Keats and the Holocaust: Notes towards a post-temporalism

Noyes Keller Grovier

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Abstract

This article begins by asking what it means for meaning to exist in literature. As an answer to this question, it is suggested that meaning is never wholly present, never immanent, but is endlessly emergent—always, as it were, imminent. In the light of this proposition, it is argued that critical preoccupation either with deliberate literary allusion on the one hand, or with unintentional historical elision on the other, as the basis for establishing existing meaning within a text, is misguided. Our determination to locate allusions and elisions is based on the supposition that meaning is principally to be traced back to events, enunciations, and anxieties occurring in the past. But after summoning and modifying emphases of Meister Eckhart, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and T.S. Eliot, it is suggested that the meaning of a given work may be as significantly shaped by the introduction into the tradition of subsequent texts as by the excavation of earlier ones. As illustration, the article considers the unexpectedly impressionable nature of John Keats's ode ‘To Autumn’ when read in the presence of the powerful elegy that Geoffrey Hill composed nearly a century and a half later, ‘September Song’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-373
Number of pages13
JournalLiterature and Theology
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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