Shelley’s early fiction in relation to his poetics and his politics: an assessment. Not waiting to see the event of his victory

Miller, Susan (2013) Shelley’s early fiction in relation to his poetics and his politics: an assessment. Not waiting to see the event of his victory. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis positions itself between two general approaches to Shelley, that of appreciating his poetics, on the one hand, and that of valuing his philosophical vision, on the other. Duffy has noted that “Shelley’s epistemological and political maturity is no longer in any serious doubt”, and he goes on to demonstrate that Shelley’s radical tendencies remained undiminished throughout his lifetime. My findings support Duffy’s contention, and broaden it to include not only Shelley’s writings but the actions of his life. At the same time, O’Neill has highlighted the importance of exploring Shelley’s poetry for “its imaginative effect as much as its ideological or philosophical coherence”, and that approach will be utilized here as well. My hypothesis is that Shelley’s early fiction, in particular his two early novels, Zastrozzi and St. Irvyne, possess value and deserve attention, and can shed light on his poetics as well as his politics. Moreover, conducting my research has revealed issues of sexism, gender, class and feminism, all of which will be explored.
The thesis consists of four main chapters, and four lyric interludes. Chapter one deals with the novels themselves, including their association with the Gothic genre, and offers specific details concerning the delineation and focus of the thesis. Chapter two examines the novels in light of Laon and Cythna or The Revolt of Islam, raising issues of domestic happiness and familial relationships. This lengthy poem, which is frequently neglected in close readings of Shelley, occupies a starring role here. Chapter three continues the examination of the novels as pertains The Cenci, in addition to grappling with matters raised in chapters one and two in a more general context. Finally, chapter four scrutinizes Prometheus Unbound in terms of the Gothic or Romance novels and suggests a new possible interpretation. Interspersed between and complementary to the main chapters is a series of chronologically arranged lyric interludes. This organizational structure, similar to Molière’s use of interludes in The Hypochondriac (Le Malade imaginaire), was adopted because these poems are shorter and can stand apart from one another, and it was deemed more appropriate to incorporate them with flexibility into the main argument, like a moon orbiting its planet, rather than grouping them together as a single unit.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Percy Bysshe Shelley, poetry, politics, early novels, Zastrozzi, St. Irvyne, feminist issues, gender, suicide, Laon and Cythna, Prometheus Unbound, The Cenci
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Leask, Prof. Nigel
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Ms Susan Louise Miller
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4130
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2013 12:08
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2013 12:10

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