Shelley's Eye : Travel Writing and Aesthetic Vision book cover
1st Edition

Shelley's Eye
Travel Writing and Aesthetic Vision

ISBN 9781138277311
Published November 28, 2016 by Routledge
272 Pages

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Book Description

Percy Bysshe Shelley joined the deluge of sightseers that poured onto the Continent after Napoleon's defeat in 1814, and over the next eight years Shelley followed major travelling trends, visiting Switzerland in 1816 and Italy from 1818. Shelley's Eye is the first study to address Shelley's participation in the travel culture of Post-Napoleonic Europe, and the first to consider Shelley as an important travel writer in his own right. This book is informed by original research on a wide range of period travel writings, including Mary Shelley and Shelley's neglected collaboration, History of a Six Weeks' Tour (1817), in which 'Mont Blanc' first appeared. Fully responsive to the culture of travel, Shelley's travel prose and poetry form fascinating conversations with major Romantic travellers like Byron, Wollstonecraft, and Wordsworth, as well as lesser-known but widely read travel writers of the day, including Morris Birkbeck, Charlotte Eaton, and John Chetwode Eustace. In this provocative study, Benjamin Colbert demonstrates how the Grand Tour remains a vital cultural metaphor for Shelley and his contemporaries, under pressure from mass travel and popular culture. Shelley's travel prose and 'visionary' poetry explore motives of perception underlying travel discourse and posit an authentic 'aesthetic vision' that reconfigures social, historical, and political meanings of 'sights' from the perspective of an ideal tourist-observer. Shelley's Eye offers a new perspective on Shelley's intellectual history. It is also a timely and important contribution to recent interdisciplinary scholarship that aims to re-evaluate Romantic idealism in the context of physical, experiential, or material cultural practices.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; 'The sun rises over France': post-Napoleonic travellers' Europe; 'Citizens of the world': dislocated vision in Alastor; 'The raptures of travellers': writing Mont Blanc; 'Relics of antiquity': Shelley's classical tour through Italy; 'The emblem of Italy': two-fold vision in Prometheus Unbound; 'Empire o'er the unborn world': Shelley's Hellas; Bibliography; Index.

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Benjamin Colbert is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Wolverhampton, UK.


'Shelley's Eye is a responsible, informative analysis of the milieu that generated some of Shelley's most powerful poetry. It also immerses a reader in a world of books, places, and personalities that, after Colbert's astute analysis of them, will never, to adapt the final line of Alastor, be as they were.' Studies in Romanticism ’Colbert's command of his source material [...] is impressive... Shelley's Eye is a work of admirable breadth and contains much of interest... Colbert has unquestionably made a rewarding contribution to Shelley studies, further illuminating, in a confident and attractive prose, the extraordinary complexity of shelley's work.’ Romanticism ’Colbert's Shelley's Eye is a formidable though compact text. Meticulously documented, exhaustively researched, and thought-provoking, it is one of the first authoritative studies to address Shelley's travel writings in their own right, and with it Colbert makes an important and long-overdue contribution to Shelley studies.’ Keats-Shelley Journal