Jack Stillinger

in Reading The Eve of St. Agnes

Published in print November 1999 | ISBN: 9780195130225
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855209 | DOI:

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The author reasserts the book’s premise that the confluence of a complex authorship with a complex readership inevitably produces multiple interpretations of the complex literary piece being studied. Such intricacy is seen to benefit both the author and his work by encouraging and sustaining discussion and interpretation, leading to canonicity for both. The chapter traces the rise in John Keats’s posthumous popularity to the beautiful and bewildering convolutions that characterize his work, giving birth to differing interpretations which have effectively sustained a never-ending fascination with his prose across generations of readers. Lastly, the book stresses that complex authorship alone does not guarantee canonicity and that a sufficiently diverse readership must find enough interest in and empathy for the literary piece to jumpstart the process of creativity necessary for diverse interpretation. Thus, the reader–work transaction should be treated as one seamless process in deciphering the meaning of any complex literary work.

Keywords: John Keats; canonicity; authorship; readership; literary piece; interpretation; reader–work transaction

Chapter.  8143 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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