Keats: women, readers and revision

Park, Hye-Young (2000) Keats: women, readers and revision. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis examines three apparently unrelated matters, Keats's representation of women in his poems, his responses to his readership, and his habits of revision, and argues that these are in fact aspects of Keats's work that are intimately connected one with another. It is divided into three parts. The first part is introductory. In the first chapter I place my own work in relation to the recent trends in Keats criticism that have impinged on it most forcibly. In particular, I consider the recent work, best represented perhaps by Susan Wolfson, that has countered the traditional emphases of Keatsean scholarship by developing an approach that might loosely be described as feminist, and the work, best represented by Andrew Bennett, that has focused on Keats's responses both to the assumed readers of his poems and to their reviewers, most importantly their hostile reviewers. The two critical approaches are connected, as Wolfson amongst others notes, by the fact that during the course of Keats's professional career women became, and were recognised as having become, a constituency of the poetry reading public so powerful as to determine the commercial success of any volume of poetry. My second chapter is biographical. In it, I attempt to ground Keats's complex responses to women in the material, social realities of his life by examining his relationship with three women in particular: Jane Cox, Isabella Jones, and Fanny Brawne, although I call attention also to the striking absence in Keats's writing of a fourth woman, his mother. The division between the second and third parts of the thesis borrows Andrew Bennett's understanding of the distinction between narrative poetry, which is always and explicitly addressed to a reader, and lyric poetry, in which the poet sings to himself and is only overheard by his reader. In the second part of the thesis I treat, in chronological order of their composition, Keats's major narrative romances; Endymion, 'La Belle Dame sans Merci', Isabella, The Eve of St Agnes, Lamia, and the two versions of Hyperion. In the final part of the thesis, I turn to Keats's lyric poems, first the great odes and then the sonnets that Keats wrote at the very end of his poetic career. Of ail Keats's poems the odes have received the fullest critical treatment. My own study of them is distinctive in that it understands Keats's practice in these poems in relation to his handling of the romance form. It follows that for me the 'Ode to Psyche' is the critical poem, because Keats chooses a topic that lends itself to treatment in the form of a verse romance such as Endymion, and had indeed already given Mary Tighe the subject matter for one of the more popular verse romances of Keats's day, and self-consciously refuses the possibility. The visionary encounter with the goddess does not yield a narrative, but rather a still tableau in contemplating which Keats comes to apprehend the nature of his own poetic authority. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Richard Cronin
Keywords: English literature
Date of Award: 2000
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2000-71904
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:31
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 09:31
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71904

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