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State University of New York Press
Shelley's Mirrors of Love: Narcissism, Sacrifice, and Sorority

Shelley's Mirrors of Love: Narcissism, Sacrifice, and Sorority


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Examines the myths and realities of narcissism in the life and work of Percy Bysshe Shelley, and explores how Shelley combated what he called “the principle of Self” by embracing the ideals of Christlike self-sacrifice and sisterly love.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780791439777
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 11/01/1998
Series: SUNY series in Psychoanalysis and Culture Series
Pages: 311
Product dimensions: 6.69(w) x 9.45(h) x (d)

About the Author

Teddi Chichester Bonca is a Lecturer in the UCLA Writing Programs.

Table of Contents


Texts and Abbreviations

Introduction: The Principle of Self and Love's Transforming Presence

1. Shelley, Christ, and Narcissus

2. Shelleyan Doppelgänger : Loathsome Sympathy/Indomitable Selfhood

3. A Band of Sister-Spirits

4. Sex, Sympathy, and Science

5. The Unreserve of Mingled Being


Works Cited


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