Virtual Event: Lucasta Miller
A Brief Life in Nine Poems
and One Epitaph
May 31, 2022
6:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes LUCASTA MILLER—British critic and historian of 19th-century literature—for a discussion of her new book Keats: A Brief Life in Nine Poems and One Epitaph.
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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.
Praise for Keats
“Miller disrobes the myth, while helping us to appreciate what she calls Keats's ‘vertiginous originality’. As a wittily perceptive introduction to (or reminder of) the poet and his work, her book is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon.” —Miranda Seymour, Financial Times
“Lucasta Miller's task, which she carries out very successfully, is to strip away what we think when we think about Keats . . . Miller is empathetic, and relishes Keats's best phrases.” —Philip Hensher, Spectator
“Miller's brilliant life of Keats, told through a close reading of ‘nine poems and one epitaph’, reminds us more than once of the way in which Keats can deploy Shakespearean techniques to stop us in our readerly tracks . . . timely and fresh . . . satisfying, engaging and accessible.”—Rowan Williams, New Statesman
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