"To a Balloon" by Percy Bysshe Shelley

October, 1997

To a balloon, laden with Knowledge

[from the MS Esdaile Notebook]

Bright ball of flame that thro the gloom of even
Silently takest thine etherial way
And with surpassing glory dimmst each ray
Twinkling amid the dark blue Depths of Heaven
Unlike the Fire thou bearest, soon shall thou
Fade like a meteor in surrounding gloom
Whilst that unquencheable is doomed to glow
A watch light by the patriots lonely tomb
A ray of courage to the opprest & poor,


Paley, "Apocalypse Without Millenium" Part 2

October, 1997

Mary Shelley's The Last Man: Apocalypse Without Millenium

by Morton D. Paley

[ . . . continued]

The idea of a millennium does surface repeatedly in The Last Man but it always turns out to be a will-of-the-wisp. This is nowhere so evident as in the speculations of the astronomer Merrival, whose views seem ironically compounded of the most perfectibilian aspects of William Godwin's and Percy Bysshe Shelley's.


Note: Oxford

October, 1997


The city of Oxford, est. 12th century, is the seat of Oxford University, one of the world's oldest and most prestigious academic institutions. Percy Shelley was in University College from 1810-1811, before being expelled for publishing The Necessity of Atheism.

During the civil wars of 1642-48, Oxford was the refuge and headquarters of the Royalist forces.

Map of England


Note: Organ

October, 1997

Mary Shelley's friend, the musician Vincent Novello, was organist at the Portuguese Embassy chapel. Shelley frequently went to hear him play there during the time she was composing The Last Man; indeed, his music, particularly his playing on the organ of his own adaptation of Haydn's Creation, seems to have helped inspire the book.

In fact, shifting kinds of music play a structural role in the narrative action as a whole.



Subscribe to RSS - Literature