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"Give Me That Voice Again ... Those Looks Immortal": Gaze and Voice in Keats's the Eve of St. Agnes (Critical Essay)

Studies in Romanticism 2010, Fall, 49, 3

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IT HAS, BECOME A COMMONPLACE IN ROMANTIC CRITICISM TO UNDERSTAND Keats s poetry as profoundly shaped by commodity culture. (1) For some critics, Keats is the parvenu, fatally cut off from the cultural and material capital of the gentleman poet. (2) For others, he is a poet who shamelessly revels in consumer culture, a middle class consumer immersed in the sensuousness of the commodity. Ayumi Mizukoshi, for example, argues that Keats is invested in a bourgeois "culture of conspicuous consumption." (3) According to this view, Keats was not primarily a political poet, much less a radical, but instead "remained a poet of sensuous pleasure until the end of his career" (8). Critics such as Nicholas Roe, however, have attempted to show that Keats was more politically radical than many have recognized. (4) This essay examines Keats in the context of the commercial culture that fascinated him but does not assume, as Mizukoshi does, that this fascination ends with acceptance and full engagement. Rather, I join those critics who see a more critical edge in Keats's work. Keats's immersion in commodity culture leads to an important critique of the type of object relations that turns people into things. Keats's 1820 romance, The Eve of St. Agnes, offers a provocative alternative to how things operate in commodity capitalism. Proposing a romance that breaks out of the courtly love tradition, the poem undermines the kind of enjoyment associated with consumption. (5)

"Give Me That Voice Again ... Those Looks Immortal": Gaze and Voice in Keats's the Eve of St. Agnes (Critical Essay)
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  • Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Published: 22 September 2010
  • Publisher: Boston University
  • Print Length: 40 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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