This novel by the brilliant American poet and novelist Elinor Wylie imagines that instead of drowning, Shelley was rescued and taken to America where he lived out his life.
Tonight, as I often do, I spent a few minutes sifting through my father's library. I pulled this book and then that book off, flipping thru pages, trying to decide which one I might read. Finally my gaze settled on The Venetian Glass Nephew by Elinor Wylie. I thought, 'why not?'. I have absolutely no idea what made me do this. I shelved the others and retreated to bed to start my exploration.
First things first, though. A quick reference check on Wylie. Who was she? Why would my father have her books? Well, I first discover that the Venetian Glass Nephew is an allegorical update of Frankenstein. Hmmmm. Then with my jaw dropping and pulse racing, I discover that she wrote an entire novel based on the idea that Shelley was rescued from the Bay of Lerici, but rather than return to Italy, he sails under an assumed name to America with the crew of the schooner that saved him.
Turns out that Wylie was an expert on Shelley, who 'knew every small incident in Shelley's life...but without dryness of pretence. She knew them, not as one knows a lesson, but as one remembers a past. She would talk of them as casually as of a personal reminiscence." Despite her admiration for Shelley, she could "laugh at him with no diminution of love and make of him no less an immortal because he was sometimes preposterous.."
Yet again, I must lift a glass and toast my father for the incredible gift of his books and for his eccentric passions. Now, despite the fact it is nigh on midnight....i have a book to read!!