Jan 18 • 5M

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

Keats (Audio)

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People say, “We are the best educated generation in the history of the world!” Well, we certainly are the most indebted to colleges and universities. I don’t mean that we owe them a lot of gratitude for opening up to us the life of the mind, and the best that has been thought and written and wrought and done. They’re not much in that cultural and human business anymore, sad to say. I mean it literally. We owe them a lot of money. Where’s Karl Marx where you need him? Sipping sherry with his buddies in the faculty lounge, and scowling if a lowly student should happen to pass by.

Imagine, though, that you really are hungry for knowledge and the experience of artistic excellence. Your name is John Keats. You’re solidly out of the middle class, in training to be a physician, but really your heart is in poetry. But you haven’t had a prep school education, which means that you can’t read Latin or Greek, so you must rely on translators if you are going to sail to those far islands of the i…

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