The Science of Man: Anthropological Speculation and Stadial Theory in <i>Hyperion</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:
The Science of Man: Anthropological Speculation and Stadial Theory in Hyperion

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This chapter focuses on Hyperion. In The History of America, William Robertson describes the effect on the colonies of a sophisticated but exploitative European government. Hyperion certainly has an imperialist flavour and Keats would have had a useful introduction to the history of empire from Voltaire's Essai sur les moeurs, Robertson's History of America and Gibbon's Decline and Fall. The idea of Apollo as an ambivalent, ‘modern’ Columbus figure and the Titans as either ‘infants’ or ‘ancients’ is reinforced in the poem by references to Apollo as ‘loveliness new born’ and by the representation of his enabling state as one of continual rebirth as compared to the Titans' frozen forms. The Hyperion project is not only revealing of that philosophically ‘forked creature’ that Chandler calls ‘enlightened romanticism’, but also reflects and illuminates the complexities of Enlightenment histories themselves.

Keywords: Hyperion; William Robertson; Voltaire; Essai sur les moeurs; History of America; Gibbon; Decline and Fall; Enlightenment; stadial theory

Chapter.  14514 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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