Abstract

'Still Here'

Ever since Paul de Man’s “Shelley Disfigured,” we have come to see Percy Shelley’s final, unfinished poem, “The Triumph of Life,” as a symptom of the end of Romanticism and Romanticism as end. If or once things are over, why bother to re-visit the end? This is one of many questions Shelley’s poem compels its readers to ask, which is in turn to ask why we any longer need to re-visit the poem at this a time when so little apparently rests on our doing so. So, as if to prolong the idea of an end (whatever that might be), this volume is comprised of four essays compelled to return to the same poem, as if to read the poem as a crime scene that leaves a barrage of clues, none of them adding up to a crime, but each lingering differently with Shelley as Shelley lingers with life and history and as we linger (or not) with the shadows his future casts (or not) upon our present moment, which seems more than ever beyond our grasp, if it ever was within our ken. Why even bother? But then again, and just in case: if so little and so much is at stake, why not?