The subject of Gelpi's new book is the importance of the mother-infant relationship in Percy Bysshe Shelly's poetry and life.
However, her book also uses Shelley as a touchstone by which to examine the rich historical and theoretical issues relevant to motherhood in the Romantic period.
Gelpi offers a detailed account of the historical rise in attention paid to mothering, the changing cultural attitudes towards the role of the mother, and the resulting effect on thenature of family life.
She further discusses the psychoanalytic, Marxist, and developmental approaches to the mother/infant relationship, particularly to the connection each makes between that relationship and the acquisition of language.
By combining psychoanalytic, poststructuralist and feministtheory with extensive biographical material on Shelley and information on the position of mothers in England after 1790, Gelpi offers an important reassessment of Shelley's avowed feminism and the failure of his utopian vision.