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Shelley’s GoddessMaternity, Language, Subjectivity$
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Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780195073843

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195073843.001.0001

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Infancy Narratives

Infancy Narratives

(p.3) 1 Infancy Narratives
Shelley’s Goddess

Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi

Oxford University Press

The opening chapter introduces the linkage between Shelley’s ideas on maternity and breastfeeding in his youth and his eventual views on the nature of human experience. The chapter asserts that our current ideas on infancy—borne out of the same historical milieu of Shelley’s time—have engendered “faith narratives” that mold our present experiences and Shelley’s as well. These narratives include the Lacanians’ analysis of language acquisition in infants, Daniel Stern’s account of infant development and its stages, Eagleton’s philosophical treatise on the “aesthetic” as the source of one’s self identity, and historical accounts of changes in family structures which stressed maternal breastfeeding in Shelley’s time. The chapter posits that the insights gleaned from these four narratives taken collectively reveal a “mother-centeredness” in Shelley and his works. This reconstruction of Shelley’s experiences attempts to search for his “Promethean” language that links existence, perception, and expression.

Keywords:   Shelley, breastfeeding, Lacanians, Daniel Stern, Eagleton, narratives, mother-centeredness, Promethean language

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