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Thinking Through StyleNon-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Michael D. Hurley and Marcus Waithe

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198737827

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198737827.001.0001

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‘Pictures’ and ‘Signs’

‘Pictures’ and ‘Signs’

Creative Thinking in Shelley’s Prose, 1816–21

(p.70) 4 ‘Pictures’ and ‘Signs’
Thinking Through Style

Michael O’Neill

Oxford University Press

The chapter’s starting point is Shelley’s conviction that poetry ‘marks the before unapprehended relations of things’ and his consequent way of using ‘words’ in his prose as ‘pictures of integral thoughts’, even as he worries that they may turn out to be merely ‘signs for portions and classes of thoughts’ (A Defence of Poetry). The chapter shows how Shelley’s prose thinks through its style in multiple ways: section 2 examines the ironies at work in ‘An Address to the People on the Death of the Princess Charlotte’; section 3 turns its attention to A Philosophical View of Reform and that work’s enactment of complicated rhetorical strategies; section 4 examines Shelley’s essays on religious matters, such as his essay ‘On Christianity’, and brings out their concern to dramatize and allow for tensions; and section 5 explores Shelley’s metaphysical prose before returning to questions of poetics with which the essay began.

Keywords:   Shelley, poetics, prose, style, strategy, tension, A Defence of Poetry

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