• Keats

  • A Brief Life in Nine Poems and One Epitaph
  • By: Lucasta Miller
  • Narrated by: Sally Scott
  • Length: 10 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A dazzling new look into the short but intense, tragic life and remarkable work of John Keats, one of the greatest lyric poets of the English language, seen in a whole new light, not as the mythologized Victorian guileless nature-lover, but as the subversive, bawdy complex cynic whose life and poetry were lived and created on the edge.

In this brief life, acclaimed biographer Lucasta Miller takes nine of Keats's best-known poems—"Endymion"; "On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer"; "Ode to a Nightingale"; "To Autumn"; "Bright Star" among them—and excavates how they came to be and what in Keats's life led to their creation. She writes of aspects of Keats's life that have been overlooked, and explores his imagination in the context of his world and experience, paying tribute to the unique quality of his mind.

Miller, through Keats’s poetry, brilliantly resurrects and brings vividly to life, the man, the poet in all his complexity and spirit, living dangerously, disdaining respectability and cultural norms, and embracing subversive politics. Keats was a lower-middle-class outsider from a tragic and fractured family, whose extraordinary energy and love of language allowed him to pummel his way into the heart of English literature; a freethinker and a liberal at a time of repression, who delighted in the sensation of the moment.

We see how Keats was regarded by his contemporaries (his writing was seen as smutty) and how the young poet’s large and boisterous life—a man of the metropolis, who took drugs, was sexually reckless and afflicted with syphilis—went straight up against the Victorian moral grain; and Miller makes clear why his writing—considered marginal and avant-garde in his own day—retains its astonishing originality, sensuousness and power two centuries on.

©2022 Lucasta Miller (P)2022 Random House Audio

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A Romantic Life

As an old English major, I enjoyed this lively biography of John Keats. It analyzes the impact of his life on his best poetry. Events like the loss of his parents, his mother’s romantic relationships, his friendships, his reaction to hostile reviews and his intense romantic relationship with Fanny Brawne are reviewed in detail. The author has a thorough familiarity with early 19th Century English literary life, and she doesn’t hesitate to include some of its more sordid details. Her writing is conversational, easily understood.
Most important, however, the book includes nine of Keats’ best known poems, beautifully read by narrator Sally Scott.

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A Most Wonderful Book, Beautifully Read

How do you decide what works to cover of one of the Greatest Poets ever to live, John Keats? The selection is thoughtfully chosen with an edifying biographical account of each. I have but one misgiving that Lucasta Miller omitted, and that is one of my favorite verses of Keats from his horribly underrated Endymion and that is “Wherein Lies Happiness?” that bodes deeper than the poem’s opening prophecy of “A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever”, as if, Beauty could ever be a material “Thing” and not the magical, spellbinding, incantational words that carry the Soul to wings of unknown ethereal heights. No one has ever been able to elevate my Spirit as well as Keats has with the soul exception of Shakespeare aka Edward de Vere, whose biography, also like Keats, his greatest torch bearer, only enhances the verses with a fuller meaning. One need only read “Shakespeare Identified” or “Shakespeare by Another Name” amongst many other authorship books to be fully convinced. One last regret of this book, is that the end credits do not mention, the amazing reading by Sally Scott, who added her soothing, elegant voice and cadence to this fantastic audio recording.
I truly hope Ms Scott will go forward and read many more versions of Keats’ other poetry on her own merits. She far surpasses what is currently out there, for the most part, and her heartening reading of “Isabella” is especially captivating. I highly recommend this fantastic book and audio to anyone who loves poetry and the works of one of it’s greatest writers, John Keats, whose poems never grow old, or fail to inspire upon countless rereading. It boggles the mind to think what poetical heights he would have achieved if he had not died so terribly young! This is most happy listening at it’s best. Enjoy this “thing of beauty” and be prepared to be fully spellbound as the poems are read in full, except for Endymion.

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Great biography of an important English poet

It is a great informative biography of a Romantic lyricist. Sally Scott does a great job narrating the stories and poems of Keats life.

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For the love of Keats

A lush, full-blooded exploration of the short life of one of the great Romantic poets. It's scholarly and meticulously researched, but there's nothing dull or pedantic about the work. Lucasta Miller gives us a story rich with context and is careful to distinguish between what can and can't be known about John Keats. I love how each chapter begins with one of his poems, and how she blends analysis and biography so gracefully. The narration by Sally Scott is a perfect fit for the subject, the poems, and Miller's fluid and masterful prose. It's as mesmerizing as a siren song. Buy the book.