Paul Foot

Shelleyan Top Ten Moments - 2017

Shelleyan Top Ten Moments - 2017


Welcome to my inaugural, year end "Shelleyan Top Ten" list. The eligibility criteria for an appearance on this list is pretty straight forward (and subjective!) First the event or occurrence must have contributed to raising the awareness of Percy Bysshe Shelley among the general public. Second, it also needs to have come to my attention - which is not omniscient (this means my list is not necessarily definitive!). Finally, I also have ranked on the basis of whether the moment was unusual or unexpectedly brilliant.

In any event, these sorts of lists are supposed to be fun and are designed to provoke debate and conversation.  So let the discussion begin.

2017 - The Year in Review

2017 - The Year in Review

2017 was a busy year for Percy Bysshe Shelley and later this week I will publish my Top Ten Shelleyan Moments of 2017 - watch for it!! It was also a busy year for my website and its associated social media platforms. The website experienced 12,000 Unique Visitors 15,000 Visits and over 21,000 Page Views. These are huge numbers for a site dedicated to a poet who has been dead almost 200 years. Shelley was a highly motivated political creature who dedicated his life to changing the world. At some point he realized that he would never manage build sufficient momentum to do this in his lifetime. I think this was profoundly demoralizing. However, he recovered and I believe he started to write for future generations - in otherwords us.  If those of us who love him do not join him in this enterprise, then we are letting him (and ourselves) down. So let's not. Join our community and help spread the word.

The Shelley Conference - London, 15-16 September 2017

The Shelley Conference - London, 15-16 September 2017

On Friday and Saturday the 15th and 16th of September, in London, the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at University of York, is presenting a two day conference that celebrates the writings of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. I will be speaking at this conference on the topic of "Romantic Resistance". My presentation will demonstrate how Shelley’s politics, his philosophical skepticism and his theory of the imagination combine to offer some potent solutions for the troubles of the early 21st Century.  Given recent events, it is time that we cast a fresh eye on romantic, specifically Shelleyan, theories of resistance.

Of Myth and Reality. My Visit to the Beach at Viareggio.

Of Myth and Reality. My Visit to the Beach at Viareggio.

In May of this year, I visited the places in and around Viareggio on the Italian Coast at the Gulf of La Spezia.  This is where Shelley lived out the last few days of his short life. The video which is at the heart of this post was recorded on the beach at Viareggio.  Somehow standing on that beach made it possible to strip away the accretion of the mythology and to confront the numbing reality of his death.  I found the moment almost overwhelming.I invite you all to join me on this virtual pilgrimage; and to pause for reflection.

My Father's Shelley; a Tale of Two Shelleys

My Father's Shelley; a Tale of Two Shelleys

My father’s Shelley, as I VERY quickly discovered, was very different from mine. He loved the lyric poet.  He loved the Victorian version. He loved Mary’s sanitized version.  In a weird way he bought into Mathew Arnold's caricature of Shelley (“a beautiful and ineffectual angel, beating his wings in a luminous void in vain.”) – and loved him the more for it.  He hated the idea that Shelley was a revolutionary.

Shelley in the 21st Century

Shelley in the 21st Century

Most writing on Shelley seems frustratingly designed for scholarly audiences and much of it is almost unreadable by anyone outside a university setting.  Most of the books and articles written between 1980 and around 2005 are written in a scholarly style that limits readership to a handful of people: esoteric, jargon-filled, arcane and at times pompous.

This is a pity because many of these books contain extremely important insights that would help the lay reader to better understand Shelley’s intent in writing a poem like Prometheus Unbound. For my part, I hope to write about Shelley in a manner that is straightforward and accessible.