Rambles in Germany and Italy  

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Rambles in Germany and Italy, in 1840, 1842, and 1843 is a travel narrative by the British Romantic author Mary Shelley. Issued in 1844, it is her last published work. Published in two volumes, the text describes two European trips that Mary Shelley took with her son, Percy Florence Shelley, and several of his university friends. Mary Shelley had lived in Italy with her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, between 1818 and 1823. For her, Italy was associated with both joy and grief: she had written much while there but she had also lost her husband and two of her children. Thus, although she was anxious to return, the trip was tinged with sorrow. Shelley describes her journey as a pilgrimage, which will help cure her depression.

At the end of the second trip, Mary Shelley spent time in Paris and associated herself with the "Young Italy" movement, Italian exiles who were in favour of Italian independence and unification. One revolutionary in particular attracted her: Ferdinando Gatteschi. To assist him financially, Shelley decided to publish Rambles. However, Gatteschi became discontented with Shelley's assistance and tried to blackmail her. She was forced to obtain her personal letters from Gatteschi through the intervention of the French police.

Shelley differentiates her travel book from others by presenting her material from what she describes as "a political point of view". In so doing, she challenges the early nineteenth-century convention that it was improper for women to write about politics, following in the tradition of her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Lady Morgan. Shelley's aim was to arouse sympathy in England for Italian revolutionaries, such as Gatteschi. She rails against the imperial rule of Austria and France over Italy and criticises the domination of the Catholic Church. She describes the Italians as having an untapped potential for greatness and a desire for freedom.

Though Shelley herself thought the work "poor", it found favour with reviewers who praised its independence of thought, wit, and feeling. Shelley's political commentary on Italy was specifically singled out for praise, particularly since it was written by a woman. For most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Shelley was usually known only as the author of Frankenstein and the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Rambles was not reprinted until the rise of feminist literary criticism in the 1970s provoked a wider interest in Shelley's entire corpus.

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