The Ghost of Shelley

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The Ghost of Shelley

Postby CasaMagni » Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:27 pm

From the Keats-Shelley Journal, Volume 2 (1953) -

We conclude our News Notes with a report published in an Italian newspaper under the heading: Il fantasma di Shelley é ritomate nella notte alla casa di San Terenzio. The following excerpts from a translation of this article are, to say the least, astonishingly informative.

With the sub-head, “The inhabitants of the villa where the poet lived before his fatal adventure, swear that they have seen his tormented shade," the article begins:


“LA SPEZIA, 19 [May 1952]

“A truly whimsical and impressive report is circulating insistently around La Spezia: at San Terenzio the ghost of the English poet Shelley has been seen again. We say ‘again’ because, apparently, the ghost of Shelley has already appeared many times at San Terenzio.

“Fishermen and sailors of this small picturesque village in the gulf of La Spezia affirm that often, during stormy nights, they have seen a white phantom swaying in front of the poet’s house.”

“The villa Magni at the present time is rented by an Engineer, Mr. Popoff (let not the Russian name be misleading), English Vice-Consul at La Spezia. He lives there with his parents-in-law, Ida and Antonio Ratti, very nice quiet people with no trace of morbid imagination. A few days ago Mr. Ratti, during a night of strong sirocco wind, woke up suddenly and saw that a long white evanescent form was slowly entering the door. This phantom took definite shape as a tall, human being (it is known that Shelley was slender and very tall) and approached the bed and leaned on it.

“Mr. Ratti yelled and the white form, still very slowly, straightened itself up and went out of the door. Mr. Ratti turned on the light and ran into the adjoining room where he aroused his wife, Signora Ida, who at that time revealed to him that a year before, on a night when the sirocco wind was blowing, she too had had a visit of the same phantasm, which had awakened her. Mr. and Mrs. Popoff, who sleep in adjacent rooms, declare that they have never noticed anything abnormal.

“It is difficult to judge the objective trustworthiness of this tale. For the sailors of San Terenzio there are no doubts: the ghost of Shelley has come back."


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Re: The Ghost of Shelley

Postby Ravenwing » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:38 pm

Speaking of which, look at what I found!

Shelley's Ghost website: http://shelleysghost.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

If his ghost doth walketh th'Earth, then its having been observed has provided the greatest refutation of his "The Necessity of Atheism".

On having read its English pages (https://archive.org/details/selectedprosewor00shelrich), methinks it ought to be mentioned that every poet whose poems have been inspired by Keats doth knoweth from personal experience that his spirit does continue to exist, and that the same can rightfully so be said for those whose poems have been inspired by the spirit of Shelley.

Question to the floor: What do you suppose that Shelley himself might say in reply to th'argument that the Bible itself, in being an inspired text, is proof that God doth exist, as much as Keats' inspired poems are proof to their readers that Keats himself did exist, and that his spirit does continue to exist?

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Re: The Ghost of Shelley

Postby Saturn » Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:37 pm

I think Shelley, being an atheist would totally deny that the bible is an 'inspired' text for a start.

The existence of Keats is not in question.
His life is extremely well documented, portraits done in life, writings in his own hand, his personal belongings, and even his physical remains lie buried in Rome and could be scientifically proven if ever proof were needed.

This is a completely false equivalency.

His 'Spirit' is an intangible, an incorporeal metaphor for the residual influence a writer might have on future readers.

That's what he would say.
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Re: The Ghost of Shelley

Postby Ravenwing » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:34 am

Saturn wrote:I think Shelley, being an atheist would totally deny that the bible is an 'inspired' text for a start.

The existence of Keats is not in question.
His life is extremely well documented, portraits done in life, writings in his own hand, his personal belongings, and even his physical remains lie buried in Rome and could be scientifically proven if ever proof were needed.

This is a completely false equivalency.

His 'Spirit' is an intangible, an incorporeal metaphor for the residual influence a writer might have on future readers.

That's what he would say.


It is not a false equivalency. There are many locations in Israel which provide evidence that the stories told in the Bible did happen. The Cave of the Patriarchs, where Adam and Eve, as well as Abraham and Sarah, are buried, is in Hebron. The remains of the First and Second Jewish Holy Temples are in Jerusalem. The Torah, also known as the five books of Moses, documented in great detail the life of Moses as well as many other biblical figures, and the New Testament documented in great detail the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Have you never studied biblical archaeology?

As for Shelley's opinion regarding the existence of God, his "Essay on Christianity" begins:

Essay on Christianity (1817) by Percy Bysshe Shelley

"The Being who has influenced in the most memorable manner the opinions and the fortunes of the human species, is Jesus Christ. At this day, his name is connected with the devotional feelings of two hundred millions of the race of man. The institutions of the most civilised portion of the globe derive their authority from the sanction of his doctrines; he is the hero, the God, of our popular religion. His extraordinary genius, the wide and rapid effect of his unexampled doctrines, his invincible gentleness and benignity, the devoted love borne to him by his adherents, suggested a persuasion to them that he was something divine."


In that paragraph, he literally identified himself as being a Christian.

What evidence is there that Shelley actually was an atheist? Is his supposed atheism solely based on his "The Necessity of Atheism" pamphlet which he wrote in 1811? If so, then I cannot agree that he was an atheist, as perhaps it was his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg who was an atheist. Perhaps he had complained to Shelley of his having been treated unfairly by the faculty at Oxford for his not being able to perceive the existence of God, and that in response, Shelley wrote "The Necessity of Atheism" in defence of him and all atheists.

If so, then methinks that Shelley's understanding of atheism is that it is like colourblindness—that the same way in which nothing that anybody can say or do will ever be able to prove the existence of colour to those whom are colourblind, that atheism is a spiritual blindness, and that is why nothing which anybody can say or do will ever be able to prove the existence of God to those whom are spiritually blind. If that is what Shelley meant in his "The Necessity of Atheism", then he was perhaps the first to have put forth the idea that it is therefore useless to try and convert atheists to Christianity or any other religion, and thus that it is not their fault they are not able to perceive the existence of God.

Simply because a person whom is colourblind cannot perceive colour, that does not mean colour does not actually exist. We generally do not become angry at any person whom is colourblind for their not being able to perceive colour. Nobody tries to convert them to being able to perceive colour. Nobody says it is their fault that they cannot perceive colour. Their colourblindness is understood to be a form of disability which does not make them any less of a human being than anybody else, including those whom are not colourblind.

That is my understanding of Shelley's "The Necessity of Atheism". What be yours?

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