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The Godwins and the Shelleys download epub

by William St. Clair

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William St Clair received his education at Kilsyth Academy, Comely Park School, Falkirk, Edinburgh Academy, and St John's College, Oxford. William St Clair started his academic career as Fellow of Royal Society of Literature in 1973 He was Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 1981–82.

Godwin, William, 1756-1836 - Family, Wollstonecraft, Mary, 1759-1797 - Family, Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 1792-1822 . Books for People with Print Disabilities. Internet Archive Books.

Godwin, William, 1756-1836 - Family, Wollstonecraft, Mary, 1759-1797 - Family, Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 1792-1822 - Family, Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851 - Family, Goodwin family, Shelley family, Authors, English - 18th century - Family relationships, Authors, English - 18th century - Family relationships, Poets, English - 19th century.

Godwins and the Shelleys book. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Start by marking Godwins and the Shelleys as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read. Much more than the biography of a family  . Godwins and the Shelleys. by William St. Clair.

This is the definitive biography not just of a man, but of the transition from the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on cold reason, to the Romantic age, with its passionate commitment to sensation. The head wars with the heart throughout this book, and as St. Clair shows us, Godwin's allegiance all his days was to the head. The result is a cold-blooded, but clear-eyed, look at a radical past.

by William St. Select Format: Hardcover. ISBN13:9780801842337.

Although for convenience I have called them the Godwins and the Shelleys, Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who took their husbands' names, are of equal importance. Godwin's first biographer said he wished that more papers had been destroyed, and his successors know how he felt.

Home The Godwins and the Shelleys. A Biography of a Family.

Complete summary of William St. Clair's The Godwins and the Shelleys . William St. Clair, by way of exploration of family archives, turns the focus with this work back to Godwin and his revolutionary philosophical thought. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Godwins and the Shelleys. Godwin’s monumental treatise, AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL JUSTICE (1793), brought him instant notoriety. Liberal intellectuals of the day sought him out to be their inspirational leader and conservative politicians pondered whether he should be charged with treason. But Godwin was more than merely a thinker wishing to inspire.

Its relevance to more modern ethnic and religious conflicts is becoming increasingly appreciated by scholars worldwide.

The Godwins and the Shelleys: The Biography of a Family by William St Clair. Faber, 572 p. £20, June 1989, 0 571 15422 0Show More. How St Clair gets on with his Malthusian colleagues at HM Treasury day by day is a perpetual wonder to the reader of this book, where, like his subject, he emerges as a genuine Whig, a creature not so much of the French Revolution as of the Enlightenment. William Godwin was brought up in England’s bleakest countryside, the Cambridge-shire Fens, and in one of its bleakest religious traditions.

This is a biography of one of the most influential families in the history of ideas. William Godwin's treatise on liberalism, "Political Justice", brought the ideas of the French Revolution to Britain. "A Vindication of the Rights of Women" by his wife, Mary Wollstonecraft, marked the start of the modern women's movement. At a time when Godwin's early achievements had been largely pushed aside, the poet Shelley ran off with his daughter, Mary Godwin, who wrote "Frankenstein". The book is based on an exploration of the vast family archives. Amongst other discoveries, the author has decoded a secret diary recording Godwin's sexual relationship with his wife. In the case of a family who in their writings advocated greater sexual freedom, this information has more than a personal interest.

Comments: (4)

An excellent, fabulously researched -- NEW INFO -- book in the history of ideas.

By the time Godwin and Wollstonecraft married in 1797, both were famous, he for founding "philosophical anarchism" in his book POLITICAL JUSTICE (1793) and his novel CALEB WILLIAMS (1794), she for VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN (1792) and LETTERS FROM SWEDEN (1796). These writings, St Clair says, "stand together on the shelf like a colossal Pharaoh and his consort, enduring monuments of the spirit of the age" (142), and the couple "were the two acknowledged leaders of the New Philosophy." (163)

When POLITICAL JUSTICE came out, the British government, in reaction against the French Revolution, was indicting citizens for sedition if they criticized the monarchy or seemed supportive of French "Jacobinism", and was suppressing publications and meetings. Godwin had reason to fear he would be attacked, but the government left him alone and the public devoured his books. Godwin met Tom Paine and defended his book RIGHTS OF MAN while the government prosecuted Paine and sellers of the book. Godwin's fame enabled him to write powerful essays against government restrictions and to save a number of his liberal friends from prosecution. A number were convicted and transported to Australia or held in prison. This persecution of writers and publishers continued for decades. Godwin's influential role in protecting English liberties is a very important story.

[A few years later, America, in fear of the same "Jacobinism", adopted the Alien and Sedition Acts. Aaron Burr, a leading moderate in the growing partisanship between the Federalists and their Republican/Democrat/"Jacobin" opponents, was a devotee of Godwin. Hamilton ridiculed him for being "Godwinian." (Burr and Godwin share dates of birth and death, 1756-1836.) Both England and Federalist New England, in the 1790s, experienced the "Bavarian Illuminati" hysteria fanned by Abbe Barruel and other reactionaries, discussed in this book.]

Godwin's MEMOIR of his wife after her death accelerated the conservative reaction against Jacobinism. He was surprised that this testament of respect and love for his wife was viewed as scandalous. Several anti-Jacobin journals and a flood of books appeared upholding traditional values, especially the subordination of women. "The cause of women's equality like the cause of reform was decisively lost, and Godwin's simple honest memoir contributed heavily to the defeat."(188) The words "Enlightened" and "philosophy" became terms of contempt [like "liberal" and "progressive" today]; "Godwin was the best-known philosopher in England ... who exemplified all the hated ideas in his books and in his life." (194) "A word seldom uttered without a sneer of contempt ... 'Philosophy' meant William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, atheism, treason, economic redistribution, and sexual immorality." (195) Fear of disorder moves people to embrace enforcement of conformity by State and Church.

A famous instance of this reaction is Malthus's book on population in 1798, an attack on Godwin's views on progress. Godwin responded to Malthus and other critics in REPLY TO PARR (1801). By 1817 Malthus had greatly expanded his book, which was now political orthodoxy -- it justified cutting aid to the poor. Godwin responded more fully with POPULATION (1820) in which he answered Malthus doom-and-gloom with a modern economic argument.

Godwin read and wrote prodigiously as a poor man before he became famous, and as a maligned man during the last 40 years of his life under the reaction against Enlightenment rationalism and radical liberalism. This excellent narrative of Godwin's extensive relations with writers and politicians, from Samuel Johnson and William Pitt to Walter Scott, Robert Owen, Carlyle, Macauley and John Stuart Mill, is a history of nearly a century of stormy intellectual development. Godwin for 60 years was eager to talk with everyone who could furnish his mind. His story is central to the long debate between conservative and liberal values of Anglo-American culture.

The second half of this book recounts what Godwin called "a new epocha" in his life. He turned to a new interest in the older literature of England, researched a long book on Chaucer, met Coleridge and Byron (the second rich man to seduce one of Godwin's daughters), and Wordsworth (whom he did not like), and Keats, and Shelley. 19-year-old Shelley introduced himself to 56-year-old Godwin and avowed his devotion to his philosophy. Deep conversation and exchange of letters persuaded Godwin that Shelley would be his greatest disciple. Shelley filled his writing with Godwin philosophy, and absconded with Godwin's two teenage daughters, causing Godwin the greatest grief in his life. This is a sobering illustration of the way ennobling ideals of individual liberty and reasoned virtue can be discredited by reckless persons who rationalize selfish, libertine conduct with the language of liberty. Several tragedies in his family encouraged critics to blame his "evil" philosophy -- as if persons without any philosophy never suffered from human failing. Godwin's resilience throughout his life models strong character. He regained happiness and vigor for work, producing several more books.
If you come to William St. Clair's "The Godwins and the Shelleys: A Biography of a Family" expecting, well, the biography of a family, you will be disappointed. This 600 page tome is mostly the biography of philosopher/novelist William Godwin, the political radical who married Mary Wollstonecraft, mother of feminism, and adopted her out-of-wedlock daughter Fanny. When Mary died in childbirth, William raised their daughter Mary, who later wrote "Frankenstein" and married the poet/philosopher Percy Shelley. A remarriage brought Claire Clairmont, Mary's stepsister, into the household; she later formed a liason with Lord Byron which resulted in the birth of their daughter Allegra.

With famous poets, radical philosophers, and the birth of science fiction as a genre in the mix, one would expect a heady story of literary experiment, brilliant writing, and daringly unconventional lifestyles. What we get is 600 pages of exhaustive research on the political milieu of England at the end of the Enlightenment, of in-depth discussion of the birth of philosophical anarchism (not to be confused with anarchy), and a dreary catalog of the poverty and cold-hearted tactlessness of William Godwin. Godwin, far from being the obscure philosopher he is today, is in this book the author of a host of troubles, mostly brought about by his rigid adherence to principle over reality. When his beloved wife Mary Wollstonecraft died, Godwin published her private letters and memoirs, to the scandal of all England. For the rest of their lives, her daughters would be known as the children of that scandalous advocate of free love, born or conceived out of marriage, raised by unprincipled atheists.

We can lay at least two suicides at the door of William Godwin's unyielding adherence to truth in the very teeth of the most hypocritical age of British culture. It was all very well for a man of independent means to evince principles that ran counter to the prevailing social norms, but Godwin neither knew nor cared that public espousal of those principles damned his daughters forever in the eyes of the world. St. Claire ruthlessly exposes the cruel and unfair reception of Godwin's ideas, his stubborn refusal to back down, his hypocritical "retractations" when poverty forced him to demand--not beg--money from rich men. Believing that money belonged to whoever needed it most, and that gratitude was evidence of false principle, Godwin nagged rich men for money and then carefully did not thank them for it. St. Clair neatly encapsulates Godwin's essential personality in a few pithy observations:

"Godwin's weaknesses were also his strengths. The stubbornness, the irrepressible persistence, the lofty disdain for commercial values, the proud air of certainty in his own genius, the arrogrant presumption that he stood outside events and would be judged against higher standards all enabled him to withstand anxieties which would have overwhelmed others."

When his most devoted disciple, Shelley, ran off with Mary and Claire and lived openly in accord with Godwin's famous principles of truth and free love, Godwin cut off all social contact--while continuing to dun Shelley for money. St. Clair's genius is that he can show us this inexcusable (by most standards) behavior as Godwin would see it; we are allowed into the head of a man who had no heart. St. Clair at times seems to be discreetly mocking his subject, but at all times he is scrupulous in documenting every nuance of Godwin's ever-changing and self-serving philosophy.

My only complaint with this book was that it gives extremely short shrift to those on whom Godwin had the most impact. His family's early history is given in detail, mostly because they lived with Godwin and therefore his history is their history. But once Mary, Claire and then Fanny are out of Godwin's house, they rate only a few paragraphs here and there. The famous literary party in Geneva in 1816, where Shelley met Byron, Mary wrote "Frankenstein", and Byron's doctor John Polidori wrote "The Vampyre", is almost completely ignored. Instead, we get endless minutiae on the due dates and amounts of Godwin's debts.

It is difficult to write a biography of an unpleasant person. Godwin was not a likeable or an admirable man personally, whatever one thinks of his reformist, radical politics. It is especially difficult, in an age whose values are determined by the middle class, to understand an age where the middle class barely existed, let alone set the tone of social and political discourse. St. Claire overcomes both of these obstacles with ease, while contributing some interesting new research into the sex lives of Godwin and his first wife, Mary Wollstonecraft. This is the definitive biography not just of a man, but of the transition from the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on cold reason, to the Romantic age, with its passionate commitment to sensation. The head wars with the heart throughout this book, and as St. Clair shows us, Godwin's allegiance all his days was to the head. The result is a cold-blooded, but clear-eyed, look at a radical past.
Excellent book in an academic style...a little slow to read, but good info.
very informative book. thoroughly researched.
The Godwins and the Shelleys download epub
History & Criticism
Author: William St. Clair
ISBN: 0571154220
Category: Literature & Fiction
Subcategory: History & Criticism
Language: English
Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (June 1989)
Pages: 608 pages