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Keats and Hellenism : an essay

by Martin Aske

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This book proposes a fresh and original interpretation of Keats' use of classical mythology in his verse. Dr Aske argues that classical antiquity appears to Keats as a supreme fiction, authoritative yet disconcerting, and his poems represent hard endeavours to come to terms with the influence of that fiction. The major poems (most notably Endymion, Hyperion, the Ode on a Grecian Urn and Lamia) form a stage, as it were, upon which is played out a psychic drama between the modern poet and his classical muse. The study is especially bold in its assimilation of historical scholarship and literary theory to a close reading of the texts. Individual poems are discussed in the context of late Enlightenment and Romantic attitudes towards antiquity and in the light of recent critical theory, in particular the theory of literary history and influence formulated by Harold Bloom and Geoffrey Hartman. Keats emerges as a significant example of the way in which a poet tries to establish a distinct identity under the burden of history and of literary tradition.… (more)

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This book proposes a fresh and original interpretation of Keats' use of classical mythology in his verse. Dr Aske argues that classical antiquity appears to Keats as a supreme fiction, authoritative yet disconcerting, and his poems represent hard endeavours to come to terms with the influence of that fiction. The major poems (most notably Endymion, Hyperion, the Ode on a Grecian Urn and Lamia) form a stage, as it were, upon which is played out a psychic drama between the modern poet and his classical muse. The study is especially bold in its assimilation of historical scholarship and literary theory to a close reading of the texts. Individual poems are discussed in the context of late Enlightenment and Romantic attitudes towards antiquity and in the light of recent critical theory, in particular the theory of literary history and influence formulated by Harold Bloom and Geoffrey Hartman. Keats emerges as a significant example of the way in which a poet tries to establish a distinct identity under the burden of history and of literary tradition.

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