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Title: Shelley and the idea of epic : a study, with particular reference to three pre-1818 narratives
Author: Curtis, Francis Brett
ISNI:       0000 0001 3400 7858
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1979
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This study examines the idea of epic exemplified in Shelley's Queen Kab (1813), Alastor (1816), and Laon and Cythna (1817), whose epic dimensions are illustrated by placing the poems within three relevant contexts: modern twentieth century criticism on the Romantic epic; late eighteenth and early nineteenth century epic practice and criticism; the concepts of dream, vision and allegory in relation to epic, found in contemporary sources of Shelley's day. Part I of the thesis establishes these three contexts, being directly supported by Appendix 2 which contains evidence suggesting Shelley's access to many of the primary sources cited. Part II is an individual reading of the three narratives; the manuscript investigation into Laon and Cythna. summarized in Appendix 1, complements the dream/vision discussion in Chapter 6. Shelley wrote three narratives before 1818 of epic dimension. The idea of epic they represent can only be adequately defined by referring to classical and renaissance epic practice and criticism, contemporary sources, twentieth century criticism, the concepts of dream, vision and allegory. The latter concepts are incorporated into the narratives in a distinctive way. Queen Mab has to be read within the context of epic represented by Joel Barlow's epic The Columbiad (1807). Alastor is a quest epic whose individualised imaginative strategy is based upon vision and myth. Laon and Cythna. Although lodged within a recognizable classical epic tradition, reflects innovatory contemporary epic criticism and transcends accepted modes of heroic characterization and structural organization. The contribution to Shelley studies lies in a demonstration that the idea of epic embodied in these narratives is considerably more specific and complex than has hitherto been recognized by commentators who have either simply designated the narratives as epics in a cursory phrase or have discussed the question solely in terms of classical and renaissance epic. The narratives reflect issues, unity in epic for example, which were of fundamental importance to contemporary practitioners and critics of epic. Shelley had definite access to an extensive body of writing concerning epic from contemporary sources.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature