Percy Bysshe SHELLEY - Zastrozzi, A Romance

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“Would Julia of Strobazzo’s heart was reeking on my dagger!” From the asthmatic urgency of its opening abduction scene to the Satanic defiance of the villain’s departure “with a wild convulsive laugh of exulting revenge”, this first of Shelley’s Gothic novelettes recycles much sensational boyhood reading and also points to some of his more mature concerns. It is the ego-driven pursuit of passionate extremes, revenge included, which consigns figures like Zastrozzi and the murderous Matilda to an isolation which is socially destructive as well as self-annihilating. The story of their downfall is related in a relentlessly hysterical style – possibly more easily enjoyed when read aloud! (Summary by Martin Geeson)