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The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Critical Biography

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The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Critical Biography

John Worthen

ISBN: 978-1-118-53403-8 February 2019 Wiley-Blackwell 504 Pages

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Description

Drawing especially on the many scholarly discoveries of recent years, this biography examines the life – and death ‒ of one of the greatest Romantic poets. Based on sceptical historical investigation and featuring an in-depth look at Shelley’s personal, financial and familial situation, it builds a compelling narrative about a controversial writer and thinker whose personal and philosophical convictions caused much turmoil during his short yet extraordinarily influential life.

The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley reveals sides of the author not often studied. It looks at Shelley as an intensely loving, thoughtful and responsible man and father, who (except in one case) took exemplary care of the women he loved and who fell in love with him. It shows how significant his status as a gentleman was; it examines his poetry, letters, notebooks  and discursive prose so that readers can comprehend the most important concerns of his life; it explores the financial and medical grounds for his years of exile; it is also the first biography to take account of his  recently discovered early long poem  the Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things.

This biography offers readers a unique look at a famous poet, scholar, gentleman, democrat, atheist and tragic icon of English Romanticism.

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgements xi

Abbreviations and Texts xiii

Foreword xvii

Part I Background, Foreground 1792–1811 1

1 A Scholar, a Gentleman, and a Poet 1792 –1810 3

2 ‘Bit’ 1796 –1811 12

3 Panting to Seize the Wings of Morn 1810 –1811 21

4 Printing Freaks 1810 –1811 32

5 The Necessity of Atheism, Expulsion & Debt 1811 43

Part II Lover of Mankind, Democrat & Atheist 1811–1818 55

6 A Shelley Business! 1811 57

7 My New Sister 1811 –1813 67

8 Tan‐yr‐allt 1813 78

9 Queen Mab: Shadows of the Dream 1812 –1813 83

10 A Rash & Heartless Union 1813 –1814 96

11 Mary Godwin 1814 103

12 This is a Vampire 1814 –1815 113

13 Alastor 1815 –1816 124

14 Geneva and Byron 1816 135

15 A Series of Pain 1816 149

16 Drowned, Frozen, Dead 1816 158

17 Laon and Cythna: Writing against Death 1817 167

18 My Country Dear to Me Forever 1817 –1818 180

Part III Expatriation 1818–1821 191

19 Italy: As Light in the Sun, Throned 1818 193

20 Flowering Islands 1818 207

21 A Birth in Naples 1818 –1819 222

22 Exceeding Grief: The Cenci 1819 230

23 Prometheus Unbound 1819 240

24 Satiric Reality 1819 248

25 Beam‐Anatomising Prism 1819 –1820 258

26 Harmonious Madness 1820 268

27 Swellfoot the Tyrant 1820 280

28 Epipsychidion v. Flesh & Blood 1820–1821 291

29 Defending Poetry 1821 302

30 This Latest of my Orphans 1821 313

Part IV No Rest or Respite 1821–1822 321

31 Ariel to Miranda 1821 –1822 323

32 To the Villa Magni 1822 335

33 ‘The Triumph of Life’ 1822 342

34 Enchanted Heart 1822 349

35 Upon a Precipice 1822 362

36 Going to Join Friend Plato 1822 370

37 Beyond this Life 379

Notes 393

Bibliography 448

Index 457