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The Complete Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley (Modern Library) Hardcover – June 14, 1994

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library
  • Hardcover: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; First Printing edition (June 14, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679601112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679601111
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
This disgraceful edition calls itself the "Complete Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley". It is nothing of the kind.
Much of Shelley's work was suppressed by 19th century editors, poems such as "A Ballad" for example. The poem, beginning "Young Parson Richards stood at his gate", was one of the poems Shelley intended for his projected "Popular Songs" volume, political poems in simple language to be sold amongst workers and their families in England. "A ballad" concerns religious hypocrisy, prostitution and starvation.
Standard editions of Shelley still suppress this poem, 218 years after it was written.
Shelley's first editor, Mary Shelley had no choice about censoring Shelley's more radical poems: she was dependent on Shelley's father Sir Timothy Shelley, for 150 pounds a year that was the different between survival and starvation for herself and her son. And Sir Timothy wanted his dead son, that shameful atheist, democrat and philanthropist, forgotten. Mary Shelley was under financial threat if she preserved her late husband's memory, and in that context her work as editor was brave and loyal.
Let's not forget that people went to jail, during the early and mid-19th century, for publishing Shelley's works: Chartist and other working class and radical publishers.
But by the cusp of the 20th century, Shelley's Victorian editors had no such excuses: and they were neither brave nor loyal. They _could_ have produced a genuinely complete works, but they chose not to. They wanted to give the world a harmless Shelley, a "beautiful and ineffectual angel", as Matthew Arnold called him, and they were prepared to suppress and distort Shelley's works to help preserve that image.
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Format: Hardcover
This edition reprints the Shelley portion of the old Modern Library Giants volume, The Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley (who made a rather odd couple, but were nowhere near as mismatched as William Blake and John Donne, stars of a companion Giants volume).
Because Keats wrote about 450 (standard print) pages of poetry in his short life, and Shelley in his slightly longer time wrote close to a thousand - not counting his various prefaces and lengthy notes, as well as the interesting commentary of his first editor, and widow, Mary Shelley, which all previous editions had retained - it should come as no surprise that the capacity of even a Giants volume was strained, and compromises had to be made.
The compromises all hit Shelley, as the more prolific and perennially less popular of the two poets: many early poems, and some of the more fragmentary lyrics and translations were simply left out; the remaining juvenilia, including the long poem Queen Mab, were printed in double column format (with so many carry-over lines that you wonder why), as was a mid-length poem of his maturity, Rosalind and Helen. Shelley's notes to Queen Mab and some other prose, mostly connected with the early poems, were also omitted.
The Giant edition, even with these sacrifices made, was still longer than War and Peace. If one accepts that putting almost all the works of Shelley and Keats together in one volume is a desirable thing, then it has to be admitted this was a pretty decent way to do it. As it was an inexpensive commercial edition, it didn't go out of its way to better the established texts of rival editions (dating back to around 1900).
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Format: Hardcover
This is a fantastic collection of Shelley's work. The breadth, depth, and soul of the man is astounding; his love and invention endless. What truly defines this collection over others is Mary Shelley's presence running through it, providing vivid, incredibly poignant and grounded counterpoint to Shelley's flights of fancy.
To get a true sense of his gifts as a poet, you have to dig into the longer work - none of which you're going to find in the Norton Anthology of Poetry. Just another reason this book rocks.
Shelley was a revolutionary, both in form and content. His finer efforts stands alongside the best the English language has produced. Dig it in the way it was written; heart to hand, pen to paper, and unexcerpted.
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