Bath Literature Festival: An obsession with death and dark literature
Prolific writer and commentator John Walsh contributes columns to the paper as well as writing features, interviews and restaurant reviews. He has been editor of The Independent Magazine, literary editor of the Sunday Times and features editor of the London Evening Standard.
Tuesday 05 March 2013
Two heavyweight speakers gave passionate talks on two titans of 19th-century poetry at The Independent Bath Literature Festival – focusing on their preoccupation with death.
James Runcie, the festival's director, explored John Keats' attitude to love and death. He showed how the tubercular Cockney bard, who died at 25, was obsessed with death: his verse was full of hesitant leave-takings. His morbid obsession, said Runcie, came from his medical studies at Guy's Hospital.
Alfred Lord Tennyson, Queen Victoria's favourite poet laureate, was also obsessed by death, according to his new biographer, John Batchelor – he called him "a Romantic in an unromantic age". Much of his most celebrated verse was written when he was scarcely in his 20s.
All his life, said Batchelor, he embraced the prospect of money, fame and honours to make up for the shameful fact that his rich grandfather had disinherited his sottish father. These talks brought history and poetry ringingly to life.
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
MOBO Awards 2014: Jess Glynne hits back at 'ridiculous' criticism of nominated white artists
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - review: Silly, sensational and sensitive
The Apprentice 2014: Nurun Ahmed and Lindsay Booth fired in double elimination
MOBO Awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board with four gongs
The Apprentice, episode 3 - review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with double elimination
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters