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KEATS, John.


London: C. & J. Ollier, 1817 Stock Code: 113377
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First edition of Keats's first book in the original boards

First edition of Keats's first book, in the original boards. Poems was published on 3 March 1817 by Charles and James Ollier, who were already publishing Shelley. The first of a mere three lifetime publications, it is a work of mainly youthful promise - Keats had appeared for the first time in print less than a year earlier, with a poem in the radical weekly The Examiner on 5 May 1816. The 1817 Poems attracted a few good reviews, but these were followed by the first of several harsh attacks by the influential Blackwood's Magazine, mainly by critics who resented Keats's avowed kinship with the despised Leigh Hunt. The best-known poem in the book is the sonnet "On first looking into Chapman's Homer", "by common consent one of its masterpieces in this form, having a close unsurpassed for the combined qualities of serenity and concentration" (Colvin), and described by ODNB as "an astonishing achievement, with a confident formal assurance and metaphoric complexity which make it one of the finest English sonnets. As Hunt generously acknowledged, it 'completely announced the new poet taking possession'" (ODNB).

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Octavo. Original light brown boards, printed paper label to spine. Housed in a green quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.


With the half-title. Wood engraving of Edmund Spenser on title page.


Spine darkened, light wear to spine and board edges, rear hinge cracked but holding, front joint and tail of spine professionally repaired. An excellent copy.


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