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The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley

, 544 pages

7 halftones

May 2003



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The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley
Volume 1

A milestone in literary scholarship, the publication of the Johns Hopkins edition of The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley makes available for the first time critically edited clear texts of all poems and translations that Shelley published or circulated among friends, as well as diplomatic texts of his significant incomplete poetic drafts and fragments. Edited upon historical principles by Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat, the multi volume edition will offer more poems and fragments than any previous collective edition, arranged in the order of their first circulation. These texts are followed by the most extensive collations hitherto available and detailed commentaries that describe their contextual origins and subsequent reception. Rejected passages of released poems appear as supplements to those poems, while other poetic drafts that Shelley rejected or left incomplete at his death will be grouped according to either their publication histories or the notebooks in which they survive.

Volume One includes Shelley's first four works containing poetry (all prepared for publication before his expulsion from Oxford), as well as "The Devil's Walk" (circulated in August 1812), and a series of short poems that he sent to friends between 1809 and 1814, including a bawdy satire on his parents and "Oh wretched mortal," a poem never before published. An appendix discusses poems lost or erroneously attributed to the young Shelley.

"These early poems are important not only biographically but also aesthetically, for they provide detailed evidence of how Shelley went about learning his craft as a poet, and the differences between their tone and that of his mature short poetry index a radical change in his self-image... The poems in Volume I, then, demonstrate Shelley's capacity to write verse in a range of stylistic registers. This early verse, even in its most abandoned forays into Sensibility, the Gothic, political satire, and vulgarity—perhaps especially in these most apparently idiosyncratic gestures—provides telling access to its own cultural moment, as well as to Shelley's art and thought in general."—from the Editorial Overview

Donald H. Reiman is the co-editor of Shelley and his Circle, a catalogue edition of relevant manuscripts in the Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection at the New York Public Library, and an adjunct professor of English at the University of Delaware. Neil Fraistat is a professor of English at the University of Maryland. He is a founder and general editor of the "Romantic Circles" website, published by the University of Maryland.

"In gathering together all his earliest pieces, including some that have been unavailable in standard editions of the collected poetry, Donald Reiman and Neil Fraistat's meticulously edited volume brings out the aims Shelley had for his verse, and the effects he sought, which remained surprisingly uniform."

"Will become an indispensable reference work for all who study Shelley... The first volume... auspiciously inaugurates Shelley studies for a new millennium."

"If ever an edition deserved the chimerical epithet 'definitive' this is it. A more comprehensive collation of relevant materials, or a more sensitive, sensible, and reader-friendly presentation of evidence, is inconceivable. All Shelleyans owe Reiman and Fraistat a debt of gratitude. The edition this volume inaugurates will be an essential acquisition for academic libraries and should become the standard scholarly reference for all citations of Shelley's poems."

"The Johns Hopkins University Press has come out with the first volume of what will almost certainly be the standard in Shelley scholarship, The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, beautifully edited by Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat. What is so special about this edition, as we can see in this volume of Shelley's early writing, is that it presents the poems in their historical context, which turns out to mean so much more than the phrase usually does. We see not only the traditional drafts and revisions but also thorough discussions of publication histories, origins, influences, and receptions by Shelley's contemporaries. It is more than a reader hopes for in editorial scholarship."

"The editors' impressive combined knowledge, theoretical understanding, and practical skills add up to a brilliant first installment of what will undoubtedly be a monumental edition—the Shelley edition for our time."

"This edition will undoubtedly be indispensable for the serious study of Shelley's poetry."

"These youthful poems prove that Shelley's enthusiasm for political solutions to moral problems was neither intellectual fakery nor aristocratic affection."

"To call this edition magisterial is to fall back on too lax a term of praise: it is rather a monument of precise, assured erudition in total command of the poems and almost two centuries of commentary on them, an awesome achievement that as it unfolds will replace all previous texts of Shelley's poetry as well as the whole of their contexts. I cannot imagine it being done by anyone else—or, for that matter, better."

"Donald Reiman and Neil Fraistat bring to their new edition an unrivaled knowledge of the textual evidence and a superb grasp of the important historical and critical issues. Their presentation of and commentary on the poetry Shelley produced up through his elopement with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in July 1814 is clarifying and revealing in itself and encourages the highest possible expectations for the volumes to follow. Their editorial principles, centered around the objective of offering critical redactions of single versions of all the poems arranged chronologically in the order in which Shelley released these versions to a particular public, are scrupulously conceived and meticulously applied. Scholars, students, and general readers of Shelley's poetry have reason to celebrate."

" The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley is a much needed work and Reiman and Fraistat are the best possible people to have done it. The research, knowledge, experience, and general thoughtfulness that have gone into the project are truly impressive. It will be a landmark event of Shelley scholarship."

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