Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Shelley strikes again....

I was looking through Shelley's The Revolt of Islam yesterday and in the Preface, written by himself, Shelley was talking about the effect of the French Revolution in his own time. Not only are his words pertinent to what I have been posting lately concerning the Romantics and the events in France, but, if you just change the proper nouns, it is very reminiscent of what we are experiencing today. (Some of us more cynical people may wonder a little at the last little spot of optimism at the end but otherwise Shelley's words still inform today)

“But, on the first reverses of hope in the progress of French liberty, the sanguine eagerness for good overleaped the solution of these questions, and for a time extinguished itself in the unexpectedness of their result. Thus, many of the most ardent and tender-hearted of the worshippers of public good have been morally ruined by what a partial flimpse of the events they deplored  appeared to show as the melancholy desolation of all their cherished hopes. Hence gloom and misanthropy have become the characteristics of the age in which we live, the solace of a disappointment that unconsciously finds relief only in the wilful exaggeration of its own despair. This influence has tainted the literature of the age with the hopelessness, of the minds from which it flows. Metaphysics, and inquires into moral and political science, have become little else than vain attempts to revive exploded superstitions, or sophisms like those of Mr. Malthus, calculated to lull the oppressors of mankind into a security everlasting triumph. Our works of fiction and poetry have been overshadowed by the same infectious gloom. But mankind appear to me to be emerging from their trance. I am aware, methinks, of a slow, gradual, silent change.” 

Very interesting would you agree?

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