Shelley and His Readers: Beyond Paranoid Politics

Shelley and His Readers: Beyond Paranoid Politics

By: Kim Wheatley (author)Hardback

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Description

In this work, a full-length critical analysis of the dialogue between Shelley's poetry and its contemporary reviewers, Kim Wheatley argues that Shelley's idealism can be recovered through the study of its reception. Incorporating extensive research in major early-19th-century British periodicals, Wheatley integrates a reception-based methodology with careful textual analysis to demonstrate that the contemporary reception of Shelley's work registers the immediate impact of the poet's increasingly idealistic passion for reforming the world. Wheatley examines Shelley's poetry within the context of Romantic-era ""paranoid politics"", a heightened language of defenisveness and persecution incorporating Miltonic and apocalyptic imagery that paints adversaries as Satanic rebels against the orthodoxy. A simultaneously empowering and disabling dynamic, the paranoid style embodies a preoccupation with the efficacy of the printed word, thus singling out radical writers such as Shelley for personal attacks. Using Shelley's ""Queen Mab"" as an example of his early radical poetry, Wheatley demonstrates that the poet, like his contemporary reviewers, is caught up in the paranoid rhetoric. Failing to challenge the assumptions of paranoid politics - conspiracy and contagion - Shelley takes merely an oppositional stance. However, Shelley's later poems, exemplified by ""Prometheus Unbound"" and ""Adonais"", introduce a boldly innovative approach. These less explicitly political poems transcend the dynamics of paranoid politics by incorporating an experimental language that creates an interplay between poem and reader. Shifting to an apolitical conception of the aeshetic, Shelley's poetry is able to move beyond cultural paranoia. The final chapter of this study argues that the posthumous reception of ""Adonais"" uniquely replicates the elegiac moves and complex idealism of the poem, concluding with a discussion of how the Shelley circle aestheticized the poet after his death. The book offers a new approach to the question of how to recuperate Romantic idealism in the face of such literary criticism as deconstructionism and historicism. The use of reception-based methodology should make this book valuable not only to specialists of the Romantic period but also to anyone interested in literary criticism.

About Author

Kim Wheatley is Assistant Professor of English at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780826212214
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 280
  • ID: 9780826212214
  • ISBN10: 0826212212

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