In this innovative hybrid of biography, memoir, and criticism, Eric G. Wilson describes how John Keats gave him solace during a bout of mental illness in spring 2012. While on a tour of the principal sites in Keats s life ranging from his London medical school to the small room in Rome where he died Wilson discovered analogies between the poet s troubles and his own. He was most struck by Keats s enlivening vision of the soul.
For Keats, we don t possess but rather make a soul. We do this by imaginatively transforming our suffering into empathy toward humans and nature alike. Tracking this idea in Keats s tumultuous yet exhilarating life and work, Wilson struggles to envision his depression anew, desperate to overcome the apathy alienating him from his family."
How to Make a Soul "offers fresh perspectives on Keats s pragmatism, irony, comedy, ethics, and aesthetics, but is above all a lyrical celebration of those galvanizing instances when life springs into art."