Keats' Poems and Letters

Indolence as Productivity: Deconstruction, Foucault and Paradox in Keats’s Negative Capability College

Michel Foucault, in his seminal essay, What Is An Author?, considers the relationship between author, text, and reader: “…the quibbling and confrontations that a writer generates between himself and his text cancel out the signs of his particular individuality.”(Foucault, 1477) Forms of discourse, and the “author function’s” impact on these established forms, are theoretically questioned, while simultaneously speculating the absence of author in a text. Keats’s poetic character and temperament, as evidenced from his letters and exercised in his odes, can be characterized by his ideal of negative capability, which he defines as a state of mind in which “man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason."(Cox, 109) Keats is describing the capacity that human beings possess to transcend and revise their contexts; it is an inherent rejection of the attempt to formulate theories or categorical knowledge, particularly in poetic practice. In the narrative that Keats’s letters cast, the concept arises only once, formally, however, Keats’s development of an aesthetic theory unique to him is ever present. In order to contextualize this development, various passages from...

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