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Indifference and Epistolarity in The Eve of St. Agnes

Gray, Erik I.

For I believe that The Eve of St. Agnes is, in its hybrid nature, the most epistolary poem of the Romantic period. I therefore begin my discussion with an exploration of the dark or ‘indifferent’ side of letter-writing. I then examine Keats’s letters and their willingness to submit to their own limitations as a form of consolation or self-defense. Finally I turn to The Eve of St. Agnes and other poems which are all, by Keats’s own account, ‘unpoetical’ because of their incorporation of epistolary methods. By writing poems the way he wrote letters – that is, by having recourse to submission and evasion just when one would expect an imaginative or ‘metaphysical’ climax – Keats opened up poetry to a realm of experience it had previously excluded.


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Published In
127 - 146
Edinburgh University Press
Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
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