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Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography Hardcover – 2 Sep 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.; First Edition edition (2 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393065731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393065732
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 0.3 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 897,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A beautiful book... [W]hen Plumly turns his laser-like gaze on Keats' letters and his verse, the book is brilliant." -- Nicholas Delbanco "Mr. Plumly writes beautifully and very movingly." -- Charles McGrath "Plumly has written a book to last: worthy of its subject and commensurate with both words of its title." -- Robert Pinsky --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

* STANLEY PLUMLY has written nine books of poetry. His many honours include the William Carlos Williams Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Plumly is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By cathy earnshaw on 15 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
I re-read this recently and it was even better the second time around. Mourning Keats and recounting the memorialization of his achievement and open-hearted personality, it's not suitable as an introduction to the poet, but rather as an opportunity to wander through those dark last months and the beginnings of Keats's posterity.

It's a complex, sad tale - the "blue devils", the terrible crossing and quarantine outside of Naples, the disintegration of Keats's mind and all hope, the end of the poetry, the impossibility of ever seeing Fanny again. You need those moments when, out of patience with the inedible food, Keats deftly dispatches the spaghetti from the window of his coffin-like room; Severn tenderly placing wild flowers in the carriage taking Keats to Rome and to death; the poet's wit and fine language in his letter of refusal to Shelley prior to his departure...

Plumly's fine writing serves to intensify the reader's experience and to concentrate feeling. "For a month," Plumly writes, "it had not rained, each day the heat building into clouds from which nothing fell but heaviness and humidity" (p.99). Later: "To see as a poet, a true dreamer," he writes, "is to see as a healer and a knower" (p.182). Shelley's life is described as "about running, moving, disappearing" (p.98) while Trelawny - the butt of many a Romantic scholar's jokes - is characterised more humanely, as "ever inventive, always looking ahead" (p.102). Even consumption begins to sound beautiful when Plumly takes up his pen: "The lily or the snow or pale fire or the thin gray ash of the flesh withdrawn from the bone - these are some of the manifestations of the deadly consumptive illness that was known by many names" (p. 237).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ludovico Sforza TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Dec. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Really excellent read. Approaches Keats and the 'Keats legacy' from a different direction that I found both intriguing and very enjoyable. It seems to me to be the sort of book that you could read several times and each time discover something new, highly recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By K. Hall on 15 Dec. 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have had a weird obsession with Keats for 22 years. At the age of 15, when I was supposed to be reading Seamus Heaney in English, I flicked through the book and happened upon Keats instead. He looked so much more appealing in the picture and his tragic life captured my morbid 15 year old imagination. I have read several biographies, but in this book I have found the perfect way to revel in the delights of Keats, in everything about him that interests me - it's as if the writer has written it just for me! Part of my weird obsession involves getting in a time machine and meeting him [told you it was weird...] and I feel that this book is as close as I will get to that. It's almost certainly only for others equally obsessed though...My mother in law says she 'can't think of anything worse' to read...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am interested, fascinated by Keats the poet, but this book is not an easy read, and I have not had time to read beyond the incredibly graphic and sad telling of Keats death.
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5 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie De Pue TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Posthumous Keats" is described as a personal biography, of John Keats, of course, one of the famed English "Romantic Poets" of the early 19th Century, who, in a very short life, gave us such works as "Ode on a Grecian Urn," "Ode to a Nightingale," and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci." The book has been authored by Stanley Plumly, a talented, prize-winning poet himself, currently Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. Plumly has won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry, the Delmore Schwartz Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other honors.

Keats was only 25 years old when he died in 1821, after an agonizing year-long struggle with tuberculosis, in Rome, where he'd gone to flee the harsh English winter. He left behind, too, a secret engagement, and an ambivalent relationship, never consummated, with Miss Fanny Brawne. He was almost alone in Rome, little-known and quite poor; but at his death, he did also leave behind several devoted friends, and family members, many in possession of "fair copies" of his best-known poems, and a great deal of insightful correspondence. Their memorialization made his short life, significant work, and hard death the stuff of undying legend.

Plumly has obviously done a great deal of research in creation of this work, and it shows. "Posthumous Keats" is full of highly-interesting information, on England, particularly London; and Italy, particularly Rome; as they existed in the 19th century; on the social life and organization of those societies as they then existed, and most particularly on the parlous state of medicine then. Seems like the universal cures were laudanum (an opium derivative) and bleeding, just what a tubercular patient needed.
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