Finding Purity

There are lots of realities which are mostly unknown to a common person. Most probably time never stays friend instead of few vary moments, which stay also always unpredictable and unfathomable. Mountains, rock mountains the most solid state on the phases of earth predictably revealed the same and simultaneously the Fate appears the same on this worldly life of world.

Wonders are here and there and such wonder expression upon an over the sensibility of mental energies who intend to realize the given guidance and earthly realities the most vital is the relationship of Man with his Creator when Lord becomes annoyed, when becomes kind, when begins His great blessings and when one wept and cried over again and again over one thing even than stays or remain in same condition for years and Lord, not even makes a little glance of mercy, and one just search the Divine Essence for his circle of life.
Thus, over instinct of such findings wonder upon the Nature and Natural Essence. If someone does why, upon the Fate’s element one can be instinctively criminal if say yes over the fate games than stays like prisoner. Walk upon the given road of fate than it’s obvious to climb mountains ahead if halted somewhere than the obligation will be waiting list person and tagged to be wait ever till next opportunity.

Over more, many of the findings are which can be elaborated or can be part of speech but there is rest many which cannot be defined for which words cannot be enough to lock over.

Divine Essence is a vivid topic to write but the main relationship between Divine Essence and the crown of creation is of Divine Love, Divine understanding and Divinity needs nothing just the awareness of human consciousness.

For the divinity and for the divine essence the Presence is everywhere the acknowledgement should sustained? Existence is everywhere to feel and to obey to real is the major cause. Religious, doctrines and myths mentioning all the major requirements or the essence for humans to lead their lives ideal or to grow over earth. But there is one way, one major way to understand the true depth of Presence, Existence, Divinity and human real soul essence this could be by mysticism by mystical identity and trying over and over to understand this could be possible by open the door and eyes ever the external world and then link deep inside and to think over reasons.

Mystically, the quest this very search which gives situational awareness, self-recognization/awareness, instinctive knowledge and then route towards Maker’s recognization and awareness. Fate is a writing which cannot be over-write but few gaps and pages are empty where human Will, effort can jungle over it.

To find something is always to explore the uniqueness, the unique or precious things estimated as the symbol of soul tranquility to achieve. Impossibilities require possible opportunity and they can be ventured only upon the good will of human actions. Earthly findings are way to the unearthly findings, the ways and actions in this world lead to another to select the ultimate sadness or happiness.

Motives for the findings should be positively enough must sustain the Divine Essence as the without it nothing is possible and human can do anything but not everything without that. World essence is just for the acknowledgement of Divine essence the one who understand the standards would enhance it more brilliantly.

Source: http://www.literaturearticle.com/findings/

Literature and Human World

Considering the blood and clot mixture of soil becomes human The LORD Almighty’s crown of creation. This is the prime creation above all yet the most paralyzed to have guidance and key direction to live upon & to follow the certain myth which may control this beings psychic emotional and sentimental world around. Myths, doctrines and religions never be the complicated thesis to follow but man made itself when they tried their false wills to rule them.

Supremacy itself a disease, which cause fatal reasons and results upon Man and Man made world. Is it not a rare question or a reap question based on rhetoric practice that why man utters such sins that caused ‘ PARADISE LOST ‘ MAN HAS ALL THE POWERS AROUND AND ENSLAVE TO HIS WILL IF HE TRIED TO BE enhance his life based on logic , literature itself becomes impressive if his logic remains the best in shape with time and schedule of his implemented life.

Human is a complicated being, undoubtedly from the beginning of life of a spam sperm to the strength of worldly human today. His world is as wide as he wants to make it and his world is as small as his though and imagination could reach. The sleeping imagination of imagery never works well Hide and seek of external world is not much important but of Man’s own inner world of his conscious does matter. Man is not a being which is symmetrically arranged or a exercise machinery to carry on one edge. No not at all human is compassionate about all the materials outside which has been disclosed with in him by Nature.

Man and Man’s world is somewhat self-existed it becomes exhausted when the self appearance and own decision exceeded. This world is over ruled as well, mostly by Fate and rarely by temporary actions template worldly by worldly beings. When it comes to the edge of ruling or we say over ruled what does it sounds like?

Its sounds like the man exceeds in his negative selfishness and considering his supremacy diligence his will upon other beings just like him. He feels for himself only and left his democracy just for a recalling name. The difference raise here when a man considerably justify his own actions just for himself. His own self remains high in stature rather than any value or goodness that must rule his life and actions.

The history repeats itself very clearly the literature is a mirror to time to ages to age of time but morally in all ages in all times the worst circumstances and the situations than man kills his own breed his own generations. He himself becomes pathetic sympathetic and drowned and himself becomes the murderer as compare to human there is breed of insects cockroaches who are rest good beyond goodness to man they never commit killing for their beings as humans do.

Human world has been assessed and analyzed right after in all the ages when man feels within the need to resolve and preserve the goodness of the Nature mystery and of the knowing. To know is not much important but to know with the tendency of implementation more reliable. Human world and humans are of many types and according to their morals, myths, doctrines they have their own thinking’s and priorities. Few prioritize knowledge, others prioritize magical knowledge and the originals only the true actions that can lead to the Paradise road.

The Most Vital Saga is Human Emotional World!!! Nothing is important than Humanity……………. But what? Is this the world which is made for Human for Humans’ sake and full of absurdities of humans’ own irrational actions?

The Dilemma begins if man wants the complications of his destiny be stronger enough to ruin and trap him in the maze of his own thinking which is not always correct. See the world around, trusting History as guide what happened to the human world. How’s hysteric the world could be if the same thesis be recalled again, which is truly happening?

All the way the mixture of everything never makes doctor’s medicine for benefit but the original true experimental product. Practice is the experience of exercise which can contains the human world and its’ actions be controlled to the truer way.

The beginning of any work makes most preferably the construction of the standard for the up running learning of human actions. Human is the most complicated being yet human analyzed himself approx sixty percent. The remaining part of forty percent still under reorganization and recognization.

Human World is full of sound and actions, full of emotions and inspirations and yet empty with the acquaintance of knowing all the dynamics and beyond that. Why is so? That human has his own self decisions over his own greed and over that he may cross any limits if the myth or doctrine of definition for the pre-historic to end will not be the guidance for him.

Pre-historic or historic definitions and the myth available contain all the aspects of human indeed temptations with the Time and Ages and his passage of yearnings. Man develops strange contacts reference to his best inventions and discoveries but what if all these lead to same Black Hole?

The developments of human contain the skyscrapers, the mega structures, the innovative modes and role models of his own challenges. His competition is not with the other human race or skin but to himself, because sixty percent of his own mind has been captured with his own vibrant mega thoughts that not yet explored yet wholly.

Human world is the part of major elements where he depends on Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Man is a microcosm of nature and so the five basic elements present in all matter also exist within each individual. The human microcosm is mega structure of nature and totality of existence as Human existence is the fundamentality and originality of all other existences. Human caliber is the founder of other living beings and all other invented beings are part of invincible and inevitable source of human lead. So the ultimate Crown of Creation and of existence awarded the Human by nature. The incarnation of these human five major external microcosms of life develop the five sense internal hearing, touch, vision, taste and smell. And the cosmic demonstrations and the demonstrative spirit enclosed as:

Ether – The Sound
Air – The Touch
Fire – The Vision
Water – The Taste
Earth – The Smell

Ayurveda regards the human body and its sensory experiences as manifestations of cosmic energy expressed in the five basic elements. The ancient Rishis perceived that these elements sprang from pure Cosmic Consciousness. Ayurveda aims to enable each individual to bring his body into a perfect harmonious relationship with that Consciousness

Human World occupied of external Evil, Goodness, Spiritual Fate Modules and the Experiences of his own Mental Exercises and Practical Experiences. However the vital role still there of consciousness which lead to the way of logic.

Consequently, the Consciousness, Sub – Consciousness & Unconsciousness in the human psychological world controls the most important part of human life, as an individual human pertains the most identical vision through this world on earth as living being.

The saga of human life and his parameters depends upon the mega structure of human control access which in front of that human is just a creation. The controlling authority is LORD Almighty and Fate the written book to return and implement the happenings.

 

Source: http://www.literaturearticle.com/category/catalogue-of-articles/human-literature/

And The Bird Fly Back

Journey of life started once the life begins, and the journey of survival begins where life struggle to live. More or less the beautiful example of living somewhat is the life of a bird which struggle hard to live and survive. Bird is a simplified nature being which travels with the measures of seasons, delight of seasons of sorrows and seasons of willingness. Bird has home after home and after. Bird originally the form and presents the reformation of life aspects with change.

Types and breeds are different their sub-services to seasons are also different. Irrevocably their serves as well.

One of the birds I may recognize and considerably comes beyond Access Bridge keeping purpose in mind in moves and in flight. This bird was trapped years to the season unchanged which times bird thinks to be static not dynamic where as apparently the seasons always has variations but not desirable switches or change which that bird want to enhance.

Consequently, the bird fly to the known, yet unknown territories roam around, consumes time for their own flights and for the act of fly- Simantanoulsy of this bird during swifting of flight learnt a lots of change chains of variations and conditions of nature. During this journey of flight bird at least desirably struggle for the right directives correct flows and diversify arts to more on.

Bird across others, their signs and symbols bird comes know its reality and originality. Bird comes to knew henceforth the flight of ecstasy during the change of flight of this very special journey. Is it the temporary change for the bird where bird was delighted enough to have new evolution, evaluations and resolutions. But might aspects return back and start to stand where begins like finished where started.

All the creatures are subject to Time and Time has many images and frames of Ages. I won’t remember that bird anytime shows its’ belonging to the world where it timely bestow upon to be. The bird belongs to the land of his own imagery of own thinking own world this own world does not refer his misery to the outer world but it belongs to the exceptional level of being prominent of being special. The journey of flight of this bird does not refers to the outer most coverage of only being in the fly but it also refers the spiritual world of knowing.

Symmetrically there is no arrangement in life and over its path all going on over HOPE ways, all flying over HOPE SKY ROADS. The Bird as a symbolism the most vary being and free liver and the most lucky, the one being which is not afraid of the results here after in another life. Birds and their nests are the grouping but the specific exceptional this bird is rare because it understand the rare consequences and unrealized way outs as well.

Birds travel not only based on rational reason of seasons’ change but also because of their questing over the actual and the most appropriate nesting all around the world where it must be proficient or sufficient enough. Their travelling is very significant for those who can estimate the nature and its’ moods through seasons and angels of the learning through. Lighter or harder, sooner or later through light or dark bird accept and consider nature close to heart and embrace its’ future in nature’s arms. Bird is not frozen being not static but dynamic, therefore the variations caused to its life are truly enough accepted to………………….

TO BE CONTINUED!!!

 

Source: http://www.literaturearticle.com/and-the-bird-fly-back/

The Nobel Prize in Literature

Nobel’s Will and the Literature Prize

Among the five prizes provided for in Alfred Nobel’s will (1895), one was intended for the person who, in the literary field, had produced “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”. The Laureate should be determined by “the Academy in Stockholm”, which was specified by the statutes of the Nobel Foundation to mean the Swedish Academy. These statutes defined literature as “not only belles-lettres, but also other writings which, by virtue of their form and style, possess literary value”. At the same time, the restriction to works presented “during the preceding year” was softened: “older works” could be considered “if their significance has not become apparent until recently”. It was also stated that candidates must be nominated in writing by those entitled to do so before 1 February each year.

A special regulation gave the right of nomination to members of the Swedish Academy and other academies, institutions and societies similar to it in constitution and purpose, and to university teachers of aesthetics, literature and history. An emendation in 1949 specified the category of teachers: “professors of literature and philology at universities and university colleges”. The right to nominate was at the same time extended to previous Prize-winners and to “presidents of those societies of authors that are representative of the literary production in their respective countries”. The statutes also provided for a Nobel Committee “to give their opinion in matter of the award of the prizes” and for a Nobel Institute with a library which was to contain a substantial collection of mainly modern literature.

Accept the Task? Discussion in The Swedish Academy

Two members of the Swedish Academy spoke strongly against accepting Nobel’s legacy, for fear that the obligation would detract from the Academy’s proper concerns and turn it into “a cosmopolitan tribunal of literature”. They could have added that the Academy, in doldrums at the time, was ill-equipped for the sensitive task. The permanent secretary, Carl David af Wirsén, replied that refusal would deprive “the great figures of continental literature” of an exceptional recognition, and conjured up the weighty reproach to be directed at the Academy if it failed to “acquire an influential position in world literature”. Besides, the task would not be foreign to the purposes of the Academy: proper knowledge of the best in the literature of other countries was necessary for an Academy that had to judge the literature of its own country. This effective argument, which won a qualified majority for acceptance, showed not only openness to Nobel’s far-reaching intentions, but also harbored Wirsén’s and his sympathizers’ ambition to seize the unexpetected possibilities in the field of the politics of culture, and to enjoy, as he wrote in a letter, “the enormous power and prestige that the Nobel will bequeaths to the Eighteen [members of the Academy]”.

Nobel’s Guidelines and Their Interpretations: A Short History

As guidelines for the distribution of the Literature Prize the Swedish Academy had the general requirement for all the prizes – the candidate should have bestowed “the greatest benefit on mankind” – and the special condition for literature, “in an ideal direction”. Both prescriptions are vague and the second, in particular, was to cause much discussion. What did Nobel actually mean by ideal? In fact, the history of the Literature Prize appears as a series of attempts to interpret an imprecisely worded will. The consecutive phases in that history reflect the changing sensibility of an Academy continuously renewing itself. The main source of knowledge of the principles and criteria applied is the annual reports which the Committee presented to the Academy (itself making part of that body). Also the correspondence between the members is often enlightening. There is an obstacle though: all Nobel information is to be secret for 50 years.

“A Lofty and Sound Idealism” (1901-12)

The first stage, from 1901 to 1912, has the stamp of the secretary Carl David af Wirsén, who read Nobel’s “ideal” as “a lofty and sound idealism”. The set of criteria which resulted in Prizes to Bjørnstierne Bjørnson, Rudyard Kipling and Paul Heyse, but rejected Leo Tolstoy, Henrik Ibsen and Émile Zola, is characterized by its conservative idealism (a domestic variation of Hegelian philosophy), holding church, state and family sacred, and by its idealist aesthetics derived from Goethe’s and Hegel’s epoch (and codified by F.T. Fischer in the middle of the nineteenth century). Those standards had earlier been typical of Wirsén’s and the Academy’s struggle against the radical Scandinavian writers. Nobel’s testament gave Wirsén – called “the Don Quixote of Swedish romantic idealism” – the opportunity to carry his provincial campaign into the fields of international literature. This application was actually far from Nobel’s values: he certainly shared Wirsén’s disgust for writers like Zola, but was radically anticleric, adopting Shelley’s utopian idealism and religiously coloured spirit of revolt.

A Policy of Neutrality (World War I)

The next chapter in the history of the Literary Prize could be entitled “A Literary Policy of Neutrality”. The objectives laid down by the new chairman of the Academy’s Nobel Committee at the beginning of the First World War kept, on the whole, the belligerent powers outside, giving the small nations a chance. This policy partly explains the Scandinavian overrepresentation on the list. The Prizes to the Swede Verner von Heidenstam, the Danes Karl Gjellerup and Henrik Pontoppidan – one of the few cases of a shared Prize – and to the Norwegian Knut Hamsun still in 1920 are to be comprehended from this point of view.

“The Great Style” (the 1920s)

A third period, approximately coinciding with the 1920s, could be labeled “The Great Style”. This key concept in the reports of the Committee reveals the connections with Wirsén’s epoch and its traits of classicism. With such a standard the Academy was, of course, out of touch with what happened in contemporary literature. It could appreciate Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks – a masterpiece “approaching the classical realism in Tolstoy” – but passed his Magic Mountain over in silence. By that time, however, the Academy had got rid of its narrow definition of “ideal direction”. In 1921 this stipulation of the will was interpreted more generously as “wide-hearted humanity”, which paved the way for writers like Anatole France and George Bernard Shaw, both inconceivable as Laureates – and, sure enough, rejected – at an earlier stage.

“Universal Interest” (the 1930s)

In line with the requirement “the greatest benefit on mankind”, the Academy of the 1930s tried a new approach, equating this “mankind” with the immediate readership of the works in question. A report of its Committee stated “universal interest” as a criterion and the Academy decided on writers within everybody’s reach, from Sinclair Lewis to Pearl Buck, repudiating exclusive poets like Paul Valéry and Paul Claudel.

“The Pioneers” (1946- )

Given a pause for renewal by the Second World War and inspired by its new secretary, Anders Österling, the post-war Academy finished this excursion into popular taste, focussing instead on what was called “the pioneers”. Like in the sciences, the Laureates were to be found among those who paved the way for new developments. In a way, this is another interpretation of the formula “the greatest benefit on mankind”: the perfect candidate was the one who had provided world literature with new possibilities in outlook and language.

In Österling’s epoch, the word “ideal” was deliberately taken in a still wider sense: the new list started with Hermann Hesse who, in the 1930s, had been rejected for “ethical anarchy” and lack of “plastic visuality and firmness” in his characters, words which echo Wirsén’s time. Later, the compatibility of Samuel Beckett’s dark conception of the world with Nobel’s “ideal” was put to the test, one of the last occasions when this condition was central to the discussion. It is only at “the depths” that “pessimistic thought and poetry can work their miracles”, said Karl-Ragnar Gierow in his address, emphasising the deep sense of human worth and the life-giving force, nevertheless, in Beckett’s pessimism. The borderline of this generosity can be seen in the handling of Ezra Pound. He appealed to the Academy because of his “pioneering significance”, but was disqualified by his wartime applauding, on the Italian radio network, of the mass extermination of the East European Jews. Member Dag Hammarskjöld, in a representative way, concluded that “such a ‘subhuman’ reaction” excluded “a prize that is after all intended to lay weight on the ‘idealistic tendency’ of the recipient’s efforts”. (This repudiation did not prevent Hammarskjöld from negotiating, on the Academy’s commission, with the American authorities for Pound’s release from the mental hospital where he had been interned to be saved from a death penalty for treason.)

This new policy, at the same time more exclusive and more generous in its interpretation of the will, was actually meant to start with Valéry but he died in the summer of 1945. Instead we find, in 1946-50, the splendid series Hesse, André Gide, T.S. Eliot, and William Faulkner. In his address to the author of The Waste Land, Österling drew attention to “another pioneer work, which had a still more sensational effect on modern literature,” James Joyce’s Ulysses. With this reference to the greatest omission of the 1930s, he extended the 1948 acclaim of Eliot to cover also the dead master. The explicit concentration on innovators can, via the choices of Saint-John Perse in 1960 and Samuel Beckett in 1969, be traced up to recent years.

The criterion lost weight, however, as the heroic period of the international avant-garde turned into history and literary innovation became less ostentatious. Instead, the instruments pointed at the “pioneers” of specific linguistic areas. The 1988 Prize was awarded a writer who, from a Western point of view, rather administers the heritage from Flaubert and Thomas Mann. In the Arabic world, on the other hand, Naguib Mahfouz appears as the creator of its contemporary novel. The following Prize went to Camilo José Cela, who had, in an international perspective, modest claims to the title “pioneer”, but who was, in Spanish literature, the great innovator of post-war fiction. Still found among the innovators of certain linguistic areas is 2000 Laureate, Gao Xingjian, whose œuvre “has opened new paths for the Chinese novel drama”.

Attention to Unknown Masters (1978- )

Another policy, partly coinciding with the one just outlined, partly replacing it, is “the pragmatic consideration” worded by the new secretary, Lars Gyllensten, and, again, taking into account the “benefit” of the Prize. A growing number within the Academy wanted to call attention to important but unnoticed writers and literatures, thus giving the world audience masterpieces they would otherwise miss, and at the same time, giving an important writer due attention. We get glimpses of such arguments as far back as the choice of Rabindranath Tagore in 1913 but there was no programme until the early 1970s. The full emergence of this policy can be seen from 1978 and onwards, in the Prizes to Isaac Bashevis Singer, Odysseus Elytis, Elias Canetti, and Jaroslav Seifert. The criterion gives poetry a prominent place. In no other period were the poets so well provided for as in the years 1990-1996 when four of the seven prizes went to Octavio Paz, Derek Walcott, Seamus Heaney, and Wislawa Szymborska, all of them earlier unknown to the world audience.

“The Literature of the Whole World” (1986- )

A new policy, long on its way, had a breakthrough in the 1980s. Again, it was an attempt to understand and carry out Nobel’s intentions. His will had an international horizon, though it rejected any consideration for the nationality of the candidates: the most worthy should be chosen, “whether he be Scandinavian or not”. The problem of surveying the literature of the whole world was, however, overwhelming and for a long time the Academy was, with justice, to be criticized for making the award a European affair. Wirsén expressly confined himself, as we saw, to “the great figures of Continental literature”. In the 1920s it was certainly laid down that the prize was “intended for the literature of the whole world” but instruments to implement the idea were not available. In the 1930s, there were, on the whole, not even reasonable nominations from the Asiatic countries and the Academy had, at that time, not yet developed a scouting system of its own.

The Prize at last to Yasunari Kawabata in 1968 illustrates the exceptional difficulties in judging literature in non-European languages – this was a matter of seven years, involving four international experts. In 1984, however, Gyllensten declared that attention to non-European writers was gradually increasing in the Academy; attempts were being made “to achieve a global distribution”. This includes measures to strengthen the competence for the international task.

The picture of the Academy’s Eurocentric policy was also significantly altered by the choices of Wole Soyinka from Nigeria in 1986 and Naguib Mahfouz from Egypt in 1988. Later practice shows the extension to Nadine Gordimer from South Africa, to Kenzaburo Oe from Japan, to Derek Walcott from St. Lucia in the West Indies, to Toni Morrison, the first Afro-American on the list, and to Gao Xingjian, the first laureate to write in Chinese. It is, however, important that nationality is not involved in the discussion. It has sometimes been suggested that the Academy should first decide upon a neglected language and then seek out the best candidate in it. Doing so would amount to politization of the Prize. Instead, efforts are being made to widen the horizon so that, in the course of the normal process of judgement, it is possible to weigh sometimes a prominent Nigerian dramatist and poet, sometimes an Egyptian novelist, against candidates from closer parts of the linguistic atlas – with all such evaluations continuing to be made on literary grounds. Critics have quite often neglected the Academy’s striving for political integrity. Naturally, an international prize can have political effects but it must not, according to this jury, carry any political intention.

The criteria discussed sometimes alternate, sometimes coincide. The spotlight on the unknown master Canetti in 1981 is thus followed by the laurel to the universally hailed “pioneer” of magic realism, Gabriel García Márquez, in 1982. Some Laureates answer both requirements, like Faulkner, who was not only “the great experimentalist among twentieth-century novelists” – the Academy was here fortunate enough to anticipate Faulkner’s enormous importance to later fiction – but also, in 1950, a fairly unknown writer. On this occasion, the Prize, for once, could help a great innovator outside the limelight to reach his potential disciples as well as his due audience. The surprising Prize to Dario Fo in 1997 can also be said to have a double address: it was given to a genre which had earlier been left out in the cold but also to the brilliant innovator of that genre.

The Prize Becoming a Literary Prize

The more and more generous interpretation of the formula “in an ideal direction” continued in the 1980s and the 1990s. Academy Secretary Lars Gyllensten pointed out that nowadays the expression “is not taken too literally… It is realized that on the whole the serious literature that is worthy of a prize furthers knowledge of man and his condition and endeavours to enrich and improve his life”. Cela’s candidature, again, put the principle to the test. His dark conception of the world posed the same problem as Beckett’s, and provoked a similar solution. The Prize was given “for a rich and intense prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man’s vulnerability”. As Knut Ahnlund said in his address, Cela’s work “in no way lacks sympathy or common human feeling, unless we demand that those sentiments should be expressed in the simplest possible way”. In this “unless” we glimpse the repudiation, implicit in recent practice, of the early narrow interpretation of the will. The Nobel Prize in Literature has gradually become a literary prize. One of the few reminiscences of the “ideal direction” policy of the earlier age is the homage paid to those great artistic achievements that are characterized by uncompromising “integrity” in the depiction of the human predicament (cf. below).

International Neglect of the Change of Standards

International criticism of the Literature Prize has usually treated the Academy’s practice during the first century of the Prize as a whole, overlooking the differences in outlook and criteria between the various periods, even neglecting the continuous renewal which makes the Academy of, say, 1950 a jury much different from Wirsén’s.

As to the early prizes, the censure of bad choices and blatant omissions is often justified. Tolstoy, Ibsen and Henry James should have been rewarded instead of, for instance, Sully Prudhomme, Eucken and Heyse. The Academy which got this exacting commission was simply not fit for the task. It was deliberately formed as “a bulwark” against the new radical literature in Sweden and much too conservative in outlook and taste to be an international literary jury. It was not until the 1940s – with Anders Österling as secretary – that the Academy, considerably rejuvenated, had the competence to address the major writers of, in the first place, the Western World. On the whole, criticism of its postwar practice has also been much more appreciative. Objections in recent times have less often been levelled against literary quality, rather referred, mistakenly, to political intentions. Also blame for eurocentricity was common, in particular from Asiatic quarters, up to the choices of Soyinka and Mahfouz in the 1980s.

Special Articles

Nomination

In the first year, the number of nominations was 25. In the early time of the Prize the members of the Swedish Academy were reluctant to use their right to nominate candidates. Impartiality suggested that proposals should come from outside. As no one abroad nominated Tolstoy in 1901, the self-evident candidate of the time fell outside the discussion. The omission caused a strong reaction from Swedish writers and artists who sent an address to Tolstoy – who answered by declining any future prize. During the First World War the number of nominations decreased, to fall to twelve in 1919, compared with 28 in 1913. This wartime slackening of initiative from the outside world induced the Academy to make use of its right to propose. In 1916 the Committee members themselves put forward five names. In recent times, members of the Committee – but also other members of the Academy – regularly add their nominations to the outside names to make the list as comprehensive and representative as possible. The number of nominations has towards the end of the century been about – and even substantially surpassed – 200.

The Nobel Committee

The Nobel Committee is a working unit of 3-5, chosen within the Swedish Academy, (with a rare additional member from outside). Its task is to examine the proposals made and study all relevant literary material to select the candidates to be considered by the Academy. Formerly the Committee presented only one name for the decision of the Academy, which usually confirmed the choice of its Committee. (There are exceptions though: the Academy preferred Tagore in 1913 and Henri Bergson in 1927.) From the 1970s and onwards, the members of the Committee have presented individual reports, which enables the Academy to weigh the different opinions and consequently gives it a greater influence.

The Committee’s first task is to trim down “the long list” nowadays about 200 names of to some 15, which are presented to the Academy in April. Towards the end of May, this “half-long list” is condensed to a “short list” of five names. The œuvres of these finalists make up the Academy’s summer readings. At its first reunion in the middle of September, the discussion immediately starts, to end in a decision about a month later. Naturally, the whole production of five writers would be too heavy a workload for a couple of months but most names of the previous short list return the current year, which makes the task more reasonable. It should be added that in recent times a first-year candidate will not be taken to a prize the same year. In the background looms one of the main failures, Pearl Buck, the Laureate of 1938. A first-year candidate, she was launched by a Committee minority as late as 19 September, to win the contest a short time afterwards, without due consideration.

The chairman of the Committee has usually been identical with the Academy’s permanent secretary, with some displacement at transitional stages. Thus, Carl David af Wirsén was chairman in 1900-1912, Per Hallström (secretary from 1931) in 1922-1946, Anders Österling (secretary from 1941) in 1947-1970, Karl-Ragnar Gierow (secretary from 1964) in 1970-1980, and Lars Gyllensten (secretary from 1977) in 1981-1987. An exceptional period is in 1913-1921 when the historian, Harald Hjärne wrote the reports. In 1986, when Sture Allén became secretary, Gyllensten remained as chairman, to be succeeded by Kjell Espmark in 1988. Since 1986 the tasks have thus been divided between secretary and chairman.

“Ideal” – A Textual Examination

As was shown by Sture Allén, the adjective “ideal” referring to an ideal was used by several of Nobel’s contemporaries; one of them was Strindberg. However, the word is, he found, an amendment made by Nobel in his handwritten will. He seems to have written “idealirad”, with “idealiserad” (idealized) in mind, but checked himself in front of the reference to embellishment in this word for upliftment and wrote “sk” over the final letters “rad”, thus ending in the disputed word “idealisk”. Allén concluded that Nobel actually meant “in a direction towards an ideal”, and specified the sphere of the ideal by the general criterion for all the Nobel Prizes: they are addressed to those who “shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”. “This means, for instance”, Allén added, “that writings, however brilliant, that advocate, say, genocide, will not comply with the will.”

Shared Prize

The Nobel Prize for Literature can be divided between two – but not three – candidates. However, the Swedish Academy has been restrictive on this point. Divisions are liable to be regarded as – and sometimes are – the result of compromise. That was the case with Frédéric Mistral and José Echegaray in 1904 and with Karl Gjellerup and Henrik Pontoppidan in 1916. A shared prize also runs the risk of being viewed as only half a laurel. Later divisions are exceptional, the only cases being the shared Prizes to Shmuel Yosef Agnon and Nelly Sachs in 1966 and to Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson in 1974. In the 1970s a policy was laid down, stating (1) that each of the two candidates must alone be worthy of the Prize and (2) that there must be some community between them justifying the procedure. The latter requirement no doubt offers a real obstacle for divisions.

Competence for the International Task

In the Swedish Academy, linguistic competence has, as a rule, been high. French, English, and German have posed no problems and several members have been excellent translators from Italian and Spanish. Also noted Orientalists have found a place in the Academy. One of them (Esaias Tegnér, Jr.) could have read Tagore in Bengali (but in fact contented himself with the author’s own English translation of Gitanjali), another (H. S. Nyberg) could report on Arabic literature. In 1985 Göran Malmqvist, one of the West’s foremost experts on modern Chinese literature, became a member. The present Academy includes competence also in Russian. Above all, however, the area of scrutiny has been extended by means of specialists in the various fields. Where translations into English, French, German or the Scandinavian languages are missing, special translations can also be procured. In several cases such exclusive versions – with no more than eighteen readers – have played an important role in the recent work of the Academy.

“Political Integrity”

The Literary Prize has often, in particular during the cold war, given rise to discussion of its political implications. The Swedish Academy, for its part, has on many occasions expressed a desire to stand apart from political antagonisms. The guiding principle, in Lars Gyllensten’s words, has been “political integrity”. This has quite often not been understood. Especially in the East it has been hard to grasp the Swedish Academy’s autonomous position vis-à-vis state and government. In fact, the Academy does not receive any subsidy from the state, nor would it accept any interference in its work. The government, in its turn, is quite happy to stand outside the delicate Nobel matters.

Naturally, there is a political aspect of any international literary prize. It is, however, necessary to make a distinction between political effects and political intentions. The former are unavoidable – and often unpredictable. The latter are expressly banned by the Academy. The distinction, as well as the autonomy of the Academy, can be illustrated by the prehistory of the Prize to Solzhenitsyn. Considering the sad consequences for Pasternak of his Prize, the secretary Karl-Ragnar Gierow took the unusual step of writing to the Swedish ambassador to Moscow, Gunnar Jarring, to gain some idea of Solzhenitsyn’s position, stressing that the question related, of course, only to what might “happen to him personally.” On this point, Mr. Jarring could give a reassuring answer (which proved not to be prophetic). But he also had another message. He wanted to postpone the decision, specifying, in a letter to Österling, that a prize to Solzhenitsyn “would lead to difficulties for our relations with the Soviet Union”. He received the reply: “Yes, that could well be so, but we are agreed that Solzhenitsyn is the most deserving candidate.” This exchange illuminates a fundamental fact: the Academy has no regard for what may or may not be desirable in the eyes of the Swedish Foreign Office. Its unconventional inquiry was concerned solely with the likely effects of the decision for the candidate personally. However, the exchange also offers a good example of the way in which a likely political effect may be taken into account – not, of course, that the Academy intended the possible disturbance in Soviet relations, but that it was aware of the risk and chose to take it.

The history of the Literary Prize offers a case where this delicate balance was endangered, the prize to Winston Churchill. When the decision was taken in 1953, after many years of discussion, it was felt that a sufficient distance from the candidate’s wartime exploits had been gained, making it possible for a Prize to him to be generally understood as a literary award. The reaction from many quarters showed that this was quite a vain hope.

Now, there can be no doubt that the Committee and the Academy attributed exceptional literary merits to Churchill the historian and the orator. They certainly concurred in the address to the Laureate, “a Caesar who also had the gift of wielding Cicero’s stylus”. The problem was how this Caesar, a mere eight years after the war, could be mentally separated from the Ciceronian prose. After all, Churchill was not only the winner of World War II but prime minister and leader of one of the key powers in the cold war world. It can be asked if any of the Academy’s choices has put its political integrity at such risk. At any rate, one well-known conclusion was drawn: ever since, candidates with governmental positions, such as André Malraux and Léopold Senghor, have been consistently ruled out.

During the last decades there is one seeming case of a “political” Prize, the award to Czeslaw Milosz. “Has Milosz been given the 1980 Prize because Poland is politically in fashion?” asked Der Tagesspiegel and many other newspapers joined in. The suspicions did not account for the time involved in each nominee’s candidacy. As was disclosed by a member, Artur Lundkvist, Milosz had been on the list for three or four years and had been shortlisted in May 1980 – in other words, long before the Danzig strike. The strike caused several members to hesitate, said Lundkvist, but he added that it would have been equally impossible to drop Milosz because of the events in Poland.

His argument no doubt reflects the opinion within the Academy. This jury realizes not only the damage that a political choice would inflict on the Prize; the integrity of the award could be jeopardised also by a non-choice in a delicate situation. Still, Milosz was a dissident, and so were Jaroslav Seifert and Joseph Brodsky, the Laureates of 1984 and 1987. These choices all caused great irritation in the East. There one failed to see that the Academy’s overriding concern was literary. The pronouncements of the secretary repeatedly stressed the existential dimensions of these great contemporary poets, values corresponding to the humanistic traditions of the Literary Prize. From that point of view it is essential that Milosz’s political defection be thus formulated by Gyllensten (after a reminder of how during the cold war the political climate had altered in a Stalinist direction): “With his uncompromising demand for artistic integrity and human freedom, Milosz could no longer support the regime”. Uncompromising integrity and a call to rally round human values – these are qualities that the Swedish Academy, following the spirit of Nobel’s will, has again and again sought in combination with great artistic achievement. And just as repeatedly, this mode of evaluation has collided with Marxist/Leninist aesthetics, which interprets such a focus as mere camouflage for political intentions.

The process of judgement, while “primarily a literary matter”, does not, of course, prevent subsidiary evaluations from gradually forming a pattern. Such a pattern is apparent in the sequence Singer-Milosz-Canetti-Seifert. At first sight one could see here what a newspaper headline proclaimed about the choice of Seifert: “The Swedish Academy Greets Central Europe.” It is, however, not a question of some politically defined region or some third way in the tug-of-war between East and West. It is rather a question of authors who with great personal integrity have given voice to an old culture that has either been swept aside by oppressors or whose continued existence was severely threatened. In the difficult area of Central Europe, a number of authors have emerged, speaking, out of their sorely tested experience, on behalf of the basic human values – this in keeping with the humanistic tradition of the Nobel Prize. Such a pattern, though, reveals only part of the truth. The Prize is in the end not given to an attitude toward life, to a set of cultural roots, or to the substance of a commitment; the Prize has been rewarded so as to honour the unique artistic power by which this human experience has been shaped into literature.

International Criticism of the Literature Prize

The history of the Literature Prize is also the history of its reception in the press and in other media. Apart from overlooking the changes in outlooks and criteria within the Swedish Academy, international criticism has tended to neglect the crowd of likely names around the Prize a specific year. Thus, Graham Greene was a celebrated candidate towards 1970 and the Academy was criticized for passing him over. But the 1969 Prize went to Samuel Beckett and the 1970 Prize to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, both most worthy candidates. Quite rightly, an international inquiry by Books Abroad in 1951, directed to 350 specialists, came to the conclusion that the first fifty years of the Prize contained 150 “necessary” candidates. The Academy cannot have the ambition to crown all worthy writers. What it cannot afford is giving Nobel’s laurel to a minor talent. Its practice during the last full half-century has also largely escaped criticism on that point. Even the inquiry of 1951 found that two-thirds of the prizes during the first half-century were fully justified – “a fairly decent testimonial”, as Österling commented. The second half-century as liable to get a still better mark.

As was mentioned above, criticism of omissions and bad choices was often justified as to the early period of the Prize. The Academy headed by Wirsén made only one choice to get general acclaim by posterity – Rudyard Kipling, and then for qualities other than those that have shown themselves to be lasting. The score of the 1910s and the 1920s was better: Gerhart Hauptmann, Tagore, France, Yeats, Shaw, and Mann have been found worthy in several appraisals. The results of the period 1930-1939 are poorer. Two choices have widely been regarded as splendid: Luigi Pirandello in 1934 and Eugene O’Neill in 1936. But the period offers several laureates justly judged as mediocre – and they conceal as many cases of neglect: Virginia Woolf ought to have been rewarded instead of Pearl Buck, and so on. The Academy of the inter-war years quite simply lacked the necessary tools to evaluate one of the most dynamic periods in Western literature. The post-war Academy has in a quite different manner fulfilled the expectations of serious criticism. The Österling Academy’s investment in the pioneers has received due recognition in many favorable assessments. Names like Gide, Eliot, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Beckett have won general acclaim. Some names less known to an international audience, like Jiménez, Laxness, Quasimodo, and Andric, have attracted criticism as insignificant, but been classified by experts as discoveries.

Sometimes the complaints about omissions have been anachronistic. Among those missing, critics have found Proust, Kafka, Rilke, Musil, Cavafy, Mandelstam, García Lorca, and Pessoa. This list, if it had any chronological justification, would undeniably suggest serious failure. But the main works of Kafka, Cavafy, and Pessoa were not published until after their deaths and the true dimensions of Mandelstam’s poetry were revealed above all in the unpublished poems that his wife saved from extinction and gave to the world long after he had perished in his Siberian exile. In the other cases there was much too brief a period of time between the publication of the author’s most deserving work and his death for a prize to have been possible. Thus, Proust achieved notoriety in 1919 by the Goncourt Prize for the second part of À la recherche du temps perdu but less than three years later he was dead. The same short time of reaction was offered by Rilke’s Duineser Elegien and García Lorca’s plays. Musil’s significance did not appear outside a narrow circle of connoisseurs until more than a decade after his death in 1942. He belonged, as was pointed out by a critic (Theodor Ziolkowski), to the category of authors who “on closer examination … exclude themselves.”

Epilogue: At the Turn of the Century

The last literary Nobel Prize of the twentieth century was awarded to Günter Grass, “whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history”. The choice won general acclaim but the moment was called in question. Why not three decades ago when Grass was at the summit of his craft? And why just now?

The first question takes us back to the situation around 1970 when Böll and Grass were both hot names. When the laurel was given to Böll in 1972 the citation recalled his contribution “to a renewal of German literature”. The word had, however, a special meaning here. As was clarified in Gierow’s speech to the Laureate “the renewal” was “not an experiment with form” but “a rebirth out of annihilation”, “a resurrection” of a ravaged culture “to the joy and benefit of us all”: “Such was the kind of work Alfred Nobel wished his prize to reward.” This meant that the foremost representative of a moral renaissance from the ruins of the Third Reich was preferred, with a direct appeal to Nobel’s intentions, to the country’s foremost representative of what was an artistic renewal. The choice took Grass out of focus for many years, and allowed for a discussion of a downward trend in his craft. It remained for the rejuvenated Academy of the nineties to take up the issue again. Several of its new members might have chosen Grass instead of Böll in 1972. As to the alleged decline of Grass’s art, the presentation at the announcement certainly called special attention to The Tin Drum and the Danzig trilogy it makes part of, but refused to share the politically biased German view of Ein weites Feld. “We just read the book and it is goddam good”, as the permanent secretary Horace Engdahl declared.

Also the second question – why just now? – can be answered. The citation recalls the fabulous historian, with a view to the forgotten face of history. Without neglecting works like The Flounder, beginning at the dawn of history, the jury naturally focussed upon the great recreator of the century just about to end. Grass is, in the secretary’s words, “one of the really important writers investigating and explaining the twentieth century to us”; giving him the last prize of the century was “an easy decision”. In other words, the choice long due found its perfect moment at the very end of the period that Grass had summed up in his incomparable way.

Grass’s stronger position in recent years is, of course, also due to the growing understanding of his role as a source of energy in literature. In 1972 he was still a solitary master. In recent years he has been hailed as a precursor by writers such as Salman Rushdie, Nadine Gordimer, Gabriel García Márquez, Antonio Lobo Antunes, and Kenzaburo Oe. Grass has found his place among the “pioneers”.

This choice at the end of the century has, however, also another purport. The Prizes to Hesse, Gide, Eliot, and Faulkner introduced a half-century of new competence for the difficult mission. The 1999 Prize is an indication of how far the jury has managed to make the Prize for Literature a literary award. The reference to moral values at the expense of experimental art in 1972 would be hard to imagine in the present Academy. We also notice the explicit disregard of the political implications that made Grass’s last novel an apple of discord in his country. The Literary Prize has made an instructive journey since 1901. At the beginning of the new century it has become the Literary Prize that its name announces.

 


 

Bibliography

Espmark, K., The Nobel Prize in Literature. A Study of the Criteria behind the Choices. G.K. Hall & Co, Boston 1991.

 


 

* Published as a chapter of The Nobel Prize: The First 100 Years, Agneta Wallin Levinovitz and Nils Ringertz, eds., Imperial College Press and World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., 2001.

Kjell Espmark (b. 1930) is a poet, a novelist, and a literary historian. He was professor in comparative Literature at the University of Stockholm 1978-1995, became a member of the Swedish Academy in 1981 and the chairman of its Nobel Committee in 1988. His poetry can be read in a dozen languages, including English: Béla Bartók against the Third Reich (1985), Route Tournante (1993), and Five Swedish Poets (1997). The first in a series of seven novels, Glömskans tid (“The Age of Oblivion”, 1987-1997, is available in French (L´Oubli, 1990) and Italian (L´Oblio, 1998). The best-known of his seven books of criticism (including studies of Harry Martinsson, Tomas Tranströmer, and the tradition from Baudelaire) is The Nobel Prize in Literature, A Study of the Criteria behind the choices (1986; in English in 1991); it can also be read in French, German, Greek, and Chinese.

 

First published 3 December 1999

 

Source: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/articles/espmark/

Plotinus in ‘Mont Blanc’ and ‘Adonais’

Piecing together the religion and philosophy of a poet is often a thankless task. So fluid and flexible are they, so entirely at the service of the poetic event, that the effort to reconstruct them may spoil the poetry while leaving unsatisfied the thirst for intellectual coherence. Yet the power of Shelley’s verse depends on the degree to which we take seriously his self-image as a prophet and a religious teacher. Its beauty cannot be abstracted from its moral and liberative thrust, and this in turn is inextricable from the underlying metaphysical doctrine. Sketching the doctrine in broad strokes, we may distinguish three aspects: a vision of Love and Beauty, manifested in the universe; an ideal of Mind or of creative Imagination; and the sense of an impersonal and inconceivable ultimate reality, which Shelley sometimes calls `God’. In the present essay I shall argue that the contours of this philosophy come into clearer focus if we relate them to the three dimensions of transcendental reality in Plotinus: the Soul, the Mind, and the One. Two poems in particular, `Mont Blanc’ and Adonais, acquire greater authority and formal beauty when more attention is paid to their Plotinian resonances.

Shelley came under Neoplatonic influence when he joined the `Orphic’ circle of Thomas Taylor in November 112. Taylor held that Plotinus `was the first, who, having penetrated the profound wisdom of antiquity, delivered it to posterity without the concealment of mystic symbols and fabulous narrations’ (quoted, Woodman 12). In Queen Mab (113), `the World Soul, which Shelley encountered in his reading of the Timaeus in Taylor’s translation, is mystically conceived as the animating power of the universe of which the individual soul is the microcosmic form’ (Woodman 0). The poem confusingly syncretizes the World-soul with D’Holbach’s materialistic `Necessity’. In 116, `Mont Blanc’ and the `Hymn to Intellectual Beauty’ show a loftier Platonic vision. Later, Shelley’s Neoplatonism was refined through his work on translating Plato in 117, his immersion in Italian literature, his intensive reading of Plato in 120, until it found its ripest expression in Adonais (121).

Usually Shelley is content with an undifferentiated concept of `intellectual beauty’ – close to that of the Symposium – to which he then gives godlike traits as `some unseen Power’ (`Hymn to Intellectual Beauty’). In reading `Mont Blanc’ and Adonais, however, it is well to bear in mind the distinctions that Plotinus makes between the Soul, as the principle of life and love, the Mind, as the realm of intellectual beauty, and the One or the Good as transcending this realm. Shelley may stress the continuity between the three dimensions more than their differences. Nonetheless, if we collapse them into a vague `intuitive awareness of something permanent, something apart from the flux of sense experience’ (Vivian 570), we cannot do justice to the spiritual drama of these poems.

In `Mont Blanc’, two goals of Shelley’s religious questioning are presented. The first is the sublime impersonal Absolute which is symbolized by the summit of Mont Blanc and which has many of the traits of Plotinus’s One. Usually the poem is taken to express awe at the inhuman power of Necessity ruling the universe. But this does not do justice to the sublime tone of:

 

Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky,

Mont Blanc appears, – still, snowy, and serene. (60-61).

 

Of the One, Plotinus writes:

One should not enquire whence it comes, for there is no “whence”: for it does not really come or go away anywhere, but appears (phainetai) or does not appear. So one must not chase after it, but wait quietly till it appears, preparing oneself to contemplate it, as the eye awaits the rising of the sun. (Enneads V 5.8, trans. Armstrong).

Viewers of Mount Fuji will savour the analogy between the appearing and disappearing of a mountain and this feature of mystic awareness of the One.

As in Plotinus, Shelley’s absolute is beyond Mind, and it is other than Mind. It is also beyond existence (epekeina tes ousias). Could Shelley be alluding to this idea when he writes: `It is infinitely improbable that the cause of mind, that is, of existence, is similar to mind’ (`On Life’, 119, Shelley VI 197)? If he moves beyond `reality as defined by the Intellectual Philosophy’ (the level of Mind) and `know[s] imaginatively the Power, which is unknowable’, this is not a `purely suppositive’ movement (Wasserman 101); rather the apprehension of the absolute is sustained by two sources: the Neoplatonic tradition, and the poet’s own contemplative sense of ultimate reality, with which the symbol of the mountain chimes:

 

Power dwells apart in its tranquillity

Remote, serene, and inaccessible (96-97).

 

Plotinus, too, speaks of the One as `alone and isolated from all other things’ (Enn. V 5.13). When the One is thought of as the Good it is conceived in terms of Power: `he is the productive power of thoughtful intelligent life… he has infinity in the sense of power’ (Enn. V 5.10); `for it has all power; that which comes after it has not all power, but as much as can come after it and derive from it… He does not need the things which have come into being from him. (Enn. V 5.12). `Mont Blanc’ evokes the One in terms of power, which is not yet, as in Adonais, the power of self-diffusing love: `the power is there,/The still and solemn power’ (127-8); the word `there’ (repeated in the following lines) is the ekei used by Plotinus to name the Intelligible World. Shelley used it for the earthly paradise in Queen Mab (VIII, IX).

Shelley hailed this coldly impersonal idea of God as a liberation from centuries of Christian cruelty and superstition. In the `Essay on Christianity’, also dating from 1816, he interprets Jesus Christ as teaching a similar doctrine: `It is important to observe that the author of the Christian system had a conception widely differing from the gross imaginations of the vulgar relatively to the ruling Power of the universe. He everywhere represents this power as something mysteriously and illimitably pervading the frame of things’ (Shelley VI 230). Perhaps influenced by the argument of Hume’s Epicurus (in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, chapter xi), Shelley was inclined to see the creative power as sharing the limits and imperfections of the world it had produced: `Though evil stain its work, and it should be/Like its creation, weak yet beautiful’ (Prometheus Unbound III i, 14-15). Shelley is not a passive spectator of the One: he questions it and he interprets its voice. His prophetic role is to make felt the voice of the Absolute cutting through the world’s `codes of fraud and woe’ (1) and introducing a heavenly order into the tragic chaos of mutability.

 

The secret strength of things

Which governs thought, and to the infinite dome

Of heaven is a law, inhabits thee!

And what wert thou, and earth, and stars, and sea,

If to the human mind’s imaginings

Silence and solitude were vacancy? (139-144).

 

Mind and cosmos are governed by the One. Yet Shelley introduces a distinctive, modern twist in suggesting that this cosmic order and the absolute itself remain a hypothesis of the human mind. `If the human mind did not, in silence and solitude, plunge into these realms of speculation… – then, in effect, the Principle itself (“thou”) would have no significance’ (Vivian 57). However, it seems clear that the `silence and solitude’ are the mountain’s. They symbolize the absolute to the poet’s imagination. The emphasis is not on the process of imaginative apprehension but on the ultimate that it falteringly glimpses.

The other theme of `Mont Blanc’ is the universal Mind, which embraces the forms of all things, and of which the individual mind is a portion; this roughly corresponds to Plotinus’s Nous. If one attempts to explain Shelley’s `Intellectual Philosophy’ exclusively in terms of the British empirical tradition one has to give more weight to Berkeley than Shelley’s lack of interest in him allows. Shelley differs from Berkeley in not associating Mind with a creator God, in distinguishing Mind from the supreme Power, and in refusing to make a sharp distinction between the Mind and the human mind (see Wasserman 75): in each of these respects Shelley is closer to Plotinus. What the poem has to say about the dimension of mind is complicated and obscure. `Shelley has not arrived at any conclusion about the ultimate nature of the mind’ (Vivian 575). But the Plotinian resonances of this account allow us to situate them firmly in the total structure. The snow gathered on the mountain may represent Mind in its supreme form, before it expresses itself in the world and human minds. In Prometheus Unbound II iii, 39-40 the metaphor is reversed; the snows of the impending avalanche gather `in Heaven-defying minds/As thought by thought is piled’.

In `Tintern Abbey’, Wordsworth’s loftiest flight corresponds to Shelley’s level of Mind: `A motion and a spirit, that impels/All thinking things, all objects of all thought’ (100-1). The sublime simplicity and detachment of the One does not emerge in Wordsworth even at his most visionary. It is Shelley’s domain, as the poet of height, whose imagination habitually vaulted at an altitude inaccessible to other poets. This difference between the level of One and that of Mind is elided by Jerrold E. Hogle when he identifies the Power as natura naturans and sees its withdrawal as pointedly alluding to Wordsworth’s `something far more deeply interfused,/Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns’ (Hogle 109).

Coleridge in his `Hymn Before Sun-rise’ is moved to prayer by Mont Blanc: `I worshipped the Invisible alone’, and thinks of God who created it: `Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in Earth?’ Hogle claims that Shelley subverts a version of the `metaphysics of presence’ by using Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s metaphors for other ends; but it might be closer to the mark to say that he rewrites Coleridge’s Christian piety in Plotinian terms. To say that Shelley gives no account of the origins of thought except `a movement of transfers between differences that has no one original point of departure and recalls no singular author’ (Hogle 114) is to miss the role of the One. To see Shelley as aiming at `the recovery of interacting “waves” without an origin from within [Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s] tyrannical assertions of an origin that is finally God’ (Hogle 114) does little justice to Shelley’s fascination with the ultimate origin of things. When he redrafts his predecessors’ language for a more comprehensive religious vision, tinged with agnosticism, his motive is not an unreasonable phobia about divine origins, but a keener nostalgia for the absolute. To say that `the Power is a sheer “becoming other” or a going out of itself in self-extensions of its “electric life”‘ (Hogle 117) misses Shelley’s sense that the emanations from the One leave its self-sufficiency inviolate (as in Plotinus). The poem analyses the imaginative movement back to the origin in a way that might recall Freudian analyses of transference, but the imaginings are not unmasked as mere delusion. Hogle goes too far in claiming that the Power is intrinsically self-deconstructive and that this is Shelley’s revolutionary message.

However, there is a residual ambiguity in the poem. The mountain suggests both Plotinian transcendence and some purely materialistic Power. The Demogorgon scene in Prometheus Unbound also leaves it unclear how the `deep truth’ that is `imageless’ (II iv, 116) is to be conceived – whether as materialistic necessity or a sublime elusive absolute. In Adonais, Shelley makes a great imaginative effort to overcome the materialism articulated in the poem’s despairing first stanzas, rising by degrees to his strongest affirmation of the Plotinian absolute. To reduce Shelley’s religiosity to a theory of imaginative projections underestimates the validating experience of inspiration, or grace, which underlies his `sceptical’ soundings of the `deep truth’ and gives them a positive cast.

Adonais is lucid where `Mont Blanc’ is murky, and it culminates in an image of the One which is vividly focused and unambiguously benevolent despite the sacred dread it still inspires. The Platonism is more orthodox and more authoritative than anywhere else in Shelley, as if the Greek elegiac mood had brought his imagination into perfect accord with the tradition. The Plotinian dimension of the poem has been understudied. `The Plotinian theory of emanation is rather prominent in the relation of the One and the Many, in Keats’s being made one with Nature and the Eternal’ (Notopoulos 292). But there is more to be said than this. Plato’s Phaedo is a major source for the theme of immortality, as are the Symposium and Phaedrus for the theme of Intellectual Beauty. But the conclusion of the poem is not adequately explained solely by reference to Plato: `in his death he [Keats] has become united with the true essence of Intellectual Beauty, which will shine for him in all the vivid and unfading and imageless reality which Plato ascribed to it’ (Notopoulos 291). The vagueness of this can be remedied if we distinguish between the `Eternal Beauty’ of which Keats’s soul has become a portion (corresponding to the Plotinian World-soul, the third hypostasis in the triad) and the dimensions of Mind and One (the second and first hypostases). In the lines

 

Dust to the dust! but the pure spirit shall flow

Back to the burning fountain whence it came,

A portion of the Eternal. (stanza 3).

 

Notopoulos sees a borrowing from Phaedo here, and adds that `the Platonism of this passage is refracted through the Plotinian doctrine of emanation of souls from the One’ (Notopoulos 294). He notes that the burning fountain is Plotinian, though coming to Shelley from the Platonic tradition rather than from a direct reading of Plotinus. `The one Spirit’s plastic stress’ (st. 43), recalling the Cambridge Platonist Cudworth’s notion of Plastic Nature, conforms to Plotinus’s view that the power bringing the universe into being is nature’s self-contemplation, while nature is born of Soul’s self-contemplation, Soul derives from Mind’s self-contemplation, and the latter comes into being through and as contemplation of the One.

Shelley gives each element of the triad an empirical content. Thus the Soul of the cosmos is associated with love (`love’s delight’, st. 19) which is expressed in loveliness. The figure of Urania, based on Plato’s heavenly Aphrodite – `the eldest daughter of Uranus, born without a mother, whom we call the Uranian’ (Plato, Symposium 210 E, trans. Shelley VII 174) and Milton’s Muse, belongs to this dimension. Plotinus identifies this figure with the Soul:

The heavenly one (ourania), since she is said to be the child of Kronos, and he is Intellect, must be the most divine kind of soul, springing directly from him, pure from the pure, remaining above, as neither wanting nor being able to descend to the world here below… Now since Aphrodite follows upon Kronos… she directed her activity towards him and felt affinity with him, and filled with passionate love for him brought forth Love (Eros), and with this child of hers she looks towards him. (Enn. III 5.2)

 

Her warmth, life, passion are opposed to the coldness of death:

 

Where wert thou mighty Mother, when he lay,

When thy Son lay, pierced by the shaft which flies

In darkness? (st. 2).

 

A possible echo of Psalm 91.5-6 (`You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, not the pestilence that stalks in darkness’) fits the tactic of converting biblical diction into the currency of a Romantic and Platonic faith.

 

Following pastoral convention, all Nature, led by Urania, mourns the dead poet. Critics unable to share Shelley’s delight in classical allusions and conceits – largely derived from Italian and Spanish poetic tradition – find this elegiac machinery tiresome. But it seems that Shelley’s high play here corresponds to Plotinus’s notion of play as contemplation: `Are we now contemplating as we play? Yes, we and all who play are doing this, or at any rate this is what they aspire to as they play’ (Enn. III 8.1).

Again and again we are reminded that the corpse cannot be brought back to life:

 

Death feeds on his mute voice, and laughs at our despair. (st. 3)

 

The harmony between his poetic thoughts and the natural world also seems irrevocably broken:

 

All he had loved, and moulded into thought

From shape, and hue, and odour, and sweet sound,

Lamented Adonais. (st. 14).

 

But the very supposition of such sympathy between the poet and nature prepares the later declaration that his soul is one with the soul of nature, following a technique of redefinition based on Petrarch’s Trionfi: `potential ideas, representing a new or advanced perspective, are first prevented from becoming actual, but are subsequently allowed to realize themselves’ (Weinberg 191). The credibility of the consolatory topos is also prepared by the full-scale evocation of the World-soul in stanza 19, with its pantheist revision of Genesis (`the great morning of the world when first/God dawned on Chaos’). Moreover, delusive impressions that Adonais’s corpse is not really dead prefigure the final declaration that his soul still lives (st. 10, 25). The `leprous corpse’ which `exhales itself in flowers’ (st. 20) deflates the literal usage of the myth of Adonis as vegetation God, borrowed from Bion, which lies in the background in stanzas 1-2; its true value as a metaphor for the spiritual reviviscence of Adonais appears only in the second part. The Adonis legend thus helps to cement together the pastoral and Platonic conventions.

The first stage in the apotheosis of the dead poet associates him with the World-soul: `He is made one with Nature’ (st. 42). Empirically, this means only that his poems have become part of our perception of Nature:

 

There is heard

His voice is all her music, from the moan

Of thunder, to the song of night’s sweet bird..

 

But Shelley does not avoid the metaphysical foundation of this vision:

 

while the one Spirit’s plastic stress

Sweeps through the dull dense world, compelling there,

All new successions to the forms they wear..

 

This is still not the ultimate reality: `Both poets have for a time coalesced with Nature’s “plastic stress”, though neither poet when thus immersed can properly grasp the divine reality, the “ideal prototype”, behind what was being shaped’ (Woodman 175).

Some critics claim that Urania is presented in a merely ironic way and is dismissed in the second half of the poem: `She exists only within the myth of Adonis, and when Shelley abandons the myth, Urania disappears… Those who remain with Urania, playing with lovely images, ultimately delude themselves’ (Woodman 169-70). However, the Plotinian theme of Soul suggests a continuity between the time-bound mourning lover of the first part and the `never wearied love’ (st. 42) or `sustaining Love’ (st. 54) of the second part. Urania in her lower aspect is `chained to Time, and cannot thence depart!’ (st. 26). This is puzzling, for in the source here, Bion’s Lament for Adonis, it is because Aphrodite is a goddess that she cannot follow her dead lover. (One might be tempted to find here a confused echo of Enn. III 5.2 – Aphrodite’s dependence on Kronos taken as dependence on chronos, Time.) The Plotinian thesis that time originates as Soul disperses itself in the manifold (Enn. III 7.11) may be illuminating here. Urania is associated with this downward-oriented aspect of Soul. She can offer only the immortality of the ever-renewed cycles of nature. In the second half of the poem a higher aspect of Soul is emphasized. It is envisioned as the ‘one Spirit’ (st. 43), the creator rather than the captive of the natural world.

Though Urania, in this subtle sense, lives on in the second part of the poem, it is a mistake to claim that she is fused with the One itself, regarded as identical with `one Spirit’ of stanza 42. The Plotinian distance between the World-soul and the utterly transcendent One seems to me to be retained in Adonais: Urania is fused with the love that emanates from the One rather than with the One itself. This distinction may be less marked in other poems: `Many of the epithets used to decribe “Emilia” in Epipsychidion… anticipate the epithets applied to the “One” of the third part of Adonais‘ (Baker 247). But here again it seems that the idealized Emilia’s epithets – `light, and love, and immortality/Sweet Benediction in the eternal Curse’ (20-1) – are those of Soul as it emanates from the One rather than of the One itself. Emilia’s beauty is `in that Beauty furled/Which penetrates and clasps and fills the world (102-3), but she is not identified with the ultimate source of that beauty.She is a Mirror (30), which suggests not identity with the One but a mind or soul fully receptive of the One’s light (see Adonais, st. 54).

The second stage of the apotheosis sees Adonais as taking his place in the domain of Mind, which is distinct from that of Soul and from the One. Shelley envisions Mind not as the world of Forms or of self-thinking intellect, but more accessibly as the realm of poetic thought and as the world of immortal fame inhabited by great creative spirits. He focuses on one aspect of Plotinus’s doctrine – the idea of Mind as a communion of individual spirits (`spirit’ occurs in this sense in 4, 29, 32, 3, 40, 45, 47, 55), as `a living richly varied sphere; a thing all faces, shining with living faces; all the pure souls running together into the same place’ (Enn. VI 7.15) – and finds an empirical counterpart for this in the immortal fame of great poets, who form an elect company. This Intelligible World is populated by individual poets, whose portraits are scattered throughout the poem: Milton, `third among the sons of light’ (st. 4), the four mourners: Byron, Moore, Shelley, Hunt (st. 30-35), and `the inheritors of unfulfilled renown’ (st. 45), Chatterton, Sidney and Lucan. As in the case of the poet’s survival as a note in nature’s music, here again posthumous survival may be amount to nothing more than a metaphor for undying reputation. `If Shelley has in mind any specific location for the region to which Adonais has risen, it is the third heaven of Dante’s Paradiso‘ (Baker 249). This is the sphere of Venus, the abode of lovers. Its amalgamation with the Plotinian Intelligible World is inspired by Dante’s reference to how certain Intelligences (angels) move the sphere of Venus by the intellect alone (Paradiso VIII, 34-7). Emilia, in Epipsychidion is also imaged as a star (2, 60); she too belongs to Dante’s `third sphere’ (117), and as its `pilot’ she is associated with Venus (Urania!). The line `Thy spirit’s sister, the lorn nightingale’ (st. 17) suggests a further association between the two poems, for it recalls not only the `Ode to a Nightingale’ and the nightingales (adones or adonides) of Moschus’s Lament for Bion, but also Emilia, `my adored Nightingale’ (10).

The dimension of Mind is evoked as early as stanza 1: `his fate and fame shall be/An echo and a light unto eternity!’ and is developed in stanzas 4-5. Mind is constrasted with death and darkness, just as Soul is. But the stress falls less on physical corruption than on the spiritual terrors of death: `he went, unterrified/Into the gulph of death’ (st. 4). The light of Soul is warm sunlight. The Mind, as it appears in this life, is a burning fire, which death extinguishes: `extinct in their refulgent prime’ (st. 5), `quenched in a most cold repose’ (st. 20), `the spirit’s self has ceased to burn’ (st. 40). It is once imaged as a sun: `The sun comes forth, and many reptiles spawn’ (st. 29). But this very passage shows that at death Mind assumes its true shape, that of a star, in `the spirit’s awful night’. Not in the cyclic loveliness of nature, but in the immutability of Dantean `immortal stars’ (st. 29), `joyous stars’ (st. 41), does immortality find its definitive figure. On the level of Soul the opposition is between Adonais’s loveliness and the shaft of darkness (death and corruption); on the level of Mind it is between his virtue and the vileness of his enemies (st. 3, 40). The magnificent outbursts of indignation sharpen the image of the poet’s mental virtue. The pastoral and Platonic dimensions of the poem are held together at this level by the fact that Adonais’s tomb is presented from the start as `a grave among the eternal’ (st. 7), located in the Roman cemetery which recurs in the latter half of the poem; and by the fact that Adonais is never presented as a real shepherd at all, but as a shepherd of thoughts (st. 9), well-fitted to be `gathered to the kings of thought’ (st. 4). After the section on Soul (st. 41-43) we have the fullest vision of the starry realm of Mind (st. 44-46). The imagery of light and dark reaches its strongest concentration about this theme: `Like stars to their appointed heights they climb’ (st. 44). The Roman cemetery is now unfolded as imaging the glory of mind, one of the many gentle transformations which unite the mourning and consolation in the poem.

The dimension of the One seems to emerge unprepared, and in a shocking contradiction to what precedes.The One appears — like the supreme Beauty in Plato — exaiphnes, `on a sudden’ (Symposium 210E, trans. Shelley VII 206), in a way that attests its sovereign independence:

 

The One remains, the many change and pass;

Heaven’s light forever shines, earth’s shadows fly. (st. 52).

 

The majesty of the incantation is helped by its foundation in the most basic Platonic teaching. Cameron, who thinks Shelley could not have entertained the notion of Heaven (and who misses the purely Platonic, non-Christian reference of the word here) is forced to imagine that the words `Die/If thou wouldst be which thou dost seek’ are an ironic apostrophe to the hostile Christian critic Southey (Cameron 442)! The accent in this third phase of the apotheosis seems to reverse that of the first phase in joyously affirming death and devaluing the loveliness of Nature as mere distraction from absolute reality. There is an apparent incoherence in the account of Adonais’s life beyond the grave: is he

 

a portion of the loveliness

Which once he made more lovely (st. 43).

 

or has he disappeared into the pure simplicity of the One?:

 

Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,

Stains the white radiance of Eternity,

Until Death tramples it to fragments. (st. 52).

 

Let us note that the same tension between a rejoicing in the plurality of the world and a cult of the purity of the One runs through Plotinus’s philosophy too. Soul and Mind add something to the One and stain its pure radiance: `the first one of all, on which the others depend, we must let be what it is, adding nothing further to it’ (Enn. V 6.6). The tension can snap either in a Gnostic rejection of the world as evil – to which Shelley partly inclines in speaking of `the eclipsing Curse/Of birth’ (st. 54) – or in a Stoic affirmation of the cosmos as supreme reality, which cuts off the ascent to the One. How deep this tension runs may be seen from Plotinus’s tendency to see even the emergence of Mind from the One as the result of tolma, rebellious daring (see Torchia 37-8).

In Adonais the One, though making its majestic entrance without immediate preparation, has been intimated from afar throughout the poem. We are led to it through the realms of Soul and Mind, and the final section recapitulates themes of Soul and Mind, since the One is the final inner truth of both. Mind does not constitute a self-sufficient realm, but yearns back to its source in the One: `the pure spirit shall flow/Back to the burning fountain whence it came’ (st. 3).

Both Soul and Mind are evoked in the lines

 

Rome’s azure sky,

Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak

The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak. (st. 52).

 

Sky and flowers belong to the natural world quickened by Soul; they blend here with the monuments of Mind. The One is what ensouls the world –

 

That Light whose smile kindles the Universe,

That Beauty in which all things work and move (st. 54).

 

— and minds are its mirrors of it

 

Burns bright or dim, as each are mirrors of

The fire for which all thirst. (st. 54).

 

This stanza tempts many readers to fuse Soul, Mind, and One together in a single World-soul; but within the unity of the One, its Light and its Beauty, it is important to maintain the distinctions established by Plotinus. Porphyry dubbed Soul, Mind and the One the three `hypostases’ but it is truer to Plotinus to think of them, with Shelley, as three perspectives on a single reality. If the empirical support for the Soul theme is the beauty of nature and poetry, and that for the Mind theme is the virtue and fame of genius, the theme of the One draws support from both of these; it is what underlies Soul and Mind. They are what they are because they proceed from it, the supreme Good. In addition to these effects at the level of Soul and Mind, the phenomenology of the One has its own distinctive trait: it is a final purity that rejects all the shadows and transfusions of earthly life. The One corresponds to a deep disillusionment with life and longing for death. In its sheer transcendence of what we have been able to envision so far, it is a ripping of the `painted veil’ which reveals the life beyond life, which is the true heart of life. `Die,/If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek!’ (st. 52). These accents cannot be mistaken for Byronic bravado or mere funeral oratory. Death had struck at Shelley from every side, and he evidently senses its imminence for himself (whereas the author of `Lycidas’ dies only to his youth, turning happily to `pastures new’).

To equate the One with `the Divine light of the World-soul’ (Baker 251) is incorrect unless one stresses that the One transcends the World-soul as its enabling principle. `Panpsychism’ (Baker 252) is an inadequate description of Shelley’s metaphysics. To say that Shelley combines Love and Eternity, Asia and Demogorgon, in the One (Baker 252), is misleading unless one adds that Love and its activity remains subordinate to the One, which is not active, but simply `remains’ or, at best, `shines’. It is only partly correct to say that `Sometime after 119, “Demogorgon” was metamorphosed from an essentially passive principle to an active or informing principle by fusion with the principle of love’ (Baker 252). Shelley now seems to recognize a fully transcendent absolute, no longer merely a projection of human imagination, or sharing the defects of the world it produces. The One is an unambiguously benevolent force, unlike Demogorgon or the Power of `Mont Blanc’, yet in its utter transcendence even of the light and love that emanates from it, it inspires a sacred terror which leaves no room for the irony of the close of `Mont Blanc’.

The One, as in Plotinus, calls forth a conversion, a turning, whereby all things return to it as their source. Adonais has assumed in death this posture of contemplation of the One, and his example draws the poet to undergo the same formation into luminous mind under the drawing-power of the One. In Plotinus mystical contact with the One is prepared by a long period of theoretical instruction and practice in virtue. But the moment of grace comes unbidden. Shelley has us believe that it happens as he writes. First the invitation coming from the One, via Adonais, is heard:

 

the low wind whispers near:

‘Tis Adonais calls! (st. 53).

 

The majestic naming of the Light, Beauty, Benediction, Love that issue from the One (st. 54) climaxes in `now beams on me’ and what this feels like is thrillingly conveyed in the closing stanza. The radicality of his poetic calling spurs Shelley to a final blind embrace of the absolute. To sing the beauty of nature and the glory of mind is not enough: mind itself beacons to the highest simplicity of the One. The final incantation (`The breath whose might I have invoked in song/Descends on me…’) recalls Enn. VI 7.36:

Up to this point one has been led along by instruction and settled firmly in beauty, which has engaged one in thinking, but now one is carried out of this dimension of thinking by the surge of the wave of Mind itself and lifted on high by a kind of swell, and one has seen, suddenly, not seeing how one has seen, for the vision, filling the eyes with light, allows one to see nothing else but that light.

The One itself does not think (Enn. V 6; VI 7.37-42); it is beyond the duality of knowing and known; and to draw near to the One involves a surrender of thinking, which is experienced as ecstasy, but which is also fearful: `in proportion as the soul goes toward the formless, since it is utterly unable to comprehend it…, it slides away and is afraid that it may have nothing at all (Enn. VI 9.3). To leave behind the world of form `the intellect must return, so to speak, backwards, and give itself up, in a way, to what lies behind it’ (Enn. III 8.9).

Rather than say that `there is an apparent “absence of progress” from one point in the discourse to another: each stanza recasts essentially the same vision of immortality in different terms, giving the impression that, from whatever point in the cosmos one is looking, a single reality is perceived’ (Weinberg 194), one can note advances to new perspectives in stanzas 39, 41, 44, 47, 52, punctuating the ascent through Soul (st. 41) and Mind (st. 44) to the One (st. 52), and the naked emergence of the poet himself in stanzas 54-5 is an electrifying closing twist. Weinberg is looking at the conclusion in light of Dante’s Paradiso (he sees stanzas 1-17 as an Inferno and stanzas 1-37 as a Purgatorio), but this leads to an undifferentiated reading which misses the Plotinian architecture (Weinberg does not mention Plotinus).

We are now in a position to see how outrageously dismissive is the view that `the imported Platonism of the last five stanzas has the same straining, thinness of tone associated with a far less mature and more blatant work, the “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty”‘ (Holmes 657). We can also counter the subtler suspicion that the Shelley’s tone of passionate conviction here is a wilful self-intoxication, an unstable feat of wishful thinking. The rhetoric of these stanzas is a delicate balancing-act:

The energy which fuels the final section of Adonais proceeds not from any conviction of Keats’s apotheosis but from contrary resources of indignation. It is only by continually adverting to the horrors of present existence in this “dull dense world”… that Shelley can generate, rhetorically, conviction in himself and his readers about some other order of exemplary existence. (Beatty 227).

It is emotion rather than reason that guides Shelley’s exploitation of `a mixture of Stoical, Platonic, Pantheist, Deist, and popular sentiments’ (Beatty 226). Unlike Dante, who had a stable doctrinal foundation, Shelley had to work with home-made conceptions:

Writing within an esoteric tradition both alien and isolated from the European traditions of thought which surrounded him, he is forced ultimately to look into himself and find his divinity there. He has somehow to make his poetic faith, which in the end he recognizes as a `willing suspension of disbelief’, a matter of religious faith, which is to say, a matter of absolute truth. (Woodman 177).

Shelley saw Platonic immortality as one of `those ideas which exalt and ennoble humanity’, though `until better arguments can be produced than sophisms which disgrace the cause’ the desire for immortality is `the only presumption that eternity is the inheritance of every thinking being’ (quoted, Woodman 7).

If we may glimpse, underlying Adonais, a reflectively appropriated structure of Platonist doctrine, reproducing some of the diversity and inner coherence of Plotinus’s thought, not merely as a source for consolatory topoi but on the same level as the investment in Christian belief that sustains Milton’s `Lycidas’. The poem is indeed a revision of Milton’s, repeating his retrieval of Greek pastoral myth for a contemporary religious vision. Both elegies reflect a crisis of young manhood: Adonais was completed on June , 1821; Shelley was 29 on August 4th; `Lycidas’ was written in November, 1637; Milton was 29 on December 9th. Milton’s crisis is resolved by turning to life, to `pastures new’; Shelley’s by accepting the call of death, embraced in Plotinian resolution. In both works high and artificial literary neo-classicism masks a deep existential thrust which is revealed by the oneiric power of the images deployed and the unbroken confidence of the diction.

Shelley shows little familiarity with Saint Augustine, who provides the strongest counter-force to the Plotinian tradition by absorbing Plotinian mysticism into an experience of a personal God of grace and salvation (in Confessions VII and IX). Shelley was repelled by Christian history and the imaginative platitude of popular Christianity; the spiritual Christianity of Paul, John and Augustine remained a closed book to him. His challenge to Christians today is to imagine their faith as powerfully as he imagined his.

 

REFERENCES

Armstrong, A.H. (trans.). Plotinus I-VII. Loeb Classical Library, 1966-4.

Baker, Carlos. Shelley’s Major Poetry: The Fabric of a Vision. New York: Russell & Russell, 1961.

Beatty, Bernard. ‘The Transformation of Discourse: Epipsychidion, Adonais, and some lyrics’. In: Essays on Shelley, ed. Miriam Allott. Liverpool University Press, 1982.<

Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Shelley: The Golden Years. Harvard UP, 1974.

Hogle, Jerrold. ‘Shelley as Revisionist: Power and Belief in Mont Blanc’. In: The New Shelley, ed. G. Kim Blank. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991, pp. 10-27..

Holmes, Richard. Shelley: The Pursuit. Penguin Books, 1987.

Notopoulos, James A. The Platonism of Shelley. Duke UP, 1949.

Reiman, Donald H. and Sharon B. Powers (eds). Shelley’s Poetry and Prose. New York and London: Norton, 1977.

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. Complete Works, ed. Roger Ingpen and Walter E. Peck. New York: Gordian Press, 1965.

Torchia, N. Joseph. Plotinus, Tolma, and the Descent of Being. New York: Peter Lang, 1993.

Vivian, Charles H. ‘The One “Mont Blanc”’. In: Reiman and Powers, pp. 569-79.

Weinberg, Alan M. Shelley’s Italian Experience. London: Macmillan, 1991.

Wasserman, Earl R. ‘Mont Blanc’. In: Shelley: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. George M. Ridenour. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1965, pp. 69-102.

Woodman, Ross Greig. The Apocalyptic Vision in the Poetry of Shelley. University of Toronto Press, 1964.

 

From: K. Kamijima et al., ed. Centre and Circumference. Tokyo: Kirihara, 1995, pp. 466-81.

 

Source: http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/shelley/