About this Edition

About this Edition


This hypertext edition of Percy Bysshe Shelley's The Devil's Walk is drawn from the texts and notes of The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat, which will be published in five volumes by Johns Hopkins University Press, beginning in August 1998. We have chosen to build an online edition of The Devil's Walk both as a sample of our forthcoming work in the letterpress edition and as an experiment in electronic editing, which we hope will take on a virtual life of its own. The Devil's Walk seemed an appropriate choice for this experiment because it rarely appears in selected editions of Shelley's poetry, and is thus hard to find, and because it represents a stylistic register and a satirical purpose in Shelley's poetry that readers often overlook.

We plan to keep this edition open-ended, adding links to significant intertextual and contextual material as we develop (or discover) them--particularly to other Regency satires and the critical literature about them. We hope that teachers will find this electronic version of the poem useful as assigned or supplemental reading. Our clear reading texts of both the broadside and letter versions of The Devil's Walk are available for downloading. An SGML version of each is in preparation.

The hypertext is encoded in HTML, with some extensions for HTML 3.0, including a limited use of tables and frames. It will work best with Netscape 3.0 or a comparable browser; earlier browsers may not display everything properly. Netscape 3.0 or a comparable browser may be required for optimal use of frames.

The text

The draft of The Devil's Walk in Shelley's mid-Jan. 1812 letter to Elizabeth Hitchener (which we transcribe diplomatically) is far from a finished poem. But by Aug. 1812, Shelley had prepared for distribution a fully developed satirical poem of 30 stanzas and had it printed as a broadsheet (arranged in three columns of ten stanzas apiece) entitled The Devil's Walk, A Ballad. This poem treats several topics that are absent from his draft in the January letter--some of more recent date.

The sole textual authority for the broadside version of The Devil's Walkremains the single extant copy in the Public Record Office (H.O. 42/127, f. 426), which serves as our copy-text. The Annotations for the Broadside Version discuss all our departures from this document.

Using this hypertext

Users of this hypertext can choose among several versions of The Devil's Walk: a critically edited text of the broadside and a diplomatic transcription of the letter, to each of which a full apparatus (including variants and annotations) has been linked; clear reading texts of each, based on the critically edited and diplomatically transcribed texts; and a photofacsimile of the broadside (we hope to add soon a photofacsimile of the letter version). Also available is an extensive Introduction, which relates the textual history of the poem and provides important contextual information. The electronic text of the broadside version and the letter version of DW are fully searchable, either separately or together. The search form, which returns results that preserve hyperlinks, can be reached through the search button at the head of the table of contents.

Any of the main pages in the hypertext can be accessed through links on the Contents page. Because you may enter and exit these files along multiple paths, you may have to use the back-arrow button on your browser to return, say to the edited text of the poem after reading a linked note or variant, or to revisit a text you've just left. All pages contain a navigation anchor--"Contents"--which takes you back to the overall table of contents for the entire hypertext. More detailed explanations for navigating various parts of the hypertext appear on the relevant pages.


Some browsers (such as Netscape Communicator for the Macintosh) may have difficulty reading codes for certain characters (such as the em dash). Character codes have been entered in accordance with HTML standards. We apologize for glitches beyond our control.

Using Frames

Parts of the hypertext are available in both Frames and Non-frames formats. Use of Frames divides the browser window in order to display more than one document at a time. For example, we use the Frames feature to show side by side comparisons of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's two Versions of "The Devil's Thoughts": 1829 vs. 1835. In our hypertext edition, we present both our Broadside and Letter texts of Percy Shelley's "The Devil's Walk" in Frames and Non-frames arrays: in the Non-frames version, Text, Commentary, and Collations are discrete documents joined by hypertextual links, whereas in the Frames version, the Text dominates the browser window but is accompanied by Commentary to the right and Collations at the bottom of the page.

When using Frames, there are a few things to keep in mind. Clicking on a link in our Text will bring up the destination link in the Commentary or Collation frame of the window, rather than causing the entire window to jump to the destination as with the non-frames hypertextual link. Clicking on a link which leads out of the framed documents visible in the window will generate a new browser window while the old one remains open. You can shut down either window by clicking its Close box (in the top left hand corner). If you enter a Frames page from a Non-frames page (such as our Table of Contents) you can return to the Non-frames page without generating a new browser window by clicking the back button on your browser (you may need to click several times). Allow the Frames documents to finish loading before you begin clicking on them in order to avoid a transfer interruption which will deliver only a partial document (if this happens, just hit reload). The scroll bars for each frame will be the last thing to finish loading. Finally, you may manually readjust the relative dimensions of the frames by dragging the frame divider bars.

Please send your comments or suggestions to the editors.