Wednesday, the 2nd of March, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

Today’s pick is a set of essays that I’ve had on my TBR for a long time, A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was of course one of the major romantic poets with works like ‘Ozymandias’, ‘To a Skylark’, and ‘Prometheus Unbound’ to his credit. But he has also written works of fiction, short prose works, chapbooks and translations. And of course essays.

I had known of him only as a poet but sometime during college I came across his ‘Declaration of Rights’, a charter of 31 ‘human rights’ which include pronouncements on government, the governed, rights, and duties. This led me to find that he had written essays on a range of topics (general and political) from ‘The Necessity of Atheism’ (this I think was what got him kicked out of Oxford), vegetarianism, morals, metaphysics, and the abolition of the death penalty. These were written between 1811 and 1821. A rather interesting set of topics, don’t you think? I was really intrigued by these and wanted to read them, and so some time (by which I mean quite a few years) ago downloaded the public domain version of one collection via Project Gutenberg and also some of the others individually.

Its been some years since this happened, and despite wanting to I still haven’t gotten down to reading these. Since I am unlikely to read the whole set together anytime soon, I think what I’m probably going to do is read one of these every fortnight or so and write a post about it!

Do you enjoy Shelley’s poetry? Which are some of your favourite poems? Have you read any of his essays before? Which ones and what did you think of them? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Info on Shelley from Wikipedia, cover image from Goodreads

Lisa’s pick this week is an intriguing collection of fairy-tale retellings, The Starlight Wood: New Fairy Tales edited by Dominic Parisien and Nava Wolfe, which claims to take readers ‘on a journey at once unexpected and familiar’.


5 thoughts on “Shelf Control #174: A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays by Percy Bysshe Shelley

    1. I don’t read much poetry either Wendy–its something I struggle with, though I do want to try and do so.That’s why I guess the essays stood out. One is about poetry of course but the rest cover quite a range of topics. I havent really read any of his prose writings so far, except the charter of rights, so let’s see


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