Thursday, 3 September 2009


You've read the poems, now see the movie and visit the house.

I'm intrigued by the forthcoming film Bright Star, which charts the relationship between John Keats and Fanny Brawne. Films about major British poets are not thick on the ground, (Shakespeare in Love is the only recent example I can bring to mind) but the young, tubercular romantic figure that Keats cuts in the popular imagination makes him the obvious choice. The film is directed by Jane Campion, best known for The Piano, and always a watchable film-maker. It will be interesting to see how the film affects sales of Keats' poetry, especially with the genre being so well treated to such good effect by the recent BBC programmes. I wonder if we're in for a bout of Keats mania, in the same way that the Auden poems featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral were given such a boost by that film. I think we can rule out Keats and Fanny action figures, however.

I'm not sure which Keats lines now resonate most within the public consciousness, but my favourite poems are Ode on Melancholy, for its superb, melodramatic, gothic atmosphere and The Eve of St. Agnes for its bold evocation of the medieval and its narrative brilliance.

I was pleased to read that the Keats House in Hampstead has reopened after a major refurbishment. This is one of the many London landmarks that I am ashamed not to have visited, and I look forward to remedying this deficiency.


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