Saturday, December 05, 2009

Early reception of Keats

[Mr Keats] is a copyist of Mr Hunt; but he is more unintelligible, almost as rugged, twice as diffuse, and ten times more tiresome and absurd than his prototype, who, though he impudently presumed to seat himself in the chair of criticism, and to measure his own poetry by his own standard, yet generally had a meaning.  But Mr Keats had advanced no dogmas which he was bound to support by examples: his nonsense therefore is quite gratuitous; he writes it for its own sake, and, being bitten by Mr Leigh Hunt's insane criticism, more than rivals the insanity of his poetry....
John Wilson Croker, The Quarterly Review


Nada Gordon: 2 ludic 4 U said...

This is what I love:

Aubrey de Vere, in 1887? (according to Google Books) or 1849? (according to Christopher Ricks), writing on Keats:

Perhaps we have had no other instance of a bodily constitution so poetical. With him all things were more or less sensational; his mental faculties being, as it were, extended throughout the sensitive part of his nature—as the sense of sight, according to the theory of the Mesmerists, is diffused throughout the body on some occasions of unusual excitement. His body seemed to think; and, on the other hand, he sometimes appears hardly to have known whether he possessed aught but body. His whole nature partook of a sensational character in this respect, namely, that every thought and sentiment came upon him with the suddenness, and appealed to him with the reality of a sensation. It is not the lowest only, but also the loftiest part of our being to which this character of unconsciousness and immediateness belongs. Intuitions and aspirations are spiritual sensations; while the physical perceptions and appetites are bodily intuitions.

Lemon Hound said...

"the loftiest part of our being..."

I love it.

Jonathan Ball said...

At first I found this funny, but then thinking of how miserable Keats was made by remarks like this, how disillusioned in his lifetime by the reception of his work (to the degree that he refused to have his name carved on his tombstone, replaced by a line about how his name was "writ in water" and would no doubt disappear) ..... it just makes me sad. Don't mean to be a downer, but how depressing that these early receptions of Keats were so effective at discouraging him.

Lemon Hound said...

"Don't mean to be a downer, but how depressing that these early receptions of Keats were so effective at discouraging him. "

That's just it, isn't it? So much reviewing is about keeping "bad poetry" out of the "market."

Who says what is bad? Who says what bad writing about poetry is? Blach and bother.