The Poet-Physician

Keats and Medical Science

Donald Goellnicht has written a detailed account of Keats's medical training. . . .He makes expert use of the medical knowledge of the time and also of the particular views of the doctors whose lectures Keats attended. Then in four well-argued chapters he discusses the poet's knowledge of chemistry, botany, anatomy, and pathology, and how this knowledge coloured the phraseology of his poems and letters. . . . This is an admirable work of scholarship, which is bound to affect all serious criticism of Keats's work.
Modern Language Review

For six years of his brief like, Keats studied medicine, first as an apprentice in Edmonton and then as a medical student at GuyÆs Hospital in London. His biographers have generally glossed over this period of his life, and critics have ignored it and denied the influence of medical training on his poetry and thought.In this challenging reappraisal, Goellnicht argues that KeatsÆ writings reveal a distinct influence of science and medicine. Goellnicht researches KeatsÆ course work and texts to reconstruct the milieu of the early nineteenth-century medical student. He then explores the scientific resonances in KeatsÆÆ individual works, and convincingly shows the influence of his early medical training.

about the author

Donald C. Goellnicht

Donald C. Goellnicht is professor of English and Cultural Studies and associate dean of the School of Graduate Studies at McMaster University.

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Donald C. Goellnicht