VINTAGE £9.99 (452PP)
Paperbacks: Being Shelley, by Anne Wroe
Wroe's choice of biographical subjects enables her to exercise imaginative power while steering clear of fictitious filigree. Her previous, highly impressive book concerned Pontius Pilate, a figure of great significance of whom almost nothing is known.
Now she has moved on to one of the most closely studied figures of the early 19th century, but still finds something new to say by concentrating on Shelley the poet rather than Shelley the man. It is hard to think of many other major writers whose lives are as indivisible from their output. Writing "Ode to Liberty", Shelley described himself as rapt beyond "night & day & time & space... Breathless and blind with speed". In dazzling, impressionistic prose, Wroe conveys this hurtling literary comet and provides telling details of the fallible human behind the soaring verse. Shelley was an aristocratic revolutionary who simply ignored a bill for £1,192 from an interior designer for furnishing his house in Marlowe. Occasionally, the transcendental poet and mundane reality collide with amusing effect. We learn that while Shelley was contemplating "the mind of man and the universe" in Switzerland, he was forced to flee from a coach when his driver extolled Alpine butter at inordinate length. Wroe's revelatory work demonstrates that Richard Holmes's marvellous biography Shelley: The Pursuit was far from being the last word.
Arts & Ents blogs
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
The opening titles squeal ‘Never Can Say Goodbye…’. Oh Lord how I wish I could heave this series off...
Even though there was a complete absence of our favourite odd couple Brienne and Jaime, we got anoth...
Coronation Street triumphs over EastEnders at British Soap Awards 2013
The Hangover III star Heather Graham: I'll miss playing a sexy stripper because my real life is pretty boring
Hollywood practices random acts of red-carpet kindness
Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
Cannes Film Festival 2013: And why exactly are vous here?
- 1 Exclusive: Woolwich attack suspect attended meetings of banned Islamist group - and were known by security services
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.