Shelley's Adonais: A Critical Edition

Shelley's Adonais: A Critical Edition

Shelley's Adonais: A Critical Edition

Shelley's Adonais: A Critical Edition


Is China moving toward a liberal democracy? How does Western engagement with China contribute

to this enormous cultural shift? While still one of the most memorable and inflammatory moments in late 20th-century political history, the 1989 protest in Tiananmen Square seems to have accomplished little toward promoting political reform in contemporary China. However, the past decade has witnessed a tremendous shift in the way Chinese society and the Chinese economy are organized, and few would dispute that the country is experiencing a dramatic transition. Yijiang Ding assesses this extraordinary change in terms of changes in the formal conception of "democracy," and illustrates how this central reconstruction has drastically altered the former unity of state and society under the Leninist model. Drawing on new Chinese scholarship and political theory, Ding presents a sweeping and multidimensional picture of modern China at the political crossroads.


"Poetry," Shelley once observed, "requires in its developement severe attention." He was replying to Thomas Medwin, who had submitted some poetry to him, and he proceeded to comment: "I am happy to hear that Adonais pleased you." The juxtaposition of these comments is significant, for Shelley shaped and refined this poem into one of his most powerful and complex works. He himself referred to Adonais as "the least imperfect of my compositions," and critics generally have viewed Adonais as one of the finest poems of the nineteenth century and one of the great elegies in English literature.

The last critical edition of Adonais was that undertaken by William M. Rossetti in 1891, with additional information about classical sources added by A. O. Prickard in a revised edition in 1903. While Rossetti's edition is a model of the best criticism of that era, its relevance and value have been significantly diminished by the extensive critical study of Adonais undertaken during the past eighty years. Scholars have learned much about the biographical background of the poem, including Shelley's relations with Keats and Shelley's attitudes toward the hostile Tory critics who so disliked the work of both poets. Many commentators have written about the place of the poem in the elegiac tradition and the influence of Dante, Spenser, Milton, and other poets. Critics have paid considerable attention, particularly within the past forty years, to the structure, thematic development, imagery, mythological elements, and philosophical orientation of the poem. As a result, there now exist a more informed understanding of its psychological and philosophical depths and a greater appreciation of its complexity and originality.

The present edition builds on Rossetti's work by synthesizing the extensive scholarship since its appearance, providing a transcription of the manuscript drafts of the poem in the Bodleian Library, and establishing a sound text for the poem itself (together with that of the Preface and the fragments . . .

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