Event Title

Percy B. Shelley and the KJB

Location

Room B

Start Date

1-10-2011 4:15 PM

End Date

1-10-2011 5:30 PM

Abstract

Nearly all of the English Romantics either went through a period of rebellion against or were at least ambivalent toward organized religion, but none was so dogmatic as Percy Bysshe Shelley, who, before producing most of his major poetry, wrote (and was expelled from Oxford for writing) the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism. Though he never definitively self-identified as an atheist, throughout his life and works Shelley expressed frustration with Christians and their religion, often in vitriolic terms. An author of such convictions might be expected to shun even the language of Christians, which, in Shelley’s time, was saturated with the words of the KJV. Yet Shelley’s poetry is pervaded not only by the themes of the KJV but also by its vocabulary and syntax. In the proposed paper I will use Shelley’s biography as well as close reading of the poems in an attempt to determine why this is true. Was Shelley trying to ironically redirect the KJV’s language against those who loved it most? Was he simply using the diction of his time? Or is there a deeper reason why Shelley’s poetry seems haunted by the book he rejected?

Comments

Tess Stockslager earned her M.A. in English at Liberty University in 2009 and is currently Director of the Graduate Writing Center at Liberty University.

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Oct 1st, 4:15 PM Oct 1st, 5:30 PM

Percy B. Shelley and the KJB

Room B

Nearly all of the English Romantics either went through a period of rebellion against or were at least ambivalent toward organized religion, but none was so dogmatic as Percy Bysshe Shelley, who, before producing most of his major poetry, wrote (and was expelled from Oxford for writing) the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism. Though he never definitively self-identified as an atheist, throughout his life and works Shelley expressed frustration with Christians and their religion, often in vitriolic terms. An author of such convictions might be expected to shun even the language of Christians, which, in Shelley’s time, was saturated with the words of the KJV. Yet Shelley’s poetry is pervaded not only by the themes of the KJV but also by its vocabulary and syntax. In the proposed paper I will use Shelley’s biography as well as close reading of the poems in an attempt to determine why this is true. Was Shelley trying to ironically redirect the KJV’s language against those who loved it most? Was he simply using the diction of his time? Or is there a deeper reason why Shelley’s poetry seems haunted by the book he rejected?