Masks of Anarchy

Masks of Anarchy

The History of A Radical Poem, From Percy Shelley to the Triangle Factory Fire

Book - 2013
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Masks of Anarchy tells the extraordinary story of Percy Shelley's poem "The Masque
of Anarchy," from its conception in Italy and suppression in England to the moment it became a
catalyst for protest among New York City workers a century later.

Shelley penned the poem in 1819, after hearing of the Peterloo Massacre, where British cavalry
charged peaceful political demonstrators near Manchester. His words would later inspire figures
as wide-ranging as Henry David Thoreau and Mahatma Gandhi--and also Pauline Newman, the
woman the New York Times called the "New Joan of Arc" in 1907. Newman was a Jewish immigrant who worked in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, and came to be a leading organizer--and
the first female organizer--of one of America's most powerful unions, the International Ladies'
Garment Workers' Union. As she marched with tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of New
Yorkers in the streets, Shelley's poem never ceased to inspire her.
"Shake your chains to earth like dew," it implores. "Ye are many--they are few."
Publisher: London ;, Brooklyn, NY :, Verso,, 2013
ISBN: 9781781680988
Call Number: 303.372 D3998m
Characteristics: 1 volume (unpaged) : chiefly illustrations ; 27 cm


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Mark_Daly Aug 26, 2013

The dramatic lives of Percy Shelley and the lesser-known union organizer Pauline Newman make for gripping reading, and one cannot help but be moved by the depictions of the historical events that inspired Shelly's poem "The Masque of Anarchy" and Newman's use of the poem at labor rallies nearly a century later. The actual presentation of the long poem begins grandly but ends in a rush, as if the illustrator had run out of space. The book includes a foreword and author's preface that offer some background and context. Unfortunately, they are typeset in a version of Comic Sans, an ugly all-capitals font that is nearly unreadable in large doses.


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