Romantic Formism In Helen Vendler's The Odes Of John Keats

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John Keats is a poet who, in literary criticism, has been interpreted in a way that his name has become synonymous with Romantic formalism or aesthetic formalism. Helen Vendler’s The Odes of John Keats (1983), for example, is a case in point. The book carries out a “thorough, rigorous attention to Keats’ odes and finds it a complex work of art unified as: a single long and heroic imaginative effort, in which Keats examined, in a sustained and deliberate and steadily more ambitious way, his own acute questions about the conditions for creativity, the forms art can take, the hierarchy of the fine arts (including the art of poetry), the hierarchy of genres within poetry, the relation of art to the order of nature, and the relation of art to human life and death (Vendler, 1983, p. 6). She grasps the odes as units in a series, each poem summoning up and critically reflecting upon the other and looking ahead towards the crystallization of Keatsean aesthetics.…show more content…
355). Taking a cue from Kaufman, this dissertation seeks to shift the critical attention away from an aesthetic Keats to a political Keats who expresses his sympathy with the common man. This shift in focus is intended with the purpose of veering away from the aesthetic identification of truth and beauty long ascribed to the poet. This Keatsean politics is, however, by no means the avowed aim of his poetry. Rather, it is a political view implied in his longer poems in largely thematic renditions of his ethical and deeply humane vision. More significantly, Keats’s Marxist politics of sympathy with the common man is encountered both formally and
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