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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
June 2023
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Book description

In this first full-length study of Byron's masterpiece in over thirty years, Richard Cronin boldly presents Don Juan as the epic poem of its age. Impressively illuminating the whole literary nineteenth century through a single work, he asks what kind of epic can be said to represent an era more readily defined by newspapers and magazines than by competitors such as Wordsworth's Excursion or Southey's Joan of Arc arose. Delving into questions of form and choice of hero, he also explores the controversies that informed the poem's reception, its contemporary interactions, and its influence on later nineteenth-century literature. Don Juan, he argues, is the epic poem demanded by an age of cant and dissembling, when people's feelings and the world they lived in had become disconnected. In it, he finds a powerful defence of liberal thinking at a time when that kind of thinking was under threat.

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