Shelley, a new graphic novel from Europe Comics, details the early days of the famed poet and his scandalous life. We see Shelley as a teenager and young man constantly on the move, never happy in one place. He was ahead of his time in religious views, vegetarianism, and politics, among other things.
He was a brilliant poet and thinker, never afraid to push back against societal norms to advance discussion through intelligent essays and debate. His work, like his personal life, was a scandal from the beginning, and that’s what we see in the story presented in the graphic novel. While he was brilliant as a writer and poet, he was a mess in the realm of love. We see his brief courtship and elopement with his first wife, his subsequent abandonment of her and his new dalliance with Mary Shelley, which would result in his second marriage. The novel focuses mostly on his relationships, with his writing is relegated to the background. This is in keeping with public opinion at the time, which largely ignored his poetry until after his death. It was an interesting and scandalous story, and surprisingly all true.
The art is done in an interesting comic book style, with exaggerated features and special attention to scenery details. It’s a great stylistic choice for the story being told.
Overall, Shelley is an interesting insight into the early life of one of Romanticism’s most esteemed poets. Learning more about his early days sheds light on the work he ferociously created and his rush to live every day fully.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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