John Keats- The Notion of Negative Capability and Poetic Vision

Mukesh Kumar


John Keats has been remembered as one of the greatest British romantic poets in British English Literature. He was a pure poet. His vision of Poetry was never distorted by theories. He coined the phrase ‘Negative Capability’ in a letter written to his brothers George and Thomas for the first and last time. The notion of ‘Negative Capability’ describes the capacity of human beings to trust and revise their contexts. It describes the ability of the individual to perceive, think and operate beyond any presupposition of a predetermined capacity of the human being. He did so in criticism of Coleridge, who he thought sought knowledge over beauty. Throughout his poetry and letters Keats proposes theory that beauty is valuable in itself and that it does not need to declare anything for us to know that it is important. With the collaboration of Benjamin Bailey, Keats’s realization was itself a further argument for the need of “disinterestedness” and a further indication of the futility, in a universe of uncertainties, of the belief, assertive postures we assume. As Keats says“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affection and the truth of imagination – what the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth whether it existed before or not.”It characterizes an impersonal or objective, the author who maintains aesthetic distance, as opposed to a subjective author who is personally involved with the characters and actions represented in a work of Literature, and opposed to an author who uses a literary work to present his personal beliefs.


Negative Capability, Disinterestedness, Aesthetic Distance, Beauty, Truth, Odes, Poet, Imagination

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