Laon and Cythna and The Revolt of Islam: revisions as transition.
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractThe enforced amendments made to Laon and Cythna following its withdrawal from publication in December 1817 are generally regarded as workmanlike and prudent, sacrificing aesthetic merit in the name of compromise and self-censorship. There remain, however, few detailed readings of these modifications that go beyond subjective responses. To this end, this article offers a reading of these revisions arguing that although some are indeed functional alterations, other amendments serve thematic and aesthetic ends. One of Shelley’s most common changes, that of changing the word ‘God’ to ‘Power’, is a case in point. Since a key theme of the poem is of the collusion between political and religious tyranny, Shelley’s alteration of ‘God’ to ‘Power’ makes this connection more explicit. From this, this article concludes that these revisions signal, analogously at the very least, a transitioning point in Shelley’s thought and career. Whereas Queen Mab (1813) refers explicitly to ‘God’, later works such as Prometheus Unbound (1820) settle upon the term ‘Power’. The fact that we see Shelley move from one to the other between Laon and Cythna and The Revolt of Islam is therefore significant.
CitationWhickman, P. (2018) ‘Laon and Cythna and The Revolt of Islam: revisions as transition’, The Keats-Shelley Review, 32(2), pp. 102-112. DOI: 10.1080/09524142.2018.1520461
PublisherTaylor & Francis