39 pages • 1 hour readPercy Bysshe Shelley
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The relationship between Percy Shelley and John Keats gives “Adonais” its historic context. The friendship between Shelley and Keats is and is not central to the argument of “Adonais.” Friendships between writers are often tricky things as such friendships can be distorted by petty jealousy, dark paranoia, and flat-out animosity. Sometimes these friendships become essential in understanding the evolution of a writer, and these relationships—Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, Harper Lee, and Truman Capote—help define each writer’s vision. Friendships between writers often began during periods in their lives when neither felt certain of their talent and drew on others to define the direction their own writing would take.
Within popular imagination, Shelley and Keats seem inseparable. Born just three years apart, they corresponded about the Romantic revolution in poetry of which they were both a part. They both authored towering works that defied inherited conventions of poetry; both dealt with critical lambasting; both led intemperate and scandalous personal lives. They met on several occasions in England and would tragically die at a young age within a year of each other.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley