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.
James Bieri is a retired professor of psychology at the University of Texas-Austin.
PrefaceAcknowledgmentsPart I: Youth's Unextinguished Fire, 1792-18161. The Politics of Paternity2. "An Infancy Outlasting Manhood": Mother3. The Young Prometheus4. Exiled to Education5. "Untaught Foresters": Eton Madness6. Gothic "Wild Boy" and Harriet Grove7. A Radical Poetic Identity8. Icarus at Oxford9. Doubling after the Fall: Harriet Westbrook and Elizabeth Hitchener10. Elopement and Betrayal11. Seeking New Fathers: Keswick12. The Irish Expedition13. Wandering Reformer14. Phantasmagoria at Tanyrallt15. Marital Disengagement16. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin17. Births and Deaths18. The Mirror of Self-Analysis19. The Creative Swiss SummerPart II: Exile of Unfulfilled Renown, 1816-182220. The Dark Autumn of Suicides21. Albion House: The Last English Year22. "Paradise of exiles, Italy"23. Euganean Isles of Misery: Venice24. Paradise of Devils: Naples25. Roman Tragedy and Creativity26. Leghorn's "sad reality"27. "a voice from over the Sea"28. Florentine Voices: Unacknowledged Legislator and Sophia Stacey29. Poetic Mothers: Pisa and Leghorn30. Baths of San Giuliano31. "Emily... my heart's sister"32. "A Love in desolation masked"33. The Last Pisan Winter34. Drawn to the Sea35. A "watery eclipse"36. Life Terminable and InterminableAbbreviationsNotesSelected BibliographyIndex