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February 13, 2007

Not Quite Convinced

Austin, ''Toward Resolving Keats's Grecian Urn Ode -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Maybe I am just irritable at this late hour, but I really was annoyed with this essay. I did like how Austin addressed each widely accepted approach to looking at the last lines of the poem. It was very logically presented and it ia always more convincing to address the opposing views. Yet, I am still so unsure about each interpretation and what they are exactly and what they mean. "truth and beauty are the same (1) in life, (2) in Keat's dream world, (3) in some Platonic or Absolute reality, (4) in the world of the Urn, (5) in imaginative or artistic perception, and (6) in eternity" (48).

Where the heck did they get those options from? They were derived from the poem? But, how? The second to last sentence also really bugs me: Without wrenching the syntax, we can read the final lines as "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty' in eternity - that is all you know or need to know on earth of eternity'" (56). If that is how Keat's wanted us to read it, wouldn't he have written it that way?

Posted by LorinSchumacher at February 13, 2007 2:19 AM


I'm with you on not understanding everything. I guess I'm not really trying to understand every facet of every argument, though. I'm more or less trying to just see how the argument works instead of what the argument is (rhetoric not content).

I don't know if this is helping me or not, since I'm not feeling very confident about much with our class at the moment... However, I guess it's helpful to use separate approaches to each essay instead of just trying to think of what makes sense and what doesn't. Just a thought...

Posted by: Karissa at February 13, 2007 10:49 PM

The last line in the essay is referring to Austin's assumption that Keats's intent of this poem was about eternity and beauty and truth are the only things that humans need to know about eternity. The Urn represents the beauty and truth of that human that will be in eternity, or something like that.
Well that is what I got out of it.

Here is the thing Lorin, if Keats's just got right to his intention, would it still be an intriguing poem like it is now?

Posted by: Denamarie at February 14, 2007 12:59 PM

I thought Austin used Hirsch well enough that I understood Hirsch's approach better, but I didn't like how he used the 6 ideas. Like you said where did they come from, and he mentions there were more. I wanted to know what some of the others were, and how he got down to using just those 6. My biggest complaint was that the 6 he chose were similar in that they were all sort of an abstract idea. I wanted more clarity.

Posted by: Mitchell Steele at February 15, 2007 7:18 AM

Not to join in the with crowd here, but I concur - the part with six different scenarios was a little insane. Austin's approach almost seemed formalist, as he kept drawing conclusions fromt the text, but keeps it based in "reality," which is for another debate.

I didn't much care for the arguement being made and I agree that if Keats had wanted it to be as Austin felt it was, the Keats would have written it that way.

Posted by: Kevin at February 15, 2007 3:40 PM

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