Unbinding forgiveness: Prometheus Unbound

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Abstract / Description of output

This essay traces the aspirations and limits of forgiveness in Prometheus Unbound and asks whether unbinding can ever amount to forgiving. The implications of unbinding are complicated by the manifold forms of bonds and bondage at stake in Shelley’s drama and in the world in which he lived, from financial instruments to manacles. Their significance and reach call into question what it might mean to read and to historicize Shelley adequately today. The problem is further complicated by Shelley’s understanding of language itself as a kind of bond, exemplified in the drama by the form of the curse, which poses a challenge to straightforward accounts of poetry’s liberating power. To understand unbinding as forgiveness transforms both forgiveness and unbinding; rather than heroic liberation, we are confronted with a mournful but resolute kind of critical engagement that calls into question both the fixity of the past and Romanticism’s supposed investment in futurity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-711
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Romantic Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2022


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