Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Shelley's most scandalous poem: but who really censored it?
A recently discovered copy of the uncensored poem suggests someone other
than Shelley amended The Revolt of Islam
ShelleyPhoto: Everett Collection / Rex
By Felicity Capon
The Telegrapj - 25 Feb 2013
New light has been shed on the story surrounding the publication of Shelley’s
The Revolt of Islam, his epic romance of nearly 5,000 lines in Spenserian
Whilst it is common knowledge that the poem was censored due to its
anti-religious content and incest theme, it has always been assumed that Shelley
himself made the amendments.
But the discovery of a copy of the original printing of the uncensored poem
has led Nora Crook and Stephen Allen, writing in the Times
Literary Supplement to believe that someone other than Shelley made the
The story surrounding the poem has been well-documented. What originally
began as Laon and Cythna was revised, after a group of Shelley’s friends
and publishers, alerted by the printer, urged Shelley to amend its subversive
Shelley’s publisher, Charles Ollier, along with Thomas Love Peacock,
Shelley’s friend and neighbour, Mary Shelley and her stepsister Claire
Clairmont, met with the poet on December 15, 1817 at his house in Great Marlow.
They were alarmed by the anti-religious nature of the poem and its incestuous
content. Both Ollier and the printer, Buchanan McMillan, would have faced
prosecution for blasphemous libel if the poem was ever published. Full story