194 Pages
English

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The Poet-Hero in the Work of Byron and Shelley

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A study of the evolution of the poet-hero in the work of Byron and Shelley.


Byron’s and Shelley’s experimentation with the possibilities and pitfalls of poetic heroism unites their work. ‘The Poet-Hero in the Work of Byron and Shelley’ traces the evolution of the poet-hero in the work of both poets, revealing that the struggle to find words adequate to the poet’s imaginative vision and historical circumstance is their central poetic preoccupation. This area has never received monograph-length treatment. It has only been hinted at in scholarly work, with recent publications choosing to focus on genre, or instead, emphasize the collective, anti-individualist context of Romantic writing. But such attention to the collaborative realities of Romantic poetic production has overshadowed the poetry’s own claims for its status as made by a unique individual and, most significantly, by an individual distinguished by his power over language. This study performs a close analysis of two major poets who have never been linked together in this context.


‘The Poet-Hero in the Work of Byron and Shelley’ uncovers Byron’s and Shelley’s shift from presenting the hero as a supernaturally gifted individual to a poet-hero, whose language becomes the key locus and site of anxiety of his authority, viewing this as the vital innovation of their work. More than wanting a hero, Byron’s and Shelley’s attempts to create and critique a version of the poet-hero distinguishes their poetry. Though they share a preoccupation with the poet-hero, this volume dwells on the distinctive differences between the poets, dividing the study into two parts so as to spotlight their separate though corresponding artistic concerns and achievements. For Byron, poetic heroism is both an aspiration and an apprehension, where the poet longs to be the answer to the agonised question of ‘The Giaour’, ‘When shall such Hero live again?’ even as he fears and ironizes its potentially illusory quality. Shelley requires the poet-hero to turn prophet and legislator, and the demand to balance both roles tips the poet-hero into defeat after defeat rather than guaranteeing his success. The tensions and desires inherent in their different though complementary versions of the poet-hero gain prominence in their powerfully ambiguous poetry and drama.


‘The Poet-Hero in the Work of Byron and Shelley’ explores the different types of poetic heroism that evolve in Byron’s and Shelley’s poetry and drama. Both poets experiment with, challenge and embrace a variety of poetic forms and genres, and this book discusses such generic exploration in the light of their changing versions of the poet-hero. The heroism of the poet, as an idea, an ideal and an illusion, undergoes many different incarnations and definitions as each poet shapes distinctive and changing conceptions of the hero throughout their careers.


Acknowledgements; Note on Texts and Abbreviations; Introduction: The Poet- Hero: ‘Who shall trace the void?’; Part I Byron; Chapter One ‘A tyrant- spell’: The Byronic (Poet- )Hero in Manfred , Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and Beppo; Chapter Two ‘Degraded to a Doge’: Inappropriate Poetic Heroism in Marino Faliero; Chapter Three ‘Thoughts unspeakable’: Poetic Heroism under Pressure in Cain and The Deformed Transformed; Chapter Four Poetic Heroism and Authority: Don Juan and ‘Epistle to Augusta’; Interchapter: Chapter Five ‘As we wish our souls to be’: Julian and Maddalo and The Island; Part II Shelley; Chapter Six ‘The Highest Idealism of Passion and of Power’: Shelley’s Heroic Poetics in A Defence of Poetry, The Mask of Anarchy and Prometheus Unbound; Chapter Seven ‘Holy and Heroic Verse’: The Revolutionary Poet- Heroes of Laon and Cythna; Chapter Eight ‘This soul out of my soul’: The Trial of the Poet- Hero in Shelley’s Epipsychidion; Chapter Nine ‘His mute voice’: The Two Heroes of Adonais; Conclusion; The Byronic and the Shelleyan Poet- Hero; Bibliography; Index.

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Published 28 February 2019
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EAN13 9781783088997
Language English

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