Darkling I Listen: The Last Days and Death of John Keats

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9780312222550: Darkling I Listen: The Last Days and Death of John Keats
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On October 21, 1820, John Keats set foot in Rome for what he hoped would be a swift convalescence that would return him to his normally energetic pace of writing. Exactly one hundred days later, he succumbed to consumption, dead at the age of twenty-five. This charming, elegiac, and detailed book brings to light the last days of his life, describing what he experienced in his room overlooking the quaint Piazza di Spagna and his tragically unrealized ambitions for the future. Keats' famous love affair with the young Fanny Brawne has long fascinated biographers, but Walsh shows for the first time how complex their relationship was, and how the events at the end of Keats' life illuminate the whole of their affair. He also discusses Keats' views on religion and the exact nature of the illness that killed him. This book is a must-read for those interested in Keats, and will delight anyone who follows Walsh's curiosity into the life and death of a gifted and tragic poet.

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About the Author:

John Evangelist Walsh is the author of more than a dozen books of history and biography, including Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allen Poe and Unraveling Piltdown: The Science Fraud of the Century and Its Solution. He lives in Monroe, Wisconsin.

From Publishers Weekly:

The last year of Keats's life, 1820, was a time of great triumph and, as Walsh writes in this gripping but irritatingly melodramatic book, one of great pain. The year before, he had written such extraordinary works of literature as "On a Grecian Urn," "To a Nightingale," "On Melancholy" and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," and when those poems appeared, in July 1820, they were immediately hailed by the British press. But by that time, Keats was already coughing up blood, having contracted, in February of that year, the tuberculosis that was to kill him. In September, accompanied by Joseph Severn, a loyal friend and a painter who in joining the poet damaged his chances of winning a prestigious fellowship, Keats sailed to Rome, where he installed himself in a room overlooking the famous Spanish Steps, hoping to get well, soon preparing to die. Walsh, whose previous books include Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, draws back the curtain on the 100 days that followed, a long sad scene that has only been glimpsed in other biographies. He is adept at explaining Keats's passions and the deep-rooted morbidity that may have played a role in his much debated relationship with Fanny Brawne, Keats's young lover. Walsh's prose can be grandiloquently banal, but he does evoke the scene, and the reader will be relieved to learn that the pseudo-poetic narration is accomplished without poetic license, as even such phrases as "the morning sun glinting off the houses" comes directly from the description of a witness. Walsh is evenhanded and convincing in his account of Keats's last days, a chapter of literary history that certainly belongs on shelves alongside the classic tragedies. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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