has a great storytelling tradition which I've for the most part experienced as the 'movies', notably Spielberg but so many others also. In addition, I have in the last year read Tom Sawyer, The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne, Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and begun listening to Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, beautifully read by Peter Marinke.

    I'm lucky in that I've spent my formative years in both Britain and the USA and I feel like I have an intuitive appreciation of both US and British literature. It's probably just an illusion, but it's one I enjoy being under so will try and keep it that way.
  8. 09 Aug '13 09:01
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    What a great poem about thin skinned, poor Keats. Right on the money!
    Byron of course had a relatively limited respect for Keats, but recognised his talent even while thinking it unfulfilled. By contrast, he was generally hostile to Wordsworth, Coleridge and the nowadaws lesser-known Southey.
  9. 09 Aug '13 09:06
    Originally posted by NoEarthlyReason
    I've recently become very partial to Joseph Conrad after reading Heart of Darkness and 'Twixt Land and Sea. Reading the classics has become my refuge and my spiritual tuition. I'm not sure which other countries have great literary traditions, but I have been especially struck my the Russian novels I've read. America of course has a great storytelling ...[text shortened]... just an illusion, but it's one I enjoy being under so will try and keep it that way.
    Conrad of course was a Pole and learned English as his third or fourth language (after Polish, Russian and probably French). English and American literature are bridged by such figures as Henry James who was raised in the US but lived largely in Britain. In a sense all the national literary traditions are intertwined; the poem by Byron quoted above, Don Juan, was a huge influence on Russian literature via Pushkin who was inspired by it to write his novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, which went on to be the foundation point of the great nineteenth-century novelistic tradition in Russia.
  10. 09 Aug '13 12:37
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Conrad of course was a Pole and learned English as his third or fourth language (after Polish, Russian and probably French). English and American literature are bridged by such figures as Henry James who was raised in the US but lived largely in Britain. In a sense all the national literary traditions are intertwined; the poem by Byron quoted above, Don Ju ...[text shortened]... nt on to be the foundation point of the great nineteenth-century novelistic tradition in Russia.
    World literature sure is intertwined. The always apparently lowly Sicilians invent the sonnet, but Italians take credit for it. No one can deny Dante's enormous influence, but also Ariosto's. The Latin writer's influence goes without saying. Criticism stirs on the strong to greater heights. Cicero's long standing feud with Caesar led to Caesar's great anti-Cato. Then we ahve geniuses who catch fore all on their own through failings in other arts such as Arrigo Boito whose operas were middling at best, but who wrote to libretti of unparalleled genius in Othello and Falstaff for Verdi.
  11. 10 Aug '13 17:02 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    Then we have geniuses who catch fore all on their own through failings in other arts such as Arrigo Boito whose operas were middling at best, but who wrote to libretti of unparalleled genius in Othello and Falstaff for Verdi.
    Have you even seen Boito's Mefistofele staged? I understand a production in San Francisco a while ago got high acclaim.
  12. 10 Aug '13 18:14 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Have you even seen Boito's Mefistofele staged? I understand a production in San Francisco a while ago got high acclaim.
    I have only heard it on CD, never staged. It is a wonderful opera, but Boito's talent was far superior in the writing of libretti. We owe him two great operas in Otello and Falstaff. Mefistofele is very, very good, but far from great. However, his knowledge of composing certainly gave him a deeper insight into how to best adapt Shakespeare to the Italian way of thinking and Verdi's skills. What a team they made!