A previously overlooked Gothic subtext in John Keats's Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, his 1818 and 1819 fragmentary works on poetic election, calls his epic project of Bildung into question. Whether it is Saturn, Apollo, or himself that the narrator witnesses, his returns to scenes where an effeminized male body is subjected to pain and domination become a way to explore questions of legitimation and empowerment when those can no longer be presupposed by the writing subject. While recent readings of these poems have tended to align their fragmentation with Keats's refusal of mastery, this essay claims that Keats identifies male masochism and effeminacy as a perverse condition of, rather than an impediment to, the attainment of symbolic power. Apollo's eroticized submission in Hyperion and the poet's self-castigating rituals in The Fall of Hyperion (as well as his return to the Titans) stage the very experience that they supposedly stand in the way of-legitimation. Not only does bodily dispossession directly measure symbolic possession, but also, through his doubles, Keats recognizes himself in this negative loss of power.
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