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Keats and the Visual (The Pre-Raphaelites) : graduation thesis


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Krilanović, Jelena. (2012). Keats and the Visual (The Pre-Raphaelites) : graduation thesis. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Jukić Gregurić, Tatjana].

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The Pre-Raphaelites‘ paintings from Keats‘ poems testify to the fact that they analyzed them and recognized their main themes and ideas. However, it can be claimed that their paintings do not only show what is present in Keats‘ poems. Instead of strictly following the text, the Pre-Raphaelites incorporated their personal preoccupations and their views on art in their paintings. This approach is indicative of the fact that one of the Pre-Raphaelite aims was attributing the same importance to the literary text and its illustration. The Pre-Raphaelites did not think the text was a self-explanatory work to which a painting was just an additional content. Also, they did not think that a painting is necessarily dependent on the text and that it can be understood only if read with respect to the text. On the contrary, they were struggling to demonstrate the possibilities of painting‘s expression. The fact that they chose Keats‘ poetry for that is no surprise – after all, Keats himself recognized the sisterhood of arts and sought to reconcile the two. What remains debatable is the question if the Pre-Raphaelites really mispainted Keats. Keats‘ poetry can be read in many ways and for example one may wonder how wrong Hunt was when he embedded a moral in his painting. Jack Stillinger claims that The Eve of St. Agnes’ indeterminacy, uncertainty and the rest make every individual's reading possible: in effect, the text of a complex poem validates what the reader wants to read in it. Thus for some readers, The Eve of St. Agnes has been (...) a poem about love (...), while for others it is a poem about authenticity of dreams, about stratagems, about wish-fulfillment, about artistic creativity, about Gothic literature, about family politics, about the crisis of feudalism, about escape, about critical interpretation and so on and so on (2004: 257). Keats‘ poems are ambiguous and offer different clues that support various interpretations. Every reading can be supported by certain arguments that make it legitimate and this is why it is difficult to claim that some interpretations of Keats‘ poems are completely false. According to Stillinger, ―[t]he chief responsibility for understanding the poem continues to lie with the reader, where Keats lodged it from the beginning‖ (Ringel, 2004: 1). The fact that the Pre-Raphaelites recognized this in Keats‘ poetry enabled them to make the most beautiful paintings from his poems, the paintings that remained faithful to Keats, but also to themselves.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Jukić Gregurić, Tatjana
Date Deposited: 28 May 2012 15:05
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2014 23:24

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