Five Questions: Merrilees Roberts on Shelley’s Poetics of Reticence

By Matthew Sangster

Merrilees Roberts is an Independent Scholar based near London. Her work encompasses Romanticism, philosophy, psychology, poetics and literary theory, with a particular focus on Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was the subject of her doctoral thesis. She has recently published work on Prometheus Unbound in the Keats-Shelley Review, an article on Shelley’s prefaces in Romanticism, and a book chapter on shame, affect and The Cenci in Affect Theory and Literary Critical Practice: A Feel for the Text (Palgrave, 2019). Her first monograph, Shelley’s Poetics of Reticence: Shelley’s Shame, which we discuss below, was published by Routledge in April 2020.

1) How did you come to realise you wanted to write a book on Shelley’s poetics of reticence?

The ideas for this project began in my MA thesis; particularly through an analysis of the ending of Julian and Maddalo: A Conversation, which has its own chapter in this book. It occurred to me that Julian withholds things from the reader in the poem’s closing lines – ‘I urged and questioned still, she told me how/ All happened – but the cold world shall not know’, because he is ashamed. …read more