The Nascent Mind of Shelley

The Nascent Mind of Shelley

The Nascent Mind of Shelley

The Nascent Mind of Shelley

Excerpt

This book has been written in order to demonstrate the high degree of community in Shelley's main ideas and the relevance to his poetry of their worth and weight. For this purpose I have given a full account of the earliest writings in prose and verse to the year 1814 and focused the argument on the 'philosophical poem' of Queen Mab, the garner of his cruder speculations and the first sketch of his indeterminate theology. And since in him the boy or man was extraordinarily close to the artist and the seeker for truth, it seemed necessary to tell the story of his life to the spring of 1813, when the poem was sent to the press and a period of his personal evolution distinctly ends. For I could not talk of that chapter of his thinking without some talk of him, and could not talk of him without his history. I have tried, however, to tell the tale so as to give the background of the novels, pamphlets, or poems, and to make out the moral essence, not attempting to put in all the known facts. The narrative, therefore, does not pretend to add to our historical knowledge or to rest on any research deeper than the printed sources. Much has been written lately on Shelley's life and the lives of his friends; letters and diaries, published for the first time in the last few years, have afforded us new light; and we have the advantage of the massive biographies by Professor W. E. Peck and Professor Newman Ivy White. Moreover, the discussion and interpretation of the poems and their contents has come on fuller and faster. My debts are many, and I have acknowledged them in particular as they occurred. But I do not claim to have read all the books on Shelley, and have had to content myself with the primary documents and a certain number of the commentaries and aids. One obligation anyone writing on my subject is likely to incur. The philosophical data are exhaustively assembled and thoroughly canvassed by Professor Ellsworth Barnard in Shelley's Religion, University of Minnesota Press, 1937. Mr. Edmund Blunden's recent biography of the poet came out after my work had gone to the press, and to my regret I have not had the use of it.

This work was pursued under the encouragement of Ernest de Sélincourt, whose generous nature and liberal and incisive . . .

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