Advertisement

Keats’s Killing Breath: Paradigms of a Pathography

  • Damian Walford DaviesEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)

Abstract

The nature of Keats’s understanding of the vectors of the disease that killed him, together with the range of conceptual paradigms that such knowledge (and its lack) prompted, has not been fully explored. Developing a historicised ‘pathographical’ literary criticism that identifies in Keats’s poetry and letters complex nodes of self-aware speculation—textual ‘tubercles’—concerning divergent contemporary theories of pulmonary tuberculosis, this chapter proposes that Keats’s work constitutes a clinically insightful and imaginatively exploratory contribution to medical debates concerning the aetiology of the family disease. Further, it shows how contemporary paradigms of tuberculosis presented Keats with highly serviceable, if always distressing, models that focused a range of preoccupations and anxieties such as inheritance and birthrights, individual poethood, imaginative engagement and fantasies of power. These paradigms helped him get a purchase on his biological and literary place in the world.

Works Cited

  1. Allard, James Robert, Romanticism, Medicine, and the Poet’s Body (Aldershot, 2007).Google Scholar
  2. Barnes, David S., The Making of a Social Disease: Tuberculosis in Nineteenth-Century France (Berkeley, 1995).Google Scholar
  3. Beddoes, Thomas, Essay on the Causes, Early Signs, and Prevention of Pulmonary Consumption for the Use of Parents and Preceptors (2nd edn, London, 1799).Google Scholar
  4. ———, Letter to Erasmus Darwin, M.D., on a New Method of Treating Pulmonary Consumption and Some Other Diseases Hitherto Found Incurable (Bristol, 1792).Google Scholar
  5. Bennett, Andrew, Keats, Narrative and Audience: The Posthumous Life of Writing (Cambridge, 1994).Google Scholar
  6. Bewell, Alan, Romanticism and Colonial Disease (Baltimore, MD, 1999).Google Scholar
  7. Brock, Russell Claude, John Keats and Joseph Severn: The Tragedy of the Last Illness (London, 1973).Google Scholar
  8. Brown, Charles, The Charles Brown Poetry Transcripts at Harvard: Facsimiles including the Fair Copy of ‘Otho the Great’, ed. Jack Stillinger (New York, 1988).Google Scholar
  9. Brown, Sue, Joseph Severn: A Life. The Rewards of Friendship (Oxford, 2009).Google Scholar
  10. Burgess, Anthony, ABBA ABBA (London, 1977).Google Scholar
  11. Byrne, Katherine, Tuberculosis in the Victorian Literary Imagination (Cambridge, 2011).Google Scholar
  12. Carel, Havi, Jane Macnaughton and James Dodd, ‘Invisible Suffering: Breathlessness in and Beyond the Clinic’, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 3.4 (April 2015), at http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(15)00115-0/fulltext.
  13. Clark, James, Medical Notes on Climate, Diseases, Hospitals, and Medical Schools in France, Italy, and Switzerland (London, 1820).Google Scholar
  14. Daniel, Thomas M., Pioneers of Medicine and Their Impact on Tuberculosis (Rochester, NY, 2000).Google Scholar
  15. de Almeida, Hermione, Romantic Medicine and John Keats (New York and London, 1991).Google Scholar
  16. Dubos, René and Jean Dubos, The White Plague: Tuberculosis, Man and Society (1952; New Brunswick, NJ, 1987).Google Scholar
  17. Edwards, Steve, ‘Experiencing the Meaning of Breathing’, The Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, 6.1 (2006), at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/20797222.2006.11433911.
  18. Fairclough, Mary, The Romantic Crowd: Sympathy, Controversy and Print Culture (Cambridge, 2013).Google Scholar
  19. Gittings, Robert, John Keats (London, 1968).Google Scholar
  20. Godwin, William, The Pantheon; or Ancient History of the Gods of Greece and Rome. Intended to facilitate the Understanding of the Classical Authors, and of the Poets in General. For the Use of Schools, and Young Persons of Both Sexes. By Edward Baldwin, Esq. (London, 1806).Google Scholar
  21. Goellnicht, Donald C., The Poet-Physician: Keats and Medical Science (Pittsburgh, PA, 1984).Google Scholar
  22. Hunt, Leigh, The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt; with Reminiscences of Friends and Contemporaries (3 vols, London, 1850).Google Scholar
  23. ———, The Feast of the Poets, in The Reflector, A Quarterly Magazine, on Subjects of Philosophy, Politics, and the Liberal Arts. Conducted by the Editor of the Examiner (2 vols, London, 1811–12).Google Scholar
  24. Keats, John, John Keats. The Complete Poems, ed. John Barnard (1973; 3rd edn, Harmondsworth, 1977).Google Scholar
  25. ———, The Letters of John Keats 1814–1821, ed. Hyder Edward Rollins (2 vols, Cambridge, MA, 1958 rpt. 1972).Google Scholar
  26. ———, The Poetical Works of John Keats, ed. H. V. Garrod (2nd edn, Oxford, 1958).Google Scholar
  27. Lemprière, John, Bibliotheca Classica; or, A Classical Dictionary (Reading, 1788).Google Scholar
  28. Livesley, Brian, ‘“Little Keats” and His Congenital Diseases’, Keats-Shelley Review, 26.2 (September 2012).Google Scholar
  29. Marggraf Turley, Richard, Bright Stars. John Keats, Barry Cornwall and Romantic Literary Culture (Liverpool, 2009).Google Scholar
  30. ———, Keats’s Boyish Imagination (London, 2004).Google Scholar
  31. Marggraf Turley, Richard, Jayne Elisabeth Archer and Howard Thomas, ‘Keats, “To Autumn”, and the New Men of Winchester’, Review of English Studies, 63.4 (2012).Google Scholar
  32. Marten, Benjamin, A New Theory of Consumptions, more especially of a Phthisis, or a Consumption of the Lungs (London, 1720).Google Scholar
  33. Matthews, G. M. (ed.), Keats: The Critical Heritage (London, 1971).Google Scholar
  34. Maude, Ulrika, ‘“My Quiet Breath”: Keats and Beckett Writing Breathing’, at http://lifeofbreath.org/2015/05/bristol-life-of-breath-launch-event/.
  35. Milnes, Richard Monckton, Life, Letters and Literary Remains, of John Keats (2 vols, London, 1848).Google Scholar
  36. Newey, Vincent, ‘Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, and Keats’s Epic Ambitions’, The Cambridge Companion to Keats, ed. Susan J. Wolfson (Cambridge, 2001).Google Scholar
  37. O’Gorman, Francis, ‘Coleridge, Keats, and the Science of Breathing’, Essays in Criticism, 61.4 (2011).Google Scholar
  38. Parson, Donald, Portraits of Keats (Cleveland, 1954).Google Scholar
  39. Perkins, R. M. and D. B. Resnik, ‘The Agony of Agonal Respiration: Is the Last Gasp Necessary?’, Journal of Medical Ethics, 28.3 (2002), at http://jme.bmj.com/content/28/3/164.full.
  40. Pladek, Brittany, ‘“In Sickness not Ignoble”: Soul-making and the Pains of Identity in the Hyperion Poems’, Studies in Romanticism, 54.3 (2015).Google Scholar
  41. Plasa, Carl, ‘Revision and Repression in Keats’s Hyperion: “Pure Creations of the Poet’s Brain”’, Keats-Shelley Journal, 44 (1995).Google Scholar
  42. Plumly, Stanley, Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography (New York, 2008).Google Scholar
  43. Porter, Roy, ‘Consumption: Disease of a Consumer Society?’, Consumption and the World of Goods, ed. John Brewer and Roy Porter (London, 1993).Google Scholar
  44. Roe, Nicholas, John Keats: A New Life (New Haven and London, 2013).Google Scholar
  45. ———, John Keats and the Culture of Dissent (Oxford, 1997).Google Scholar
  46. Rossetti, William Michael, The Life of John Keats (London, 1887).Google Scholar
  47. Severn, Joseph, Joseph Severn, Letters and Memoirs, ed. Grant F. Scott (Aldershot and Burlington, 2005).Google Scholar
  48. Sharp, William, The Life and Letters of Joseph Severn (London, 1892).Google Scholar
  49. Sharpe, James Birch, Elements of Anatomy; Designed for the Use of Students in the Fine Arts (London, 1818).Google Scholar
  50. Shelley, Percy Bysshe, The Major Works, eds. Zachary Leader and Michael O’Neill (Oxford, 2003).Google Scholar
  51. Smith, Hillas, ‘John Keats: Poet, Patient, Physician’, Clinical Infectious Diseases, 6.3 (1984).Google Scholar
  52. ———, ‘The Strange Case of Mr. Keats’s Tuberculosis’, Clinical Infectious Diseases, 38.7 (2004).Google Scholar
  53. Stillinger, Jack, The Texts of Keats’s Poems (Cambridge, MA, 1974).Google Scholar
  54. Taylor, Anya, ‘Superhuman Silence: Language in Hyperion’, Studies in English Literature, 19.4 (1979).Google Scholar
  55. Vatalaro, Paul A., Shelley’s Music: Fantasy, Authority, and the Object Voice (Aldershot, 2009).Google Scholar
  56. White, R. S., John Keats. A Literary Life (Basingstoke and New York, 2010).Google Scholar
  57. ———, Keats as a Reader of Shakespeare (London, 1987).Google Scholar
  58. ———, ‘“Like Esculapius of Old”: Keats’s Medical Training’, Keats-Shelley Review, 12 (1998).Google Scholar
  59. Wrigley, Richard, Roman Fever: Influence, Infection and the Image of Rome, 1700–1870 (New Haven, CT, 2013).Google Scholar
  60. Young, Thomas, A Practical and Historical Treatise on Consumptive Diseases (London, 1815).Google Scholar
  61. Ziegenhagen, Timothy, ‘Keats, Professional Medicine, and the Two Hyperions’, Literature and Medicine, 21.2 (2002).Google Scholar

Nineteenth-Century Journals and Newspapers

  1. Blackwood’s Magazine. Google Scholar
  2. The Examiner. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cardiff UniversityCardiffUK

Personalised recommendations