The Maniac Poet

  • G. Kim Blank
Part of the Macmillan Studies in Romanticism book series (SR)


So writes Shelley to Leigh Hunt from Livorno, Italy, 15 August 1819 (Letters, ii, p. 108). The ‘little Poem’ is Julian and Maddalo, which Shelley later wanted published with Prince Athanase (Letters, ii, p. 196). Curiously, Julian and Maddalo was not written at Este the previous year; it was begun early in 1819 and completed later in the summer of that year. And, despite Shelley’s repeated desire to have it published, it was not printed until the Posthumous Poems of 1824.


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  1. 1.
    Ivan Roe, Shelley: The Last Phase (London, 1953) p. 141ff.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Donald Reiman and Sharon B. Powers, Shelley’s Poetry and Prose (New York: W. W. Norton, 1977) p. 112, n. 1.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Carl Grabo, The Magic Plant (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1936) p. 268.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    This identification seemed to be popular at the end of the nineteenth century. See Arabella Shore, ‘Shelley’s “Julian and Maddalo”’, The Gentleman’s Magazine, cclxiii, no. 1882 (October 1887) pp. 329–42; andGoogle Scholar
  5. H. S. Salt, ‘Shelley’s “Julian and Maddalo”’, The Academy, xxxi, no. 777 (26 March 1887) pp. 220–1.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    John Harrington Smith, ‘Shelley and Claire Clairmont’, PMLA, lix (1939) pp. 804–8.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    This point is considered by Newman Ivey White, Shelley (1940; rev. edn, London, 1947) vol. ii, pp. 42–50.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    One critic believes both Maddalo and the Maniac are aspects of Byron’s complex personality: J. E. Saveson, ‘Shelley’s Julian and Maddalo’, Keats-Shelley Journal, x (1961) pp. 53–8.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The significance of Tasso for Shelley’s poem is best discussed in Carlos Baker, Shelley’s Major Poetry (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966) pp. 124–38.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    The Works of Thomas Love Peacock, vol. viii: Essays, Memoirs, Letters and Unfinished Novels, ed. H. F. B. Brett-Smith and C. E. Jones (London, 1934) p. 79.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Byron’s Letters and Journals (1814–1815), ed. Leslie A. Marchand (London, 1975) vol. iv, p. 324.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Byron wrote this on the sheet of the original draft for his poem ‘Churchill’s Grave, A Fact Literally Rendered’: see The Works of Lord Byron; Poetry, ed. Ernest Hartley Coleridge (London, 1905) vol. iv, pp. 46–7, n. 3.Google Scholar
  13. 15.
    Thomas Medwin, The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley (2 vols, 1847) ed. H. B. Forman (London, 1913) pp. 147–8. As Philip W. Martin writes in Byron: A Poet before His Public (Cambridge University Press, 1982) ‘there can be little doubt that when Byron met Shelley, he met the first person (and probably the only person) in his life who was to tell him with conviction that Wordsworth was a great poet’ (p. 67). This observation is singularly important in my discussion of Julian and Maddalo.Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    As one critic has summarised Shelley’s tour of Switzerland, the ‘literary ghost of the Swiss tour was Wordsworth’ (Marilyn Butler, Peacock Displayed: A Satirist in his Context (London, 1979) p. 71).Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    The Diary of Dr John Polidori, 1816, ed. William Michael Rossetti (London, 1911) p. 121.Google Scholar
  16. 19.
    To quote James L. Hill, ‘Dramatic Structure in Shelley’s Julian and Maddalo’, ELH, xxxv (1968): ‘The Maniac, like the poets in Alastor and Epipsychidion, is a visionary whose vision fails to become a reality’ (p. 91). Hill also makes two other points relevant to my thesis: (1) that Shelley’s use of the infant in Julian and Maddalo (143ff.) is similar to Wordsworth’s use of the child in the Intimations Ode (p. 88); (2) that ‘the Maniac’s ravings [are] essentially poetic’ (p. 92).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© G. Kim Blank 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Kim Blank
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VictoriaCanada

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