The Poet's Search for Himself
By Ann Wroe
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375424939, 464pp.)
Publication Date: August 28, 2007
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From Ann Wroe--author of highly and widely praised Pontius Pilate: The Biography of an Invented Man--comes another singularly iconoclastic achievement: a book about Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of the greatest poets in the Western tradition, that is concerned at once with the making of poetry and the transforming power of it. Extraordinary for its elegance of style and complete immersion in Shelley’s work, Being Shelley aims to turn the poet’s life inside out: rather than tracing the events of a life in which poetry erupts occasionally, it tracks the inner journey of a spirit struggling to escape and create.
In her own quest to understand Shelley, Ann Wroe takes up the questions that consume the poet himself: Who, or what, was he? What was his purpose? Where had he come from? And where was he going? By answering those questions, Shelley sought to free and empower not only himself, but the entire human race. His revolution would shatter the Earth’s 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 and radical quest is put at the center of Shelley’s life. The result is a Shelley who has never been seen in biography before.
Ann Wroe is a senior editor at The Economist and the author of Pontius Pilate, which was a finalist for the Samuel Johnson Prize. She is also the author of A Fool and His Money and The Perfect Prince. She lives in London.