- Paperback: 169 pages
- Publisher: Book Jungle (3 April 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594625891
- ISBN-13: 978-1594625893
- Product Dimensions: 19.1 x 1.3 x 23.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
Prometheus Unbound Paperback – Import, 3 Apr 2007
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The play is in four parts. The first two mainly concern the laments of the still bound Prometheus, in good company with a chorus, and assorted character foils. Then Hercules comes to the rescue, and releases him. O Joy. In fact quite a bit of it. There are a lot of “dew-soaked morns” thereafter. Literally. Consider: “…and the dew-mingled rain, Of the calm moonbeams, a soft influence mind, Shall clothe the forest and the fields, ay, even The crag-built deserts of the barren deep, with ever-living leaves, and fruits and flowers.” Well, I’m all for making the desert bloom… in fact, I spent a quarter century watching one’s transformation… and it was not accomplished through mere exhortation. I also like the dew, and have been moved to awe by the moon. But Shelley seemed to overdo it a bit, so I decided to unleash the power of my Kindle, and I found that he used the words “dew” and “moon” each, 23 times.
Certainly Shelley expressed equalitarian sentiments that I can wholeheartedly subscribe to: “And behold, thrones were kingless, and men walked, One with the other even as spirits do, None fawned, none trampled; hate, disdain or fear, Self-love or self-contempt, on human brows, No more inscribed, as o’er the gates of hell, ‘All hope abandon, ye who enter here.’ None frowned, none trembled, none with eager fear.” And later: “The loathsome mask has fallen, the man remains, Sceptreless, free, uncircumscribed, but man equal, unclassed, tribeless and nationless, exempt from awe, worship, degree, the king over himself; just, gentle, wise…” And ending his work on the ultimate of up-notes: “This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free; This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory.”
What to make of all this, since I have not been feeling very victorious lately, and the equalitarian sentiments are being demolished in a world of extreme (and growing!) income inequality? Should it be labelled “escapist literature”? In reading about Shelley at Wikipedia, I was impressed how influential this early 19th Century Romantic was, a Romantic who never made it to 30. The list is long: Gandhi, Tolstoy, Marx, Thoreau, Oscar Wilde, Bertrand Russell, Isadora Duncan. This work is widely considered to be his “masterpiece,” yet no one seems to read it, since there are only three reviews posted at Amazon in the USA and none in the UK. Another telltale sign from Kindle: there were NO passages underlined by others, a first in my reading experience of Kindle books.
I found the 23 “dews” heavy going, as they seemed to turn into treacle. Sure, I take solace in the natural world, the more so as I age. Now that I am decades beyond that demarcation that Shelley never reached, I wonder if it is not time to invert one of those imperative slogans of my youth: “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” Perhaps now it should be that one cannot trust anyone under 30 to understand life, an understanding that is often improved with some creaky bones. In terms of reading pleasure and takeaways, I’d give this work 3-stars, but I’ll admit being intimidated by that long-list, and the very spectrum of his admirers, thus, 4-stars, since maybe I missed something, even a lot.
Both Percy and his dear wife, Mary, were great fans of what Benjamin Franklin was doing at the time, and taken by Franklin's miraculous discovery of...electricity! This was in the days of the great American Statesmen...Franklin was seen then as very cool and his discovery shook the world. Suddenly, this fire from the heavens could be contained in glass jars...
His dear wife, Mary Shelly, started her own book, "Frankenstein," when Percy was halfway into the writing of Prometheus Unbound. This historical event gives much to wonder about as you read. It has nothing to do with the Aeschylus, "Prometheus Bound"--you can skip the Aeschylus and go straight to the Shelly. (And I think...Shelly himself said it had nothing to do with the Greek play, "Prometheus Bound") Either way, you can speed to the Shelly.
This book was suggested by a highly refined gentleman in L.A., Roger Weir, the developer of the LEARNING CIVILIZATION. Weir shared the some of the history of the book that I'm including here, as it added to my enjoyment of the book. Weir suggests Prometheus Unbound to be read along with Fredrick Schiller's "On the Aesthetic Education of Man," as a pair, a complement of two books. As you read, and approach the last part the book, suddenly you connect with the feeling of Schiller's poetry at the end of the Ninth Symphony (the chorous) and you are transported beyond the canopy of the stars...!
"Prometheus Unbound" is one of the finest books in the English Language. It's actually a play, and as readable as Shakespeare, and at an even higher level of refinement and vibration. It's like sitting alone with a spiritual master and listening, listening. Then... BEING... into the unknown unbound...
It might be useful to recall the myth of Prometheus before this superlative reading adventure:
Prometheus was one of the Titans and helped the god Jupiter(Zeus) take over the Heavens to be number-one-God. After this, Prometheus took pity on mankind and stole fire to give to man. Now, Jupiter (Zeus) could not have such a creative thinker roaming heaven and earth and doing favors for men and women. And so Prometheus was chained to a rock in the frozen wastes of what we now call, Sibera. Each day his guts and innards would be plucked out by ravenous birds, and each night his guts and innards would heal and mend--only to be torn out the next day, and the next, to eternity.
Just as the mythological Prometheus liberated man with stealing fire from the Gods--an act for which he is punished by Jupiter (Zeus)...ya know....don't let any man be at the level of Heaven, only below it...don't let any man discover the divine fire within...this book liberates.
(I do "therapy" with people in the ocean-CraniOcean-and work with dolphins --and this book is along a session flow in the ocean. A perfect compliment for meeting the ocean...without and within...for meeting the organic oceanic spiraling waves in love and with freedom.)
After this book, I saw the very first (and best) original "Frankenstein" black and white movie--made in 1931, directed by the great James Whale--and I really got it for the first time...I began to see the Frankenstein image interpenetrating corporate-run-culture, especially in foods at any grocery store in the United States, frozen coagulates of hot dogs, old meat balls, genetic altered fruits...
Percy and Mary were also a pair--the divine united. Percy the blade, Mary the chalice. Their bonding one of the love stories of English poetry.
Awesome read! So grateful it was pointed out to me, and that sat to read it aloud. It took a few hours over two late afternoons. One of the required reads of Western Civilization, especially now!
Thank you for letting these inspirations rest here with your own.