Keats and Negative Capability (Continuum Literary Studies)

By Li Ou

"Negative capability", the time period John Keats used just once in a letter to his brothers, is a well known yet strangely unexplored idea in literary feedback and aesthetics. This booklet is the 1st book-length learn of this vital thought in seventy years. in addition to clarifying the that means of the time period and giving an anatomy of its key parts, the publication offers an entire account of the heritage of this concept. It strains the narrative of the way the word first turned recognized and progressively won foreign money, and explores its basic assets in previous writers, mostly Shakespeare and William Hazlitt, and its leader Modernist successors, W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot. in the meantime, the time period is usually utilized to Keats's personal poetry, which manifests the evolution of the belief in Keats's poetic perform. the various comparative readings of the suitable texts, together with King Lear, remove darkness from the interconnections among those significant writers. The e-book is an unique and important piece of scholarship in this celebrated concept.

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The poet of ‘negative power’ is the target poet. … (2) Keats is going directly to suggest that, inside of a poem, the presentation of material in a creative shape that appeals to our ‘sense of good looks’ is sufficient, independently of its fact or falsity while thought of outdoors the poem. (Norton 1962: 1275; Norton 2000, II:889) the excellence made within the first element is vital to the concept that, however the phrases ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’, although most likely meant to be extra intelligible to scholars, will not be the exact same as ‘disinterested’ and ‘egotistical’ in Keats’s vocabulary. Neither does the previous type of poet ‘simply … [present] material’, with no the energetic participation of mind's eye. As for the second one element, Keats isn't really emphasizing self sufficient good looks inside of any unmarried poem, yet really making the excellence among an excessive adventure and a rational means of abstraction. regardless of this unsatisfactory definition, being anthologized by way of Norton marks the canonical prestige of unfavourable potential, even though the textbook reference might have been made extra beneficial even again within the Sixties. 6 the tale after the Nineteen Sixties isn't really as fascinating. Stuart M. Sperry’s Keats the Poet (1973) may be an important feedback on Keats within the Nineteen Seventies. Sperry lists the ‘rich concreteness and immediacy, the fullness of its variety of sympathies, its abhorrence of the in basic terms doctrinaire and openness to numerous issues of view’ in Keats’s poetry as ‘qualities that arrange themselves commonly round’ adverse potential (10), and he additionally interprets detrimental strength with the fashionable time period, ‘a country of perpetual indeterminacy’ (245). His arguments are incisive and revealing, however the concentration of the booklet is at the complete physique of Keats’s aesthetic principles instead of on detrimental strength itself. After Sperry, Christopher Ricks’s Keats and Embarrassment (1974) got here out, defined within the bibliographical publications as ‘the most unusual’ of contemporary Keats feedback, even though ‘the originality is often in simple terms one of those perverse eccentricity’ (Stillinger 1985: 684), and as ‘brilliant if occasionally eccentric’ (Kucich 1998: 148). Ricks argues that Keats ‘was particularly audacious in believing that the fit power of a feeling of id relies satirically upon the danger and openness and never upon self-protection’ (25), for which the adverse power passage is mentioned as facts, hired merely to pursue his ‘original’ mental idea. no matter what we make of Ricks’s learn, via the tip of the Seventies there's no query concerning the acclaim for the time period, which no less than should be ascertained through Woody Allen’s 1979 long island within which Diane Keaton makes use of unfavorable potential to explain a sculpture on the Guggenheim. this can be the start of the adoption of the time period in nation-states except literature. equally, in the box of literary research, it has turn into the sort of general word that it has started to be freely linked to many different writers. for example, in 1980, an essay via William V. Spanos is on ‘Charles Olson and unfavourable Capability’.

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