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Bright Star, Green Light

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What to expect

A dazzling biography of two interwoven, tragic lives: John Keats and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

‘Highly engaging … Go now, read this book’ THE TIMES

‘For awhile after you quit Keats,’ Fitzgerald once wrote, ‘All other poetry seems to be only whistling or humming.’

John Keats died two hundred years ago, in February 1821. F. Scott Fitzgerald defined a decade that began one hundred years ago, the Jazz Age.

In this biography, prizewinning author Jonathan Bate recreates these two shining, tragic lives in parallel. Not only was Fitzgerald profoundly influenced by Keats, titling Tender is the Night and other works from the poet’s lines, but the two lived with echoing fates: both died young, loved to drink, were plagued by tuberculosis, were haunted by their first love, and wrote into a new decade of release, experimentation and decadence.

Luminous and vital, this biography goes through the looking glass to meet afresh two of the greatest and best-known Romantic writers in their twinned centuries.

Critics Review

  • ‘Keats is unmissably present throughout Fitzgerald’s work … [Bate] borrows a classic form to pay tribute to the broadest, extratemporal similarities between Keats and … Fitzgerald’
    Sunday Times

    ‘Keats was Fitzgerald’s guiding star … An energetic and highly engaging game of literary ping-pong across the ages. Life, writing and inspiration are served and returned in a rapid rally of ideas … What an immensely charismatic pair they are … Powerful … Go now, read this book’
    Laura Freeman, The Times

    ‘A daring, dizzying attempt to connect Keats and F Scott Fitzgerald has plenty to take pleasure in … Bate, whose recent biography of Wordsworth I admired, is at his best when he zeroes in on the work: his feeling for it, by being so exacting, is infectious, especially in the case of Keats … But in the end, the principal achievement of this pairing is to remind us of the way that literature connects us’
    Rachel Cooke, Observer

    ‘Admirable … lively and well researched … Bate’s book is certainly an excellent introduction to each writer … satisfying, engaging and accessible … well designed to make us return to
    the work of both Keats and his ‘Keatzian’ devotee’
    New Statesman

    ‘Bate tells the tales of these accursed creatures frightfully well’
    Daily Mail

    ‘With a fine-tuned ear for poetic language, a master-biographer’s eye for the revealing detail, and an astonishing mental filing system that recognizes countless meaningful matches among the works and lives of these two great, doomed writers, Jonathan Bate has written a wonderfully illuminating and moving book’
    Robert Watson, Distinguished Professor of English, UCLA

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