Shelley: The Pursuit
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Shelley: The Pursuit

4.41 of 5 stars 4.41  ·  rating details  ·  142 ratings  ·  12 reviews
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 more earthly, crueler and more capable figure." Expelled from college, disowned by his aristocratic father, d...more
Paperback, 880 pages
Published May 31st 2003 by NYRB Classics (first published 1974)
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Joseph Nicolello

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....more
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.
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...more
Jared Colley
May 14, 2007 Jared Colley rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in late British Romanticism
Shelves: biography
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.
A detailed, fascinating portrait of Shelley. It certainly doesn't do Shelley any big favors, but it gives an interesting context for his works.
A marvel.
Aug 19, 2008 Catherine is currently reading it
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!
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.
Matthu Stull
this is a looooong biography for a person who died at 29 !!! incredibly obsessively researched....
Alan Clarke
Well written and very enlightening , always great to find our more about Shelly
Aug 30, 2007 Lee rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Perhaps the best biography I've read.
A magnificent biography.
Jul 21, 2010 Mariya marked it as to-read
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NYRB Classics: Shelley: The Pursuit, by Richard Holmes 1 3 Oct 30, 2013 05:51PM  
  • Byron: Life and Legend
  • Young Romantics: The Tangled Lives of English Poetry's Greatest Generation
  • Pages from the Goncourt Journals
  • Mary Shelley
  • Letters, Summer 1926
  • Keats
  • Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature
  • A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E. M. Forster
  • My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson (Modern Library Paperbacks)
  • Voltaire in Love
  • Dante: Poet of the Secular World
  • Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead
  • The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft
  • The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society
  • Flaubert and Madame Bovary
  • Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece
  • The Mirador: Dreamed Memories of Irene Nemirovsky by Her Daughter
  • The Goshawk
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
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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 po...more
More about Richard Holmes...
The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science Coleridge: Early Visions, 1772-1804 Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer Coleridge: Darker Reflections, 1804-1834

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