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Percy Bysshe Shelley

A Biography

James Bieri

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This major biography of Shelley, England’s most radical and controversial Romantic poet, is the first to appear in thirty years. Informed by the author’s extensive research, psychological insight, and recent scholarship on Shelley and his circle, the biography stresses the intimate relationship between the poet’s writing and his complex personality.

James Bieri draws upon his dual background as a Shelley scholar and a psychologist to create a compelling narrative of Shelley’s multifaceted life. Shelley’s personality transcends any entreaty either to see it "plain" or to be labeled with a…

This major biography of Shelley, England’s most radical and controversial Romantic poet, is the first to appear in thirty years. Informed by the author’s extensive research, psychological insight, and recent scholarship on Shelley and his circle, the biography stresses the intimate relationship between the poet’s writing and his complex personality.

James Bieri draws upon his dual background as a Shelley scholar and a psychologist to create a compelling narrative of Shelley’s multifaceted life. Shelley’s personality transcends any entreaty either to see it "plain" or to be labeled with a clinical diagnosis. Remarkably resilient, he was continually creative despite intervals of depression and periodic, hallucinatory panic attacks. Fascinated by the human psyche, he incorporated into his poetry his own self-analysis, including a remarkably sophisticated theory of love that provided the title to his most powerful erotic poem, Epipsychidion.

Bieri also probes Shelley's numerous emotional, romantic, and familial entanglements. Based on the author’s twenty years of research, the book includes new information on the discovery of Shelley’s older illegitimate half-brother; important letters of his father and grandfather; his mother’s early life, her letters about young Shelley, and her major influence upon Shelley; the first published portrait of Sophia Stacey, who beguiled Shelley in Florence; and further evidence on Shelley’s secretly adopted Neapolitan infant.

This biography offers a sympathetic and nuanced view of Shelley’s tumultuous life, personality, and poetry.

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Percy Bysshe Shelley

James Bieri

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Reviews

Reviews

Bieri's biography, which will surely be the definitive study of Shelley's life and work for many years to come, advances and enriches the state of contemporary Shelley studies in remarkable ways.

Bieri's detailed presentations and thoughtful analyses make this an especially admirable volume... This could well become the standard Shelley biography. Essential.

It is the life of the subject that really carries this book. Shelley's life was indeed sensational, tragic, and still contains mystery enough to stretch the mind... The achievement of this book is in its gathering together and careful presentation of evidence. It is the unfortunate life of Shelley that grips the reader throughout.

The young Shelley that emerges from this well-researched biography, the outcome of many years’ work, is in part the product of family personalities and tensions, but Bieri also respects the strength of Shelley’s own opinions.

A quietly magisterial feat of scholarship... All those who admire Shelley's work or wish to find out more about his life will gain much from these superbly researched and executed volumes.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
888
ISBN
9780801888618
Illustration Description
39 halftones
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Part I: Youth's Unextinguished Fire, 1792–1816
1. The Politics of Paternity
2. "An Infancy Outlasting Manhood": Mother
3. The Young Prometheus
4. Exiled to Education
5. "Untaught

Preface
Acknowledgments
Part I: Youth's Unextinguished Fire, 1792–1816
1. The Politics of Paternity
2. "An Infancy Outlasting Manhood": Mother
3. The Young Prometheus
4. Exiled to Education
5. "Untaught Foresters": Eton Madness
6. Gothic "Wild Boy" and Harriet Grove
7. A Radical Poetic Identity
8. Icarus at Oxford
9. Doubling after the Fall: Harriet Westbrook and Elizabeth Hitchener
10. Elopement and Betrayal
11. Seeking New Fathers: Keswick
12. The Irish Expedition
13. Wandering Reformer
14. Phantasmagoria at Tanyrallt
15. Marital Disengagement
16. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin
17. Births and Deaths
18. The Mirror of Self-Analysis
19. The Creative Swiss Summer
Part II: Exile of Unfulfilled Renown, 1816–1822
20. The Dark Autumn of Suicides
21. Albion House: The Last English Year
22. "Paradise of exiles, Italy"
23. Euganean Isles of Misery: Venice
24. Paradise of Devils: Naples
25. Roman Tragedy and Creativity
26. Leghorn's "sad reality"
27. "a voice from over the Sea"
28. Florentine Voices: Unacknowledged Legislator and Sophia Stacey
29. Poetic Mothers: Pisa and Leghorn
30. Baths of San Giuliano
31. "Emily... my heart's sister"
32. "A Love in desolation masked"
33. The Last Pisan Winter
34. Drawn to the Sea
35. A "watery eclipse"
36. Life Terminable and Interminable
Abbreviations
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

James Bieri

James Bieri is a retired professor of psychology at the University of Texas-Austin.