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How to Make a Soul: The Wisdom of John Keats
by Eric G. Wilson
Northwestern University Press, 2016
eISBN: 978-0-8101-3195-8 | Paper: 978-0-8101-3193-4 | Cloth: 978-0-8101-3194-1
Library of Congress Classification PR4837.W55 2015
Dewey Decimal Classification 821.7

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
In this innovative hybrid of biography, memoir, and criticism, Eric G. Wilson describes how John Keats gave him solace during a bout of mental illness in spring 2012. While on a tour of the principal sites in Keats’s life—ranging from his London medical school to the small room in Rome where he died—Wilson discovered analogies between the poet’s troubles and his own. He was most struck by Keats’s enlivening vision of the soul.



For Keats, we don’t possess but rather make a soul. We do this by imaginatively transforming our suffering into empathy toward humans and nature alike. Tracking this idea in Keats’s tumultuous yet exhilarating life and work, Wilson struggles to envision his depression anew, desperate to overcome the apathy alienating him from his family.



How to Make a Soul
offers fresh perspectives on Keats’s pragmatism, irony, comedy, ethics, and aesthetics, but is above all a lyrical celebration of those galvanizing instances when life springs into art.



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