Shelley's Letters

Daisy Hay

in The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199558360
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Shelley's Letters

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (19th Century)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)



This chapter examines Shelley's correspondence, argueing that Shelley is particularly engaged with the illusory nature of the epistolary self, and as a result, is both obscured and revealed by his correspondence. As we pursue him through that correspondence, we must remember that we are in pursuit of a shadow, of an idealized, constructed identity. The letters also stand apart from Shelley's other prose works; they are texts in constant dialogue with their biographical context, genre, and material history, and are, first and foremost, a sequence of communicative gestures that are shaped in complicated ways by their recipients. Alongside the shadow of Shelley himself, the shadows of these idealized recipients people his correspondence, and breathe life into every letter he wrote.

Keywords: Percy Bysshe Shelley; English poets; Romantic poets; correspondence; self; shadow

Article.  8004 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (19th Century) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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