History of European Ideas 45 (8):1125-1142 (2019)

ABSTRACT Mary Shelley (1797–1851) developed a ‘Romantic Spinozism’ from 1817 to 1848. This was a deterministic worldview that adopted an ethical attitude of love toward the world as it is, must be, and will be. Resisting the psychological despair and political inertia of fatalism, her ‘Romantic Spinozism’ affirmed the forward-looking responsibility of people to love their neighbors and sustain the world, including future generations, even in the face of seeming apocalypse. This history of Shelley’s reception of Spinoza begins with the fragment of the otherwise lost translation of the Theologico-Political Treatise (1670) on which she collaborated. It extends through her journals, letters, poetry, and her second great work of speculative fiction after Frankenstein (1818): a post-apocalyptic novel set in the year 2100, The Last Man (1826). Through a creative synthesis of Spinoza with Plato, Cicero, Wollstonecraft, and Glasite Christianity, Shelley developed an anti- apocalyptic conception of love as apocatastasis: a cyclical restoration of an ethical attitude of stewardship toward the whole world and its necessity. Through this recovery of a vital chapter in the history of European ideas, Shelley emerges as a central figure in Spinozan philosophy, especially the ethics and political philosophy of love.
Keywords Mary Shelley  Spinoza  Love  Apocalypse  Apocatastasis
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/01916599.2019.1664802
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 52,768
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Spinoza.Gilles Deleuze - 1970 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 32 (1):122-123.
Pythagoreanism.Carl Huffman - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Spinoza's Concept of Mind.Thomas Carson Mark - 1979 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 17 (4):401-416.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Mary Shelley Reader.Mary W. Shelley - 1990 - Oxford University Press USA.
Hume and Mary Shelley.D. Wormersley - 1986 - Notes and Queries 33:164-5.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Guillotine, and Modern Ontological Anxiety.Kristen Lacefield - 2016 - Text Matters - a Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture 6 (1):35-52.


Added to PP index

Total views
62 ( #151,875 of 2,340,492 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
15 ( #41,876 of 2,340,492 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes