Shelley Unbound

  • G. Kim Blank
Part of the Macmillan Studies in Romanticism book series (SR)


To Wordsworth, Alastor, The Sunset, Prince Athanase, Verses Written on a Celandine and Julian and Maddalo are in various ways and to various extents Shelle’s attempts to resolve his ambivalent identification with Wordsworth and Wordsworth’s central figures (as well as his attempt to engage Wordsworth’s poetic lexicon). And up until Julian and Maddalo this identification has been a source of restrictive anxiety yet poetic productivity. The Maniac, like the protagonists in those other poems, represents a failure or failed vision, a poet whose values and powers of poetic articulation have deserted him.


Central Figure Creative Power Poetic Language Paternal Authority Human Passion 
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  1. 1.
    Arthur Clutton-Brock, Shelley: The Man and the Poet (1909; rev. edn, London, 1923) p. 168.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Anna Balakian, ‘Influence and Literary Fortune: The Equivocal Junction of Two Methods’, Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature, xi (1962) p. 29.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    David Simpson, Irony and Authority in Romantic Poetry (London, 1979) p. 135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 6.
    Recorded by Edward John Trelawney, Records of Shelley, Byron and the Author (London, 1878) vol. i, p. 118. (Originally published as Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron, 1858.)Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    G. M. Matthews has said that Julian and Maddalo ‘persistently echoes or anticipates’ the later poem, and he lists a large number of parallels (see G. M. Matthews, Julian and Maddalo: The Draft and the Meaning’, Studia Neophilologica, xxxv (1963) pp. 73–4). Matthews says that a ‘lonely, tormented, yet defiant figure stands at the centre’ of both poems: Prometheus’s origins are thus to be found in aspects of the Maniac, just as the Maniac’s origins are to be found in the Poet of Alastor.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry (Oxford University Press, 1971) p. 79.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Harold Bloom, Shelley’s Mythmaking (1959; Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1969) p. 106.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Earl Wasserman, Shelley: A Critical Reading (Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971) p. 255.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘Prometheus Unbound’: A Variorum Edition (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1959) p. 309.Google Scholar
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    Benjamin Kurtz, The Pursuit of Death: A Study of Shelley’s Poetry (1933; Folcroft, Pa., 1969) p. 158.Google Scholar
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    William H. Hildebrand, ‘On Three Prometheuses: Shelley’s Two and Mary’s One’, Serif, xi (1974) p. 3.Google Scholar
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    See Leon Waldoff, ‘The Father-Son Conflict in Prometheus Unbound: The Psychology of a Vision’, Psychoanalytic Review, lxii (1975) pp. 79–96.Google Scholar
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    See, for example: William H. Marshall, ‘The Father-Child Symbolism in Prometheus Unbound’, Modern Language Quarterly, xxii (1961) pp. 41–5;Google Scholar
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  18. 20.
    Two important essays point to this tendency in the poem: V. A. De Luca, ‘The Style of Millennial Announcement in Prometheus Unbound’, Keats-Shelley Journal, xxviii (1979) pp. 78–101; andGoogle Scholar
  19. Frederick Burwick, ‘The Language of Causality in Prometheus Unbound’, Keats-Shelley Journal, xxxi (1982) pp. 136–58. De Luca says that ‘the form and mood of the millennium … depend … for their articulation upon the announcements of eloquent voices. To render the hypothesis of a realized millennium as a convincing truth to the readers of the play, these voices must issue forth in clear, confident, and declarative utterance, as if assertive of things that are’ (p. 79). Frederick Burwick takes a different angle, but presses for the same emphasis. He observes that Prometheus’s ‘crucial gift, as titanic mediator between divinity and humanity, is language, the logos as reason and word’ (p. 136).Google Scholar
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    Daniel Hughes, ‘Prometheus Made Capable Poet in Act One of Prometheus Unbound’, Studies in Romanticism, xvii (1978) pp. 4, 11.Google Scholar
  21. 23.
    This struggling for a language of the sublime is the theme of Susan Hawk Brisman’s ‘“Unsaying His High Language”: The Problem of Voice in Prometheus Unbound’, Studies in Romanticism, xvi (1977) pp. 51–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 27.
    This idea is suggested by Ronald L. Lemoncelli, ‘Cenci as Corrupt Dramatic Poet’, English Language Notes, xvi (1978) pp. 103–117 (see especially pp. 104–6).Google Scholar
  23. 29.
    See Richard Cronin, Shelley’s Poetic Thoughts (London: Macmillan, 1981) p. 156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© G. Kim Blank 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Kim Blank
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VictoriaCanada

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