The life of John Keats the man: his family, his friends, and his contemporaries.

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Postby Cath » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:19 pm

The Guardian has published a new review of the Keats biography by Nicholas Roe in paperback:

Nicholas Roe has come in for some stick for claiming in this impressive life of the poet that "Ode to a Nightingale" is "one of the greatest recreations of a drug-inspired dream-vision in English literature", but if you find this hard to swallow, Roe's determination to make us look again at the Keats we think we know is admirable. Like Coleridge or De Quincey, Keats was an opium addict, Roe claims, because laudanum (freely dispensed by Guy's hospital, where Keats trained as a surgeon) eased the pain of his constant sore throat, a symptom of the TB that would kill him at 25 (he also might have hastened his death by self-medicating with mercury, wrongly believing he had syphilis). Here is a less innocent, more physically robust Keats than the sickly boy of legend or Shelley's otherworldly Adonais; a pugnacious poet, who in childhood preferred fighting to reading; he was confident, sensual, sexually active, but also rootless, mercurial and morbid. Roe even makes a virtue of Keats's suburban upbringing, raised on the edgy "darkling thresholds" of London.

The paperback came out at the beginning of June and bears a new cover:
"Why should we be owls, when we can be Eagles?" (Keats to Reynolds, 3 February 1818)
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