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Keats: The Myth of the Hero

Revised and Edited By Jeffrey Cane Robinson
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Focusing in a new and thoroughgoing way on Keats's widely discussed interest in Greek myth, Professor Van Ghent finds the underlying coherence in both his poetry and his letters to be archetypes of the hero and his double"--pervasive myths of creation and generation reflected in his poetics of desire.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5729-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-2)
  3. Preface
    (pp. 3-19)
    Jeffrey Cane Robinson
  4. I. Introduction: The Scenario of the Poems
    (pp. 20-23)

    If one were to set Keats’s poems up as a series of slates or lantern slides, each showing only the visual elements of a “plot,” and were to run the sequence through in such a way that repeated episodes converged, one would find a single synoptic action or master plot emerging. The plot is pre-literary; it is psychologically anterior to any of the poems in which it appears. It could even be pantomimed. The individual poems could be looked upon as improvisations of thought, dialogue, and music.

    Thedramatis personaeare few and the relationships they may assume with each...

  5. II. The Goddess of Many Names: Endymion
    (pp. 24-66)

    Endymionis a moon-poem. The chief complication of the plot is caused by the moon’s appearance in three forms, her planetary form—which is the only one in which Endymion recognizes her—and as two maidens, one golden-haired and one black-haired. In following the plot simply as plot, one has to think of the moon as a separate character from the two maidens, since this is the way Endymion looks upon her. The poem is dominated by women; there are six of them who actively influence the plot, if we include Circe from Glaucus’ story. They are the Moon (called...

  6. III. The Old Man and the Taboo Maiden: Endymion
    (pp. 67-87)

    Endymion follows two divine streams, two water spirits that are in love with each other, that gush out from springs in a lofty grotto, shoot up in fountains, and chase each other breathlessly. They lead him from under the earth into the sea.

    He turn’d—there was a whelming sound—he stept, There was a cooler light;

    He saw the giant sea above his head.

    (End. II. 1018-23)

    In the Latmian forest of Book I, the vegetation was nourished by abundant earth-water, and Endymion’s various calls and signs from the daemonic world were associated with streams, wells, and fountains. All...

  7. IV. The Ravished Bride
    (pp. 88-141)

    The marble urn in Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is addressed as “Thou still unravish’d bride.” The relief carvings on the urn depict a fertility orgy, with young men and maidens in erotic pursuit of each other through the forest. But the curious thing about this traditional orgiastic rite of spring is that there is no ravishing. The lovers can “never, never” kiss, never, never get any closer to each other, because they are transfixed in marble. The maidens, like the urn itself, are “still unravished brides.” In the five poems we shall consider in this chapter, the brides...

  8. V. The Passion of the Groves
    (pp. 142-179)

    In Keats’s great odes, the most conspicuous sign of a different spiritual climate is their tense. The tense of the erotic poems was the past: everything that happened was somewhere else and “long ago”—in Renaissance Florence or in ancient Corinth, in a feudal castle or in a world of faery where armored knights wandered about. But in the odes the tense is the present, projecting into the future. This is the tense of exigency and potentiality. Everything that happens is happening this instant or will happen directly. In the “Ode on Melancholy” we, the imaginary audience, are involved in...

  9. VI. The Succession of the Gods: 1
    (pp. 180-207)

    Hyperionshows the Titans in pain and wrath immediately after the Olympians have usurped power. It stops abruptly on a line of asterisks at the moment when Apollo achieves godhood by a ritual rebirth under the ministration of a great matriarchal figure, Mnemosyne. Keats stopped working on this section of the epic in April 1819, and a few months later started again with a new title,The Fall of Hyperion, A Dream,and a completely new beginning. The poem now has a visionframework. The poet dreams that he is in a forest glade where the remains of a divine feast...

  10. VII. The Succession of the Gods: 2
    (pp. 208-247)

    This transformation of the hero’s soul requires descent to the deepest sources of being, to the most profound reservoirs of creative energy, which, in their instinctual springs, are felt to be the same obscure power from which all existence draws its form and animation. The descent is made through dream.The Fallis deliberately cast into the form of a dream—The Fall of Hyperion, A Dream— the aged convention of visionpoetry, which Keats no doubt adopted under the immediate influence of Dante’s visionarycathodosandanodos,which he had been reading during the year when he was working on...

  11. Appendix. “Ode to a Nightingale”
    (pp. 248-270)
  12. Reference Notes
    (pp. 271-274)
  13. Index
    (pp. 275-277)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 278-278)