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Chapter 5 - Allusions Private and Inglorious

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 June 2023

Richard Cronin
Affiliation:
University of Glasgow
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Summary

The difference between what should and what should not be published is the subject too of Chapter 5. Don Juan is thickly seeded with references to Byron’s own domestic circumstances. Many of his readers, his friendliest, most sympathetic readers amongst them, believed that those private allusions ought to have rendered his poem unpublishable. Don Juan is a poem in which Byron addressed the state of Europe and the state of Britain, and it is also, as I point out in this chapter, a poem written by a man who had been abandoned by his wife, and responded to the hurt done to him by writing a poem that all through its sixteen cantos holds that wife up to public ridicule. The Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost, Byron impertinently suggests, had in common that they were written by poets ‘hapless in their nuptials.’ The epic poem of the nineteenth century, I argue, could only be written by a poet similarly circumstanced.

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Byron's Don Juan
The Liberal Epic of the Nineteenth Century
, pp. 109 - 135
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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