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Queen Mab; A Philosophical Poem; With Notes, published in 1813 in nine cantos with seventeen notes, is the first large poetic work written by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), the English Romantic poet.After substantial reworking, a revised edition of a portion of the text was published in 1816 under the title The Daemon of the World.This poem was written early in Shelley's career and serves as a foundation to his theory of revolution. It is his first major poem. In this work, he depicts a two-pronged revolt involving necessary changes, brought on by both nature and the virtuousness of humans. Shelley took William Godwin's idea of "necessity" and combined it with his own idea of ever-changing nature, to establish the theory that contemporary societal evils would dissolve naturally in time. This was to be coupled with the creation of a virtuous mentality in people who could envision the ideal goal of a perfect society. The ideal was to be reached incrementally, because Shelley (as a result of Napoleon's actions in the French Revolution), believed that the perfect society could not be obtained immediately through violent revolution. Instead it was to be achieved through nature's evolution and ever-greater numbers of people becoming virtuous and imagining a better society. He set the press and ran 250 copies of this radical and revolutionary tract. Queen Mab is infused with scientific language and naturalising moral prescriptions for an oppressed humanity in an industrialising world. He intended the poem to be private and distributed it among his close friends and acquaintances. About 70 sets of the signatures were bound and distributed personally by Shelley, and the rest were stored at William Clark's bookshop in London. A year before his death, in 1821, one of the shopkeepers caught sight of the remaining signatures. The shopkeeper bound the remaining signatures, printed an expurgated edition, and distributed the pirated editions through the black market. The copies were-in the words of Richard Carlisle- "pounced upon," by the Society for the Prevention of Vice. Shelley was dismayed upon discovering the piracy of what he considered to be not just a juvenile production but a work that could potentially "injure rather than serve the cause of freedom." He sought an injunction against the shopkeeper, but since the poem was considered illegal, he was not entitled to the copyright. William Clark was imprisoned for 4 months for publishing and distributing Queen Mab. The British bookseller Richard Carlile issued a new edition of the poem in the 1820s. In spite of prosecution from the Vice Society, Carlile was encouraged by the popularity Shelley's poem enjoyed with the working classes, progressives, and reformers into producing four separate editions of Queen Mab during the 1820s. Between 1821 and the 1830s over a dozen pirated editions of Queen Mab were produced and distributed among and by the labouring classes fuelling, and becoming a "bible" for Chartism. When Shelley's widow, Mary Shelley, published her husband's Poetical Works in 1839, several atheistic passages of the poem were removed. After they were restored in a second edition, the publisher, Edward Moxon, was prosecuted and convicted of blasphemous libel. Percy Bysshe Shelley ( 4 August 1792 - 8 July 1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets, and is regarded by some as among the finest lyric, as well as epic, poets in the English language. A radical in his poetry as well as in his political and social views, Shelley did not see fame during his lifetime, but recognition for his poetry grew steadily following his death. Shelley was a key member of a close circle of visionary poets and writers that included Lord Byron; Leigh Hunt; Thomas Love Peacock; and his own second wife, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.
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