Chapter

Ancients and Moderns: Literary History and the ‘Grand March of Intellect’ in Keats’s <i>Letters</i> and the 1817 <i>Poems</i>

Porscha Fermanis

in John Keats and the Ideas of the Enlightenment

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780748637805
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652181 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637805.003.0002
Ancients and Moderns: Literary History and the ‘Grand March of Intellect’ in Keats’s Letters and the 1817 Poems

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This chapter first addresses the various models of literary and more general history projected in John Keats' letters before going on to examine representations of literary history in Sleep and Poetry and I stood tip-toe upon a little hill. It argues against interpretations of these early poems which see them as conflicted psychological reactions to the ‘burden of the past’. Keats' letters suggest that he also saw his poetry as something to be understood in the context of still wider debates. Sleep and Poetry expresses a wider agenda than that of simple partisan self-assertion. I stood tip-toe is another of the poems in Keats' 1817 volume that attempts to define a new place and role for the modern poet in the diminished literary and political landscape of early nineteenth-century Britain. It becomes clearer that these poems are representations of received and popular ideas relating to literary history.

Keywords: John Keats; literary history; letters; Britain; 1817 Poems

Chapter.  10514 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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