restricted access Radical Love and the Political Romance: Shelley After the Jacobin Novel

Percy Shelley’s The Revolt of Islam engages the literary tradition of English Jacobinism. Read alongside Thomas Holcroft’s novel, Anna St. Ives (1792), it becomes available to a theory of Romantic liberalism that departs suggestively from classical liberal theory. Both texts claim that private intimacy generates public forms of impact, organizing politics around a fantasy of collective belonging. That fantasy is tested by a philosophical deployment of free love as a limit case for freedom. Where Holcroft cultivates a close relationship between sex and self-sovereignty, Shelley abandons the Jacobin commitment to formalism internal to the juridical imagination of political as well as erotic life.