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Chapter 8 - This Is a Liberal Age

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 June 2023

Richard Cronin
Affiliation:
University of Glasgow
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Summary

In Chapter 8, I ask why Byron should have insisted that his was ‘a liberal age’ at a time when in Britain and all over Europe liberalism seemed to be, if not defeated, then at least everywhere in retreat. It points out that the word ‘liberal’ had various meanings in the period, meanings that might, as one contemporary commentator put it, be ‘the very reverse of each other.’ Byron’s liberalism, I argue, is characteristically self-contradictory, for which reason Hazlitt dismisses it as ‘preposterous.’ But Byron was a liberal, perhaps, because liberal was the only available description of his views flexible enough to accommodate their variousness. The chapter argues that the language of liberalism in the nineteenth century was powerful precisely because it was fragmented, and that Byron deploys that language more searchingly than any of the Victorian novelists who are his true heirs.

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Chapter
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Byron's Don Juan
The Liberal Epic of the Nineteenth Century
, pp. 186 - 209
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • This Is a Liberal Age
  • Richard Cronin, University of Glasgow
  • Book: Byron's <i>Don Juan</i>
  • Online publication: 15 June 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009366229.009
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  • This Is a Liberal Age
  • Richard Cronin, University of Glasgow
  • Book: Byron's <i>Don Juan</i>
  • Online publication: 15 June 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009366229.009
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • This Is a Liberal Age
  • Richard Cronin, University of Glasgow
  • Book: Byron's <i>Don Juan</i>
  • Online publication: 15 June 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009366229.009
Available formats
×