Non-Fictional Prose

by Charles G.D. Roberts

Edited by D.M.R. Bentley and Laurel Boone




It has long been my belief, based upon experience in the class-room, that preëminent among english poems for their educational value are certain of the representative poems of Shelley. If made use of merely as a tool for the teaching of grammar and rhetoric, these poems might prove themselves neither more or less inspiring than such work as "The Vanity of Human Wishes." If so taught, on the other hand, as to bring the student into something like sympathetic association with Shelley’s genius, there are few poems better calculated to exert that uplifting and stimulating influence which is the chief part of true education. A watchword with teachers of literature should be "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise." These poems of Shelley contain in a notable degree the excellences of sincerity, singleness of aim, dignity and beauty of thought and diction, unflagging imagination, and lofty ideality. The student who has been led into vital communion with such qualities as these, who has been admitted to such familiarity with them as is necessary to set working the formative influence of example, has gained, it will be granted, an appreciable step in his education.

The text of this edition, in the main, is that adopted finally by Mr. W.M. Rossetti, and has beeen subjected to careful comparison with the text of the first edition and the edition of Mrs. Shelley. there are a few instances in which, with great diffidence, I have ventured to depart from Mr. Rossetti’s readings. In the sketch of Shelley’s careeer I have aimed at the utmost brevity consistent with clearness. In regard to certain vexed questions I have given conclusions only, without going into that comparison of authorities with which none but the most advanced students need concern themselves. Such students will, of course, turn to the great work of Professor Dowden,— which in all crucial points has been relied upon as final,—and to the interesting volumes of M. Felix Rabbe. The student to whom these expensive works are unattainable may depend upon Mr. William Sharp’s sympathetic and judicious monograph.


"Preface," to Shelley's Alastor and Adonais, ed. Charles G.D. Roberts (New York: Silver Burdett, 1902), 5-6 [back]