Chapter

Civil Society: Sentimental History and Enlightenment Socialisation in <i>Endymion</i> and <i>The Eve of St. Agnes</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/9780748637805.003.0003
Civil Society: Sentimental History and Enlightenment Socialisation in Endymion and The Eve of St. Agnes

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This chapter concentrates on Endymion and The Eve of St. Agnes. While William Hazlitt's comments do not explicitly refer to the historical elements of Walter Scott's and Godwin's novels, his distinction between external and internal modes of observation has clear affinities with the way in which those writers themselves believed that history could be represented in fiction and in extra-historical genres such as biography and memoir. In both Endymion and The Eve, John Keats presents aspects of sentimentalist historiography — interiority, privatisation, historical evocation — within the framework of a staged sense of developmental progression. The inherently sociological orientation of Endymion and The Eve is made explicit in the Hyperion poems, which dramatise the encounter between the Titans and the Olympians as an anthropological clash between two different societal stages, although in both cases this narrative of human development is somewhat compromised by Keats' inability or disinclination to finish the poems.

Keywords: Endymion; The Eve of St. Agnes; John Keats; civil society; sentimentalist historiography; Enlightenment socialisation

Chapter.  12343 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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