October 15, 2012

Percy Shelley, by Casanave and Vandermeulen

Under a cover evoking William Powell Firth’s painting of their courtship at the Old Saint Pancras churchyard, here is the first of a two-volume French-language biography in graphic novel form of the Shelleys, Percy and Mary.

Book One, Percy Shelley, cuts to the chase, opening with Percy’s expulsion from Oxford in 1811 upon publication of his blasphemous pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism.

Disinherited by his well-to-do father, Percy elopes with and marries Harriet Westbrook, embarking on a perilous life of perpetual flight, always racing to stay ahead of creditors.

When he grows unhappy with his marriage, Percy abandons his pregnant wife and elopes anew, this time with young Mary, daughter of Percy’s mentor, philosopher William Godwin. Percy and Mary had courted, meeting in secret at the grave of Mary’s mother, the famous and mutually admired Mary Wollstonecraft.

The book ends with Percy, Mary and Mary’s half-sister, Claire Clairmont, leaving the Godwin house hand in hand. “Come,” Percy says, “let us live our lives as if it were a novel!”

Writer David Vandermeulen crafts an honest portrait of Percy Shelley as a reckless idealist, arrogant and infinitely charming, strong in his opinions but frail in health. Vandermeulen’s works include a graphic novel biography of Fritz Haber, the father of chemical warfare.

Percy Shelley is beautifully rendered by Daniel Casanave’s nervous pen, with colors by Patrice Larcenet. Casanave has often mixed classic literature with the comics medium, illustrating stories by Apollinaire, Shakespeare and Kafka, Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, and biographies of Baudelaire and Verlaine.

Percy Shelley, 76 pages, was published by Le Lombard of Brussels, February 2012. The followup book, Mary Shelley, was published in May. I’ll report on that one at a later date.

Read an 8-page sample of Percy Shelley (in French), and here are 11 pages from Mary Shelley

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this, truly wonderful!

How can we order?