Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

John Keats on negative capability

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Portrait of John Keats by William Hilton

At once it struck me what quality went to form a man of achievement, especially in literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously—I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. This pursued through volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.

John Keats, in a letter to George and Thomas Keats

Written by nevalalee

June 2, 2013 at 9:50 am

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