Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 7, 2011

John Keats and the Ethics of Disappearance

Jennifer Wawrzinek
From the journal


This paper argues that the process of imaginative engagement with the world and its others depicted in the work of John Keats is one that is underwritten by the dissolution and annihilation of the poetic self as fundamental to the ethical relation. Through an examination of Keats's letters to Fanny Brawne from the Isle of Wight and his long poem entitled The Fall of Hyperion. A Dream, I illustrate the way in which the ethical relation generated by the self in retreat before the loved one gestures towards the poem's insistence upon the opening of culture and society to the ethical concerns of that which is beyond language and which is yet to arrive. I argue that the Keatsian ethical relation disables claims to power upon which identity and knowledge are constructed in order to configure the realm of society and culture as one that must be necessarily open to the world and the future if it is to avoid the oppression and destruction generated by a knowledge gained at the expense of others and the world. It simultaneously gestures towards a notion of community beyond identity and underscores the sheer possibility inherent to relation in general.

Published Online: 2011-04-07
Published in Print: 2011-April