Shelley: The Pursuit

Shelley The Pursuit Shelley The Pursuit is the book with which Richard Holmes the finest literary biographer of our day made his name Dispensing with the long established Victorian picture of Shelley as a blandly etherea

  • Title: Shelley: The Pursuit
  • Author: RichardHolmes
  • ISBN: 9781590170373
  • Page: 324
  • Format: Paperback
  • Shelley The Pursuit is the book with which Richard Holmes the finest literary biographer of our day made his name Dispensing with the long established Victorian picture of Shelley as a blandly ethereal character, Holmes projects a startling image of a darker and earthly, crueler and capable figure Expelled from college, disowned by his aristocratic father, dShelley The Pursuit is the book with which Richard Holmes the finest literary biographer of our day made his name Dispensing with the long established Victorian picture of Shelley as a blandly ethereal character, Holmes projects a startling image of a darker and earthly, crueler and capable figure Expelled from college, disowned by his aristocratic father, driven from England, Shelley led a life marked from its beginning to its early end by a violent rejection of society he embraced rebellion and disgrace without thought of the cost to himself or to others Here we have the real Shelley radical agitator, atheist, apostle of free love, but above all a brilliant and uncompromising poetic innovator, whose life and work have proved an essential inspiration to poets as varied as W.B Yeats and Allen Ginsberg.

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    About “RichardHolmes

    • RichardHolmes

      Librarian Note There is than one author in the GoodReads database with this name See this thread for information.Biographer Richard Holmes was born in London, England on 5 November 1945 and educated at Downside School and Churchill College, Cambridge His first book, Shelley The Pursuit, was published in 1974 and won a Somerset Maugham Award The first volume of his biography of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Coleridge Early Visions, was published in 1989 and won the Whitbread Book of the Year award Dr Johnson Mr Savage 1993 , an account of Johnson s undocumented friendship with the notorious poet Richard Savage, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography in 1993 The second volume of his study of Coleridge, Coleridge Darker Reflections, was published in 1998 It won the Duff Cooper Prize, the Heinemann Award and was shortlisted for the first Samuel Johnson Prize awarded in 1999 Richard Holmes writes and reviews regularly for various journals and newspapers, including the New York Review of Books His most recent book, Sidetracks Explorations of a Romantic Biographer 2000 , continues the exploration of his own highly original biographical method that he first wrote about in Footsteps Adventures of a Romantic Biographer 1985 He is also editor of a new series of editions of classic English biographies that includes work by Samuel Johnson, Daniel Defoe and William Godwin His latest book, The Age of Wonder 2008 , is an examination of the life and work of the scientists of the Romantic age who laid the foundations of modern science It was shortlisted for the 2009 Samuel Johnson Prize.He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded an OBE in 1992 He was awarded an honorary Litt.D in 2000 by the University of East Anglia, where he was appointed Professor of Biographical Studies in September 2001.

    577 thoughts on “Shelley: The Pursuit

    • As far as I’m concerned, this is the only decent biography of Shelley. Richard Holmes writes with stunning detail and clarity. The amount of research that has gone into this vast book is incredible. I learnt so much about him here. All reading comes from a personal angle, and, for me, Holmes underplays one drastic element of Shelley’s life: his diet. Shelley’s vegetarianism truly influenced much of his beliefs, his politics, his protests and his poetry. It is such a large part of who he wa [...]


    • Rich,I know that you're reading this. You have spent your life wondering why nobody except the NYRB has acknowledged your first study, Shelley: The Pursuit. Perhaps you've outdone Ellmann, and you've found the decadeslong hardway: Western society worships Joyce. He was homeless, drunk, blind, purseistant, insane: No one else could get away with spending seventeen years on a book like that. That madness is what we set at the English 203 Altar: There is no room for you, for your precious Shelley. [...]


    • I'll be writing something on this the next few days. It's no small task. Easily the best biography I've ever read. Sorry Ellmann and Boyd, Joyce and Nabokov are towering subjects, but this takes the prize.


    • Shelley: The Pursuit is a rigorously researched delineation of "Mad Shelley", the fervid Romantic whose tragically curtailed literary corpus conjures clearer than any images of the sublime and intellectually pure, ofttimes resembling a narrative explosion more than typical day-by-day exegesis. Holmes is unflinching: Shelley appears, at once, a wide-eyed scamp, a relentless pursuer of the preternatural, a monomaniac for the Gothic, an aristocratic puritan, a liberal apostle; a cauldron of intensi [...]


    • Nearing the end of these 800 pages, I began to think it's a good thing Shelley didn't live past 29. One of the pleasures of this kind of lengthy literary biography is it assumes you know (or are willing to learn, on the fly) a great deal about the history of the time (early 19th century England, in this case), all of the other significant literary, artistic and intellectual figures of the day, masses of detail about the architecture and topography of multiple Italian and Swiss locations (not to [...]



    • If I am being honest, I will admit that at times I found this book to be a little dry. But if there was ever a class of presenting a difficult subject warts and all, and yet transmitting the love that the writer has for the subject - this book is it.Holmes' book was the book that re-launched Shelley or whatever you want to say instead of that.Honestly, I think Holmes deserves a prize for untangling the whole Mary/Shelley/Claire mess and being fair to all the parties.You like the Romantics, read [...]




    • A detailed, fascinating portrait of Shelley. It certainly doesn't do Shelley any big favors, but it gives an interesting context for his works.


    • This has got to be the best biography on any British Romantic figure. Richard Holmes is a master biographer; he makes it an art Well worth the time spent to conquer such a massive book.


    • Holmes, in this first biography showed all the skills that I enjoyed some years ago reading his work on Coleridge. He quotes extensively from the works and relates them brilliantly to the circumstances and the people's lives. I enjoyed Coleridge more, probably because I found more empathy with him while Shelley became more like the 'mad, bad and dangerous to know' Byron. In my more sympathetic times during this long reading, I found Shelley as a victim of his class, his tyrannical father and his [...]


    • "I shall try to domesticate in some antique feudal castle [] As to the ghosts I shall welcome them, altho Harriet protests against my invoking them, but they would tell tales of old, and it would add to the picturesqueness of the scenery to see their thin forms flitting thro the vaulted charnels.""Hoggs comes. He describes an apparition of a lady, whom he had loved, appearing him after her death; she came in the twilight summer night, and was hardly visible; [] visited him many successive nights [...]



    • This expertly researched text attempts to express the life of Shelley by scouring through the minutiae of his biography and entwining what is found with a devloping and mobile thought. Holmes sets himself an impossible task: to bring forth the life and thought of another as emergent and unfolding life. And Holmes draws very near to this impossible achievement, not merely tracing that life but seeking to draw it forth once more from the realm of death. An orphic attempt at biography which seeks t [...]


    • Very long, and I worked at this over several months, stopping to read long pieces of Shelley's work, as well as various novels as they attracted me away from this full length biography of a poet who lived a fairly short life. A haunting story in lots of ways. Well worth the time and effort. It's a long work, but not encyclopedic with regard to detail. Holmes knows how to tell as story as well as do the research. Reading biographies of poets is an enlightening process if they are sufficiently dee [...]


    • This is an exhaustive account of Shelley's life and it's pretty exhausting as well. Very well researched and fascinating, if only to prove, once again, that while poets are interesting, and important (Shelley for his political views as well as his verse) my God they're so annoying. I have yet to read a biography of a poet that didn't just make me tired at the thought of trying to live with them. Actually to be fair Shelley gets a lot less annoying as he gets older, so it's a shame on a number of [...]


    • Although I'm not a big fan of romantic poets, I've been interested in Mary Shelley off and on, and when I ran across a mention of this book someplace, I put it on my to-read list. The Pratt library has tons of older books and so I was able to read it.Refreshing to read an old-fashioned literary biography after some of the postmodern snotty biographies I've read in the past year - I much prefer it when the author is objective about their subject but predisposed to be fond of them, and likes their [...]


    • This is a long book - I was a bit intimidated by its heft - but it never slowed down. As Shelley and his family moved and moved from one continent to the next, from one city to the next from one house to the next, I never wanted not to follow them. Holmes admires Shelley but doesn't flinch at the bad behavior. Also, he doesn't come to ready conclusions but gives you the facts as he has found them and lets you consider them and have your own thoughts about what they might mean. I had to keep remi [...]


    • I am reading this book in preparation for a production of a play about the Romantic poets. I am finding it a good source of background information about the Shelleys and their set. After beginning it, I discovered it was used as a source by Howard Brenton, the playwright of the play in which I am acting!


    • What a ridiculous, beautiful, genius asshole he was. Holmes tells the tale well, not playing particular favourites with any of the cast of characters (all of which are, in their own ways, flawed to some extent), and his literary analysis of Shelley's work, while necessarily limited, is clear and interesting. One of the best biographies I've read.


    • I should re-read this biography, now that I am reading Ann Wroe's new biography of Shelly. My recollection of this book is that it contains a very exciting and fast-paced story of Shelly's life, focusing on the events and circumstances of his life. Among the best of Holmes' uniformly wonderful biographies.



    • Completely overturned my view of Shelley the poet, and enriched my view of Shelley the man. Incredible book!







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