'The Flood of Rich Language: John Keats, Lord Byron and Anthony Burgess': A Lecture to Celebrate John Keats's Birthday at the Keats-Shelley House, 31 October, 18.30
'The Flood of Rich Language: John Keats, Lord Byron and Anthony Burgess'
A lecture by Andrew Biswell
This lecture considers three writers who spent time, under very different circumstances, in Rome. For Keats, an admirer of Italian culture, it was the place where he endured his final illness, and where he began what he called his 'posthumous existence.' To Byron it was the thrilling 'city of the soul' described in Canto 4 of Childe Harold, a place of passion and noxious smells. Anthony Burgess, who lived in Rome in the 1970s, wrote three novels and a series of essays about his adventures in the city. In his novel Abba Abba, Burgess imagines a meeting in Rome between Keats and the poet Belli, and he speculates that Keats might have developed into an English equivalent of Belli. Reciting Keats's poems at the Keats-Shelley House on the Piazza di Spagna, Burgess underwent a strange experience that he describes in his autobiography. He also wrote a non-fiction book of literary history in which he considered the reputations of Keats and Byron. This preoccupation with Romantic-era poets finds its most characteristic expression in Byrne, Burgess's final novel-in-verse, posthumously published and written in imitation of Keats and Byron.
Andrew Biswell is Professor of Modern Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and Director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation.
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