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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 28 January 2012
I approached Andrew Motion's biography of John Keats with some apprehension - I am no expert, academic or poet. Having read and struggled through Richard Ellmann's biography of Oscar Wilde a few years ago, I did wonder if I was going to enjoy Motion's book at all.

I really need not have worried. This is a really approachable text, obviously within the parameters of its subject matter. Yes, it will probably help if the reader is already familiar with Keats' work, but I am sure that it would equally serve very well as introducing a new reader to the poet. I'm certainly not a Keats' scholar and although I was familiar with some of his work, mainly the sonnets, I hardly knew the longer poems, such as Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion and Endymion. Motion amply discusses these poems within a biographical context. Those predominantly `literary' chapters are the hardest to get through, but they are certainly worth the effort, as I feel that I have now gained a general understanding of Keats' poetry and I feel ready to read them for pure enjoyment.

As for telling the story of John Keats, the man, Motion does a really amazing job, painting a thoroughly modern picture of Keats as a strong, independent young man, rather than the effeminate, delicate dreamer who, as Byron wrote shortly after Keats' death, `let himself be snuffed out by an article'. I am sure that the Keats described by Motion is the real John Keats; a man whose name was not, as his self-penned epitaph reads, `writ in water', but in eternity.
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on 3 March 2012
I would recommend this book to anybody interested in Keats. I got a copy from the library and didn't want to give it back. I think it's very well written, informative, sympathetic, and gives a colourful representation of the life of the poet, his siblings, and all of the friends and associates who helped shape his life. It's also fascinating to anybody interested in the not too distant history of our country. You can look up names mentioned in the book and see what impact or contribution they had to society and the arts, or whatever.. Joseph Severn, for instance. I won't say how he was connected to Keats (spoiler), but his story alone is really interesting and worth a read.
Apart from that, Keats came over very well, extremely sociable, humorous, kind-hearted and dedicated to his calling, but the book doesn't gloss over the various problems that beset him during his short life.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book even though I knew there would be no happy ennding. Read the book, see Bright Star, then go to the house in Hamptead.
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on 2 February 2015
I bought this book when it was first published and my copy was signed by the author.I have returned to read again and again.Andrew Motion has researched deeply,and in all aspects of Keats' life.It has an honoured place in my library of books on Keats,Shelley, Byron, Leigh Hunt and their circles. This book delves deeply and the result is excellent.
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on 5 August 2002
Motion's biography was my first introduction into the life of Keats. I had encountered Keats's poetry in the past, but often at the fringes. Reading this book engendered a still thriving interest in one of the English language's finest poets. Perhaps because it was my first introduction to this marvellous life, this biography held and fired my interest. The telling of the life was laced with some literary criticism. I thought the criticism could have been more penetrating. If there was a flaw in this book, that was it. Keats's short life is revealed in his letters and poetry. For Keats, a criticism of his poetry becomes an essential part of his biography. Overall, it was an agreeable book with a wonderful story ably told.
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on 3 January 2017
My mum asked me to buy this book for her....when I handed it to her on Christmas Eve, she nearly cried with delight and said it was the best present she ever received....
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on 15 October 2013
A beautifully written account of Keats' life,poetry and his relationship with Fanny Browne . After seeing the film "Bright Star" I simply had to read the book on which it was based.
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on 8 July 2014
This book is long and rather dull, nothing like as good as the book by Nicholas Roe who really does understand the political and cultural milieu in which Keats wrote.
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on 31 December 2013
I didn't want to finish reading this book and when I did, I cried. The insights into the creative process of writing poetry added to the great beauty of this book.
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on 6 November 2014
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Sir Andrew's book on the life and work of Keats.
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on 6 November 2014
Outstanding publication on possibly the World's greatest romantic poet.
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