45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2000
If you only buy one book of Shelley's works -- make it this one.
This edition contains all Shelley's major poetry, as well as three essays (see table of contents on this page).
The bonus is that, as this is a critical edition, it also contains 15 brief critical essays, which are among the best explications you'll find of Shelley's work. (Since it's a critical edition, the poems are also heavily footnoted, something you'll either love or hate.)
The only downside is that a number of Shelley's shorter and lighter poems are absent (e.g., "Love's Philosophy"), and only a small portion of "Laon and Cyntha" appears here -- but overall the selection is solid. And, like all the Norton critical editions, this is printed on decent paper, eye-straining, tissue-thin stock found in some other volumes.
Perfect for those new to Shelley as well as long-time devotees.
61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2000
Shelley is the wild child of English poetry and his determined opposition to tyranny produced a huge variety of poetry, ranging from the rending lament of Keats in Adonais, to the defiant and taut sonnet Ozymandias. His single greatest work, however, is Prometheus Unbound, which a vast gothic ruin of neat poetry. One shot of it and you'll wonder why a) all the nice, obvious prosy bits seem to have been left out and b) why exactly you love it, and him, so much. Like a cross between a vision of God and a lobotomy.
It's strange, but he means it and the grand sweep of the poem and its rebirth of humanity (I did say this isn't kitchen sink drama) is as distinctive an experience as reading Milton for the first time or the first time you read a love letter in the bath. Holding an electric fire.
There are many other poems which should be headline news, such as Hymn to Intellectual Beauty, Mont Blanc, Mutability and Ode to the West Wind, but this edition also has the advantage of including the Defence of Poetry which is the most rhapsodic and emotive arguments you'll ever have the pleasure to be swept away by. For a second you want to believe the beautiful nonsense that 'poets are the unackowledged legislators of the world'. Shelley pulls no punches in prose because he hasn't pulled any in poetry. He believes in the prophetic importance of his role and is electric enough to almost make us belive him.
This is the best student edition of Shelley's works in print. Not according to me, but to a Professor in Romantic Poetry at Oxford University. Not a bad recommendation!
The essays in this volume are generally helpful and explain the structures of the poems where useful. They are also refreshingly short. Shelley is a poet who has run close to obscurity due to reams of bad criticism (by figures as famous as Matthew Arnold and FR Leavis) who have mistaken his extraordinary originality for weakness. An easy mistake, I'm sure. Shelley's poetry is all in the mind, and the lack of concreteness can be frustrating. A bit like flying can be so much more tiresome than walking.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2006
This text is a great one, as are all of the Norton anthologies that I have bought over the years. The works it contains are as follows:
"Stanzas -- April, 1814"
"Hymn to Intellectual Beauty"
Excerpts from "Laon and Cynthia"
"Lines written among the Euganean Hills"
"Julian and Maddalo"
"Stanza written in Dejection"
"The Two Spirits -- an Allegory"
"Ode to Heaven"
"Ode to the West Wind"
"To a Sky-Lark"
"Ode to Liberty"
"The Mask of Anarchy"
"England in 1819"
"Sonnet: To the Republic of Benevento"
"Sonnet ('Lift not the painted veil')"
"Sonnet ('Ye hasten to the grave!')"
"Letter to Maria Gisborne"
"Peter Bell the Third"
"The Witch of Atlas"
"Song of Apollo"
"Song of Pan"
"Written on Hearing the News of the Death of Napoleon"
"The Indian Girl's Song"
"Song ('Rarely, rarely comest thou')"
"The Flower that Smiles Today"
"To ------ ('Music, when soft voices die')"
"When Passion's Trance Is Overpast"
"To Jane. The Invitation"
"To Jane. The Recollection"
"One Word Is Too Often Profaned"
"The Serpent Is Shut Out from Paradise Lost"
"With a Guitar. To Jane."
"To Jane ('The keen stars were twinkling')"
"Lines written in the Bay of Lerici
"The Triumph of Life"
"A Defence of Poetry"
As per Norton tradition, most of the major works and some of the lesser ones have an introduction before them in which historical context is given, major themes explained, and important images or ideas are revealed. This collection also contains twenty-two critical essays by scholars such as Harold Bloom, Michael O'Neill, and Susan J. Wolfson, on Shelley and his life and art, including eleven work-specific critical essays.
What a great collection!
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2005
Percy Bysshe Shelley is undoubtedly one of the double handful of master poets of the English language. He's something more to many of us, a figure of great charisma and daring who spent his life in relentless search of a better way to be than what we're perpetually settling for, politically, erotically, personally. This quest took him into several flavors of exile, and into darker places within; early on he abandoned belief and near the end, some say, abandoned hope. But he wrote what it was like all the way through, and what it should be like, and why writing what it should be like is crucial. He searched always for the road forward, refusing the easy lie of naming the ground beneath his feet that road. Not that he was what we would call an existentialist: his vision of what might prove possible in life marries all the little-but-infinite scenes of love, discovery, and sublimity he'd experienced and never forgotten, and was always at work recasting in stronger and surer words and images.
His most important writings are mid-length and longer pieces. This is something of a paradox as all agree he is anyone's equal as a lyric poet. I recommend his crazy, brilliant early poem "Alastor" as a beginning point. It sketches out the quest he never left off from and gives a heavy, tonic dose of poetry as he conceived it: a stripping off of fear, remorse and all other artificial limits, including those of our very senses, and a dive into the furious streaming colliding fires of the true world to find what's lost there. It's a bit like the visionary journey the astronaut takes near the end of the film 2001. Without the fetus.
This is a great selection, omitting little of importance. The first edition carried all the same poems, but a mostly different set of critical essays. A slightly fuller selection is in print in the Oxford World's Classics series, with less critical apparatus for those who like to go it alone. Shelley's works have a tangled textual history, so I'd advise going with these professional selections and no other (two editions of Shelley's complete works are finally in progress, I'm happy to say).
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2010
This is the best edition of Shelley's poetry (though the new Oxford is quite good). Shelley is our most abstract and philosophical poet: his subjects are color, light, hope, love, time, truth, image, reality. He seems to write on a constant a strain of magnificence, so that stunning lines, like the one I quoted above, litter every page. Though he is undeniably beautiful, he is a difficult poet. His apparent sweetness, his tendency to write about beautiful objects of transcendence, can sometimes mask the darker elements of his thinking. As such, there are some excellent pieces in here by Earl Wasserman, Harold Bloom, William Keach and others to help get a sense of Shelley's idealist universe.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2006
Shelley is a figure of fire; whenever I read any of his works I sense a tremendous energy and vitality, and a great love of life in all its forms.
Shelley lived by the ideals he set out in his poetry and also his radical politics; complete freedom and the embracement of individual choice, and the rejection of all forms of authority which strangled creativity and the human spirit. At the level of his art, this led to Shelley becoming one of the finest poets of the Romantic era and of the English language for all time, but unfortunately in his personal life and his financial situations, disaster.
Always a restless spirit, Shelley was always on the move; he composed some of his finest poems while he lived for a time in Italy. His work covers a wide range from political pamphlets and criticism (such as his essay 'A defence of poetry') to plays and poems of various types and lengths. His most brilliant poems include an Ode to Keats, 'Prometheus Unbound', and 'Queen Mab', a scathing attack on conventional religious values and political tyranny.
One of Shelley's most attractive aspects is his deep love for and sensitivity to the beauty of nature. Shelley was well read in natural sciences and Astronomy and many of his finest poems (including one addressed to a thunderstorm) capture in vivid colour and detail the changes and endless activity of nature.
Unfortunately Shelley died at the tragically young age of 29 in a boating accident related to a storm, caused to a large degree by his own foolhardy nature. But perhaps there was no more fitting an end to such a fiery, unstable and poetically creative man as him.
This edition contains a good sample of his works as well as several critical essays on Shelley and his work.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2013
Very disappointed at the selection of prose, which is very limited and none of Shelley's more radical writings are included in this choice. A de-politicization perhaps?
The choice of poetry is fine, as expected and a little more.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2012
This is simply an amazing collection of Shelleys works. Great for any student/prose lover. I am a student and this book is one of my favorites; all the stories/poems are put together so cohesively that it makes everything simpler to read. Only bad comment is that my front cover came a bit bent, but I got this book for a great price!
on November 12, 2011
. . . then, the Norton Critical Edition of _Shelley's Poetry and Prose_ is the one. Though "Ozymandias" is in every high school anthology, and the poems "To Jane" are exquisite, *my* Shelley is the one of "Mont Blanc," _Julian and Maddalo_, and the drama _The Cenci_. While Percy Bysshe Shelley made his share of mistakes in his short life, he had a direct connection to universal issues. Read and see why his work is as timely as ever after the passage of two-hundred years, and yet, he wrote for his own time--the age of slavery, mad King George III, and the profligate Prince Regent. On August 19, 1819, there was a kind of "occupy" revolt, as in Occupy Manchester, that was broken up by "drunken mounted militiamen" (p. 315). "The Mask of Anarchy" is relevant today, as a few lines will show:
Those prison halls of wealth and fashion / Where some few feel such compassion
For those who groan, and toil, and wail / As must make their brethren pale--
. . . . behold / Your country bought and sold / With a price of blood and gold--
("Mask of Anarchy," Norton Edition , p. 324)
This Norton edition is an excellent companion to the Naxos AudioBooks CD of Percy Shelley's poetry read by Bertie Carvel. I can't imagine a better voice for Shelley than Carvel's. This CD includes several poems not in the Norton Critical Edition, notably "Song to the Men of England", also relevant today, a few lines tell us:
"Men of England, wherefore plough / For the lords who lay he low?
Wherefore weave with toil and care / The rich robes your tyrants wear?"
(Naxos AudioBooks CD)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2013
This book has all of Shelley's major works and well annotated. The criticisms of Shelley's poems are excellent to read, and they give me great insight into Shelley's works. I many books on Shelley this one is the most useful.