Shelley's Mirrors of Love: Narcissism, Sacrifice, and Sorority
Shelley's Mirrors of Love confronts the myths and realities of Shelleyan narcissism and discovers an artist fiercely engaged with problems of (gender) identity, self-idolatry, and the nature of love itself. Rather than capitulating to what he called "the principle of Self," Shelley obsessively explored its temptations, its dangers, and its antidotes. The book is largely psychobiographical in approach, working with the theories of Heinz Kohut and Jessica Benjamin, among others, as it closely analyzes Shelley's fiction, poetry, and letters.
The book offers the most comprehensive analysis to date of the poet's fluid gender identity, finding strong evidence of an "imaginative transsexualism" that allowed him to identify with real and imagined "sister-spirits" who exemplified the powers of love and sympathy, the greatest of Shelleyan ideals. The latter force receives particular attention as the study turns to scientific theories of Shelley's day, theories that helped the poet envision how the energy of electricity, sympathy, and sexuality converge to create the kind of erotically interpenetrating universe we see at the close of Prometheus Unbound.
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TEXTS AND ABBREVIATIONS
THE PRINCIPLE OF SELF AND LOVES TRANSFORMING PRESENCE
SHELLEY CHRIST AND NARCISSUS
SHELLEYAN DOPPELGANGER LOATHSOME SYMPATHYINDOMITABLE SELFHOOD
A BAND OF SISTERSPIRITS