April 22, 2007

It's All About the Culture- Except When It's Not

No lie, I fell asleep reading Garson's "Bodily Harm: Keat's Figures in the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'". But really, can you blame me? I come into it looking for a mind-altering text about the cultural relevance of reading "Ode on a Grecian Urn" through this perspective and am rewarded with...well, anything but.

"A successful attempt to capture in words a cultural icon like the urn would win him permanent place of honour in a culture that had invested heavily in such artefacts and in the values they had been made to stand for" (Garson 453).

Ok, so Greek culture was all the rage during Keat's time. Um...cool. And the British museum had Greek sculptures. Great. Ok, so what about the poem itself? While I know I just got done saying that this cultural criticism is my favorite form of interpretting literary texts, I feel, at least in this article, it needs to be balanced by something else as well. While culture can have a lot to do with a text, it's never the only thing. Hunting for the exact urn Keat's used when writing the text (a futile search if there ever was one) needs to be balanced by the words of the poem as well. Keep that in mind, Garson.

Garson, 'Bodily Harm" Keats's Figures in the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn''' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by VanessaKolberg at April 22, 2007 10:17 PM | TrackBack

I think that you have every right to believe that the search for I Keats' urn, but don't knock what Garson is saying altogether. She is trying to emphasize how the writing brought to life all of the images on the urns and other artwork that could have contributed to this poem. I agree that there could have been more analyzing of exactly what the words were saying, but at the same time I feel it necessary to defend Garson's efforts to bring cultural details into the light.

Posted by: Tiffany at April 25, 2007 9:16 PM

You mean you weren't enthralled by this essay to a point of penultimate ecstasy? You must be crazy.

Posted by: Dave Moio at April 26, 2007 2:22 PM
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