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134473 134473_1 134473_2 134473_3
SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe.

The Poetical Works....

Edited by Mrs. Shelley.

Availability: In stock

Published: London Edward Moxon, 1839

Stock Code: 134473

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition of Mary Shelley's collected edition of her husband's poetical works, the first complete collected edition, which established Shelley finally and irreversibly amongst the great poets of the English language. Pirate editions of Shelley's works had persuaded his father, Sir Timothy, that all hope of obscurity had passed, and Mary was allowed to prepare a proper edition provided there was only a minimum of biographical information. "Mary Shelley brought Shelley into the mainstream of the national culture. He was no longer the author of a notorious banned poem Queen Mab only obtainable from shops specializing in blasphemy, sedition and advice on birth control. He was the prophet of Prometheus Unbound, one of the most ambitious attempts ever made to uplift life by literature, and of other works such as the "Ode to the West Wind"... The notes that Mary added are masterpieces of editing, adding so immeasurably to the reader's understanding that nobody would now consider printing Shelley's poems without them" (St Clair, p. 492).
This is set comes from the library of the philosopher and writer Alan W. Watts (1915-1973), with his esoterically illustrated bookplate (which he designed and included the biblical motto "pulsate et aperietur vobis" "knock, and it shall be opened to you") to each volume. Watts was a highly significant early populariser of Zen Buddhism in the Western world, and his ownership of this Shelley set makes for an unexpected but compelling association. Commentators from Yeats onward have identified the mystical strain of Shelley's writing, and the recent Romanticism and Buddhism volume (2007, ed. Mark Lussier) contains an essay by John G. Rudy on "Shelley's Golden Wind: Zen Harmonics in A Defence of Poetry and Ode to the West Wind".

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4 volumes, octavo (168 x 104 mm). Finely bound by Zaehnsdorf for McClurg in brown polished full calf, spines gilt in compartments with dark red morocco title labels gilt, sides bordered with double gilt rule, top edges gilt, marbled endpapers.


Engraved portrait frontispiece to vol. one, half-title in each volume.


Some minor rubbing to extremities, scrape across front board of vol. three, an excellent set, sound and internally clean.


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