In this chapter, I show that Percy Shelley picks up on the waning of intellectual love in Wordsworth, continuing to develop this Romantic tradition after Wordsworth moves on to a more religious sensibility. The chapter outlines the development of Percy Shelley’s treatment of love over the entire course of his career. I examine five ‘clusters’ of writings that reveal his adoption, adaption, and revision of Wordsworthian, Godwinian, and Classical notions of love: (1) his essay ‘On Love’ (1819) and its related texts; (2) Queen Mab (1813) and the Alastorvolume (1815); (3) a sequence of lyrics from 1816-1818; (4) the Prometheus Unbound volume (1820); and (5) Epipsychidion (1821) and later poems. Shelleyan love has received the most scholarly attention in studies of Romanticism, yet it is almost always within the contexts of sex, sexuality, and metaphor; instead, I argue that Shelleyan love can also be understood as an aesthetic model of interconnectedness proposing a nascent negative dialectics, a concept developed by Theodor Adorno that both defers and affirms the reconciliation of subject and object at the heart of critical theory and love.
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