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Chapter 4 - The Gate of Life and Death

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 June 2023

Richard Cronin
Affiliation:
University of Glasgow
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Summary

In Chapter 4, I turn to the difference that concerns Byron most often in the poem, the difference between men and women, and it turns too to another difference that makes the relationship between men and women so fraught, the difference between what people say and what they are. ‘Philo-genitiveness’ is, Byron remarks, ‘a word quite after [his] own heart,’ but there is another word, ‘a shorter a good deal than this,’ coupled with it by alliteration, that everyone knows but that cannot be published in a poem. A still more scabrous pair of words, ‘cant’ and a word that differs from it only in a single vowel, is still more central to a poem in which Byron explores the space that has opened up between the words that can be printed and the words that can only be thought, a space that defines for him the discrepancy between what people say and what they think.

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Chapter
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Byron's Don Juan
The Liberal Epic of the Nineteenth Century
, pp. 85 - 108
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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