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Title: The meaning of the Orient in Keats's consciousness: initial separateness and ultimate fusion
Authors: Sadiq, Ebtisam Ali
Keywords: Orient
Keats's consciousness
British museum
Issue Date: 1992
Publisher: King Saud University
Citation: Journal of King Saud University, Arts: 4 (1);3-23
Abstract: This study aims at uncovering the meaning of the Orient in Keats'sconsciousness as it surfaces in his writings. The investigation discovers more than one Orient in Keats's works. There is a historical, a fictional, and a political Orient. This variety is a direct result of Keats's exposure to different sources of knowledge about the Orient. Historical sources, for example, attach to the Orient ancient wisdom and architectural greatness. The poet's readings of Oriental tales, on the other hand, create in his mind an image of the Orient as an exotic land of magic, beauty, romance, heroic figures and deeds. Moreover, his exposure to contemporary economic and colonial interest in India creates an image of the Orient as a weal-thy land of jewels and spices. The three Oriental realms do not stand separate in Keats's consciousness. They amalgamate into a single whole. The process of amalgamation allows fictional elements in Keats's consciousness to tower above historical ones. History loses shape, force, and importance. All sense of distinction between the dif-ferent Oriental realms disappears. A large and fluid concept of the Orient finds its way into Keats's con-sciousness. Geographically, his Orient extends from India as far West as the Atlantic Ocean. Historically, it begins with the First Man and moves up to the poet's own times. And culturally, it is the exotic and weal-thy land of magic, beauty, romance, and heroism. Into Keats's large and fluid concept of the Orient Greece also falls. Greece's geographic proximity to the Mediterranean countries, its past military, commercial and cultural contacts with these countries and the correspondance of the elements of magic, beauty, romance and heroism in Greek myths to these elements in the Orient allow Greece to become part of the Orient in Keats's consciousness. However, the poet's closer and stronger knowledge of Greece, as compared with his scanty and inaccurate knowledege of the Orient, gives Greece a central position among the different Oriental realms in his consciousness. This conception of Greece as a center of a Great Oriental civilization remains unprecedented among the Western European writers, who commonly conceive of Greece as the source and the origin of their differ-ent Western civilizations.
Description: Assistant Professor, Department of English, Coilege of Arts, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
URI: http://digital.library.ksu.edu.sa/paper2046.html
Appears in Collections:Journal of the King Saud University - Arts

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