Maurois, Andre. Ariel: the Life of Shelley. Translated by Elle D’Arcy. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1924.
Although Shelley is one of the most famous romantic poets of all time he is treated like a wandering philosopher fixated on Virtue in Maurois’s biography. While the Maurois version doesn’t make it obvious Shelley is a womanizer and has a curious attitude towards the women in his life. For example, Miss Hitchener. When Shelley first meets her he called her his soul’s sister. He convinces her to live with him and his his new wife, Harriet (who is pregnant at the time), but then starts to refer to her as the Brown Devil and can’t wait to be rid of her. Even his best friend Hogg is confused by his change of heart. Shelley does this often, including the women he marries. Aside from his relationships Shelley spends most of his time honing his personal attitudes towards politics and society.
Maurois doesn’t write his biography in the traditional sense. Reading Eleanor Roosevelt’s biography side by side with Percy Shelley was an eye opening experience. The need to cross reference and index everything doesn’t exist with Maurois. the other curious thing is Shelley’s writing takes a backseat to the relationships.
Best quote: “There is nothing which makes a woman appear stupider than secret jealousy” (p 141). Amen.
Reason read: September is Book Festival month and what better way to celebrate than to read about a poet?
Author Fact: Andre Maurois wrote biographies about many different authors besides Shelley.
Book Trivia: Ariel was translated by Ella D’arcy.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover” (p 238). I am not sure why Ariel is listed here. It has nothing to do with the chapter in question.