Date 1877-10-13
Publication Academy
Topic WMR reviews Forman's "Shelley"
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Subject literature
Keywords Forman
  ↳ Shelley
  ↳ WMR
Standards accurate
  ↳ authentic
  ↳ correct editing
Notes Shelley, see also WMR defends his Shelley from Forman, 1876.10.28.

Annotation details

77 October 13 Academy


Forman's Shelley collection.


Rossetti, William M. "The Poetical Works of Percy Byshhe Shelley." Academy (October 13, 1877): 284. Web. 21 Sept. 2011.


Rossetti prefaces his review with a recap of the controversy over his previously published collection of Shelley's work that had been critically opposed in The Examiner by Henry Buxton Forman, the editor of the volume Rossetti proposes to review. Rossetti rebutted that criticism in a letter to The Examiner on October 28, 1876.

Rossetti prefaces his review with two preconditions. First, Forman's "Shelley" is "an excellent one," not too expensive, handsomely "done up." Second, Rossetti proposes to "say little about himself" or anything not directly associated with Forman's work.

He then sketches the philosophical differences between his perception of the editor's task and Forman's understanding. This leads into the topic of an editor's role in correcting "palpable errors," and which to correct and to what extent-essentially the crux of Forman's critical opposition to Rossetti's "Shelley" in Forman's review in October of 1876 (see The Examiner, October 10, 1876).

The discretion of the editor extends to the full range of textual anomalies from inaccuracies and printing errors to spelling mistakes and improper word choices. Rossetti tries to demonstrate what a fine distinction there is between discrepancies based in well-known facts (e.g., Shelley was a notoriously bad speller) and possible misuse or mis-choosing of terms. Rossetti accuses Forman of overdoing the emendations and, further, for doing so inconsistently as well as excessively.

Rossetti provides detailed examples and sections of texts, comparing the original to Forman's edited versions, explaining what he feels is the loss or twisting of Shelley's meaning wrought by Forman's editing.

Rossetti describes the very favorable addition of manuscript reproductions of Shelley's work, as well as portraiture including pictures of Shelley, his birthplace, his home and his tomb, which was designed by W.B. Bell. Rossetti notes that Sir Percy Shelley accepted Forman's dedication, but Rossetti terms the graphics surrounding the dedication to be "rather tastelessly showy, and meagerly symbolic."




Forman's Shelley edition

Standards of Judgment:

Authenticity, accuracy and correct editing

Rhetoric and tone:

evaluative, polemical


Forman, Shelley, Rossetti, Scott-Bell