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Reading The Eve of St. AgnesThe Multiples of Complex Literary Transaction$
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Jack Stillinger

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780195130225

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195130225.001.0001

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The Literary Transaction

(p.2) (p.3) One Introduction
Reading The Eve of St. Agnes

Jack Stillinger

Oxford University Press

This book discusses the varied ways in which John Keats’s poem, “The Eve of St. Agnes,” can be read and understood. The interpretations of readers spanning generations—from the poem’s milieu to the present, with implications for future readers as well—are collected and analyzed to provide a rich and comprehensive data pool for the book’s theories. The author posits that there is no single definitive reading for the poem and that this situation—the existence of abundant and diverse interpretations—is actually the norm rather than the exception when evaluating canonical works of literature. To provide a framework for the succeeding analyses, the interrelationships between the author, the text, and the reader—collectively termed as the “literary transaction” by the author—are examined to clarify the instances of creativity and interpretation in the communication chain. The remaining sections then discuss the poem in more detail.

Keywords:   John Keats, St. Agnes, poem, readers, literature, canonical, literary transaction, author, text

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