Being Shelley

The Poet's Search for Himself

Publisher: Vintage
From Ann Wroe, a biographer of the first rank, comes a startlingly original look at one of the greatest poets in the Western tradition. Being Shelley aims to turn the poet's life inside out: rather than tracing the external events of his life, she tracks the inner journey of a spirit struggling to create. In her quest to understand the radically unconventional Shelley, Wroe pursues the questions that consumed the poet himself. Shelley sought to free and empower the entire human race; his revolution was meant to shatter illusions, shock men and women with new visions, find true love and liberty—and take everyone with him. Now, for the first time, this passionate quest is put at the center of his life. The result is a Shelley who has never been seen in biography before.


Chapter 1: Substance

In later life, Charles MacFarlane recalled the moment more or less exactly. He was standing in the Royal Bourbon Museum in Naples in February 1819, admiring a statue assumed to be of Agrippina, when someone at his shoulder murmured words. The remark had something to do with the statue...
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"Intensely imaginative. . . . A biography that reads like poetry itself. . . . Wroe manages to get inside Shelley's head." —Providence Journal"If you are a fan of Percy Bysshe Shelley, you will love Anne Wroe's Being Shelley. . . . Her approach topples conventions. . . . She climbs inside his head." —The Plain Dealer“An extraordinary feat of scholarship. . . . A risky but singularly exhilarating book.” —Richard Holmes, The Guardian"Visionary . . . daring . . . [Being Shelley] is anchored gracefully in biographical and textual detail." —The Atlantic"Enthrallingly readable. . . . A magnificent book from an extraordinarily intuitive and gifted writer. . . . The biographer's achievement is on a par with that of her subject, which is no mean accomplishment indeed."—Georgia Review "Daringly experimental. . . . Wroe delivers Shelley's imaginative and creative life in all its perplexing brilliance."—Booklist (starred review)