Shelley’s editing process in the preface to Epipsychidion
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofThe Keats-Shelley Review ; vol. 11, no 1
Prefaces are often disregarded by readers who, more often than not, start without taking time to peruse them first. Sir Walter Scott knew this perfectly well, and he wrote about it, very wittily, in "A PostScript Which Should Have Been a Preface", the last chapter of his novel Waverley written in 1814: "most novel readers, as my own conscience reminds me, are apt to be guilty of the sin of omission respecting the same matter of prefaces". Scott refers to novel readers but poetry readers are also "guilty of the sin of omission", maybe even more so in so far as they may wish, understandably enough, to read only poetry and not a prose introduction. Many critics include prefaces in their analysis, but most of the time only as a means of interpreting the work they precede. Thus critics limit the role of prefaces simply to introductory materials and exclude any other potential interpretation. It is sometimes forgotten that the very presence or absence of a preface is already pregnant with meaning. [...]
Sinatra, Michael E., « Shelley’s editing process in the preface to Epipsychidion », The Keats-Shelley Review, vol. 11, no 1, 1997, p. 167‑181.