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The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley

'The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley' cover image

The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Volume 7

This new volume of JHU Press's landmark Shelley edition contains posthumous and unpublished poems edited from original manuscripts.

"The world will surely one day feel what it has lost," wrote Mary Shelley after Percy Bysshe Shelley's premature death in July 1822. Determined to hasten that day, she recovered his unpublished and uncollected poems and sifted through his surviving notebooks and papers. In Genoa during the winter of 1822–23, she painstakingly transcribed poetry "interlined and broken into fragments, so that the sense could only be deciphered and joined by guesses." Blasphemy and sedition laws prevented her from including her husband's most outspoken radical works, but the resulting volume, Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1824), was a magnificent display of Shelley's versatility and craftsmanship between 1816 and 1822. Few such volumes have made more difference to an author's reputation.

The seventh volume of the acclaimed Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley extracts from Posthumous Poems those original poems and fragments Mary Shelley edited. The collection opens with Shelley's enigmatic dream vision The Triumph of Life, the last major poem he began—and, in the opinion of T. S. Eliot, the finest thing he ever wrote. There follow some of the most famous and beautiful of Shelley's short lyrics, narrative fragments, two unfinished plays, and other previously unreleased pieces.

Upholding the standards of accuracy and comprehensiveness set by previous volumes, every item in Volume 7 has been newly edited from the original manuscripts, in some cases superseding texts that have stood since 1870. Extensive appendixes contain Mary Shelley's preface to Posthumous Poems, Shelley's source for "Ginevra," and preparatory material for his play Charles the First. Wide-ranging discussions of the poems' composition, influences, publication, circulation, reception, and critical history accompany detailed records of textual variants for each work. The editorial overview and commentaries offer insights into Mary Shelley's editorial strategies while proposing surprising new contexts and redatings.

Volumes 4 to 6 are in preparation.