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By Porscha Fermanis

John Keats is mostly thought of to be the least intellectually subtle of the entire significant Romantic poets, yet he was once a extra severe philosopher than both his contemporaries or later students have said. This publication offers a tremendous reassessment of Keats's highbrow lifestyles by means of contemplating his engagement with a powerful physique of eighteenth-century inspiration from the paintings of Voltaire, Robertson, and Gibbon to Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith.The e-book re-examines a few of Keats's most crucial poems, together with The Eve of St Agnes, Hyperion, Lamia, and Ode to Psyche, within the mild of a number of Enlightenment principles and contexts from literary historical past and cultural growth to anthropology, political economic system, and ethical philosophy. via demonstrating that the language and concepts of the Enlightenment performed a key position in constructing his poetic schedule, Keats's poetry is proven to be much less the expression of an intuitive younger genius than the fabricated from the cultural and highbrow contexts of his time.

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Keats argues that ‘[t]he Reformation produced such immediate and great benefits, that Protestantism was considered under the 22 John Keats and the Ideas of the Enlightenment immediate eye of heaven, and its own remaining Dogmas and superstitions, then, as it were, regenerated, constituted those resting places and seeming sure points of Reasoning’ (LJK, I, 282). In pointing out those intellectual certainties assumed by Milton and his age, he adopts an attitude of sceptical inquiry towards custom and received knowledge.

38 Keats goes on to argue that the ‘unlucky termination’ of the French revolution has had the temporary effect of returning Europe to the age of autocracy and ‘horrid superstition’ (LJK, II, 193). Like Voltaire in Dictionnaire philosophique and the Essai sur les mœurs, he sees the development of human history as a constant struggle against superstition, but he is 26 John Keats and the Ideas of the Enlightenment convinced that the ‘third change, the change for the better’ is ‘in progress again’, and cites as a cause of his optimism evidence of the reduction of factionalism or ‘party spirit now in England’ (LJK, II, 194), evincing an anti-party agenda that was influenced by Voltaire’s intense dislike of sectarianism in Le Siècle de Louis XIV and Dictionnaire philosophique, as well as by Hazlitt’s claim in his 1817 essay ‘On the Tendency of Sects’ that party-spirit has a natural tendency to narrow the mind (HW, IV, 47).

17 Keats’s letters and 1817 Poems rely as much on Enlightenment modes and models of representation as they do on sentimental or psychological ones, but in Endymion – the first lengthy ‘test’ of his imagination (LJK, I, 169) – he explicitly rejects an external history of action in favour of an internal history of feeling.

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