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Title: "Of heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire": Sacredness and Eroticism in Keats's The Eve of St. Agnes
Authors: Chen, Kang-po
Contributors: 文山評論:文學與文化
Keywords: John Keats ; The Eve of St. Agnes ; sacredness ; eroticism
Date: 2020-06
Issue Date: 2020-11-12 14:30:45 (UTC+8)
Abstract: Modern interpretations of John Keats's The Eve of St. Agnes have been dominated by the dichotomy between the "idealist reading," which regards the sexual union between Porphyro and Madeline as a fulfilment of Romantic love and imagination that prevails over social restrictions, and the "sceptical reading," which considers such a union a potential rape of Madeline by Porphyro. In a departure from the preceding research, this paper focuses on Keats's synthesis of the religious and the erotic and proposes that he construes religious sacredness as a unique experience of eroticism in both Christian and non-Christian contexts. First, the ritual of St. Agnes's Eve signifies Keats's eroticisation of Christian images, which reincorporates sexual desire into the concepts of resurrection and the second coming of Jesus. By doing so, Keats looks forward to a divine intimacy of sexual vitality, in contrast to the weak and sterile state represented by the Beadsman's asceticism. Second, with pagan images such as Merlin, the mermaid, and Medusa, Keats complicates the interaction between Madeline and Porphyro by dissolving the oft-assumed power relationship between them. The Eve of St. Agnes shows a unique aspect of Keats's idea of sacred experience, which is essentially sensual and erotic, and offers an alternative angle to approach the poet's understanding of religion and its connection to poetic creation.
Relation: 文山評論:文學與文化, 13(2), 153-181
Data Type: article
DOI 連結: 
Appears in Collections:[文山評論:文學與文化 THCI Core] 期刊論文

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