Shelley, Percy Bysshe. (1792 - 1822).
W o r k
- a radical nonconformist in every aspect of his life and thought: loved philosophy, scorned orthodoxy, and fought against injustice and oppression
P o e t r y :
- associated with the ‘Satanic School’
Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem (1813):
- an allegorical poem describing the journey through space of the disembodied soul of the mortal maiden Ianthe and the fairy queen Mab
- Mab reveals to Ianthe the woeful past, corrupted present, and the utopian future of the world
Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude (1816):
- on a young idealist poet discovering the human love too late
The Revolt of Islam (1818):
- on the heroic struggle for liberation of a brother and sister against the despotic oppressions of the Ottoman Empire
- condemns oriental despotism, but reflects also on the failure of the French Revolution and on the present state of Britain
The Mask of Anarchy (1819):
- a visionary poem calling for the revolution against the British repression
- a rhapsodic vision of love as a spiritual union beyond earthly limits
- an elegiac tribute to the dead John Keats, the triumphing hero even in the face of death
D r a m a :
- ‘lyrical drama’: minimises theatrical action in favour of a dramatic representation of imaginative motivation
The Cenci (1819):
- a tragedy based on a true story of the Italian Renaissance: a monstrous father violates his daughter, she murders him
Prometheus Unbound (1820):
- a ‘lyrical drama’, on Prometheus's battle against arbitrary tyranny
- Prometheus achieves a heightened state of consciousness and a liberation of both body/spirit from enemies both internal/external
- conclusion: Jupiter is overthrown and Prometheus is reunited with Asia
- a ‘lyrical drama’ inspired by the Greek rebellion against the Ottoman oppressors
(Picture: Amelia Curran. Source: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorPercy Bysshe Shelley. (1792 - 1822). British.
WorkPoet. Playwright. Author of Prometheus Unbound (1820).
GenresRomanticism. Poetry and drama.
Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.
Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.
Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.
Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.
Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.
"To know nor faith, nor love, nor law, to be / Omnipotent but friendless, is to reign."
From Prometheus Unbound (1820).