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About the book
  • Published: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409076636
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 544

Bright Star

The Complete Poems and Selected Letters




'O soft embalmer of the still midnight,/ Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,/ Our gloom-pleas'd eyes, embower'd from the light, / Enshaded in forgetfulness divine' John Keats, 'Ode to Sleep'

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY DIRECTOR JANE CAMPION

John Keats died in penury and relative obscurity in 1821, aged only 25. He is now seen as one of the greatest English poets and a genius of the Romantic age. This collection, which contains all his most memorable works and a selection of his letters, is a feast for the senses, displaying Keats' gift for gorgeous imagery and sensuous language, his passionate devotion to beauty, as well as some of the most moving love poetry ever written.

  • Pub date: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409076636
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 544

About the Author

John Keats

John Keats was born in October 1795, son of the manager of a livery stable in Moorfields. His father died in 1804 and his mother, of tuberculosis, in 1810. By then he had received a good education at John Clarke's Enfield private school. In 1811 he was apprenticed to a surgeon, completing his professional training at Guy's Hospital in 1816. His decision to commit himself to poetry rather than a medical career was a courageous one, based more on a challenge to himself than any actual achievement.

His genius was recognized and encouraged by early Mends like Charles Cowden Clarke and J. H. Reynolds, and in October 1816 he met Leigh Hunt, whose Examiner had already published Keats's first poem. Only seven months later Poems (1817) appeared. Despite the high hopes of the Hunt circle, it was a failure. By the time Endymion was published in 1818 Keats's name had been identified with Hunt's 'Cockney School', and the Tory Blackwood's Magazine delivered a violent attack on Keats as a lower-class vulgarian, with no right to aspire to 'poetry'.

But for Keats fame lay not in contemporary literary politics but with posterity. Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth were his inspiration and challenge. The extraordinary speed with which Keats matured is evident from his letters. In 1818 he had worked on the powerful epic fragment Hyperion, and in 1819 he wrote 'The Eve of St Agnes', 'La Belle Dame sans Merci', the major odes, Lamia, and the deeply exploratory Fall of Hyperion. Keats was already unwell when preparing the 1820 volume for the press; by the time it appeared in July he was desperately ill. He died in Rome in 1821. Keats's final volume did receive some contemporary critical recognition, but it was not until the latter part of the nineteenth century that his place in English Romanticism began to be recognized, and not until this century that it became fully recognized.

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Praise for Bright Star

“Littered with sensuous descriptions of nature's beauty, Keats's odes also pose profound philosophical questions”

Sunday Telegraph

“Sublime”

Sunday Times

“In what we call natural magic, he ranks with Shakespeare...no-one else in English poetry has...his perception of loveliness”

Matthew Arnold

“One of the half-dozen greatest English writers”

Edmund Wilson

“His letters are certainly the most notable and most important ever written by any English poet”

T.S. Eliot

“Astounding, contemporary-seeming brilliance and deep wisdom about writers and writing”

Andrew Motion on Keats' letters


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