Byron, Poetics and History

By Bainbridge, Simon | The Byron Journal, June 2004 | Go to article overview

Byron, Poetics and History


Bainbridge, Simon, The Byron Journal


BYRON, POETICS AND HISTORY. By Jane Stabler. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Pp. xiv + 251. ISBN 0-521-81241-0. £40.00.

As Jane Stabler argues in her introduction to this excellent study of Byron's satires, the last few years have seen a renewed interest in the aesthetic and formal properties of Romantic poetry. Rather than signalling a return to New Criticism, however, this revitalized concern with formal matters has productively engaged with the issues of historical context and gender that have dominated much of the critical and theoretical work of the last two decades. As its title suggests, Byron, Poetics and History seeks to examine the relationship between Byron's use of form and the contextual issues that shape, and are shaped by its aesthetic properties. In this endeavour the book succeeds brilliantly, offering fascinating close readings that emphasize the richness, complexity and self-reflective sparkle of Byron's poetry while also drawing attention to the various texts (Shakespearean drama, Galignani's Messenger) and contexts (the divisions in the Whig party, Byron's anxiety about his changing readership) that inform the writing, and potentially the reading, of his works.

The particular characteristic of Byron's writing that Stabler examines as a focus for her consideration of the relations between poetry and history is digression, and the book could just as appropriately have been titled Byron and the Art of Digression. For Stabler, Byron's digressiveness is not simply a matter of narrative roving from topic to topic, like Childe Harold's wandering from scene to scene, but a more general quality of his writing enacted in jarring juxtapositions, rapid transitions and signalled allusions to other writers. The turns, breaks, and asides of Byron's discontinuous verse create a poetics of indeterminacy that has unsettled the poet's readers since the start of his career, as Stabler shows convincingly through analysis of contemporary responses to Childe Harold's Pilgrimage I and II and a comparison of Byron with writers who might seem to offer some precedent for his practice, including Churchill, Prior and Pope.

As Stabler argues, Byron's digressive manner also challenged the contemporary reader to participate in the construction of a poem's meaning, a process about which Byron was highly conscious and increasingly anxious as his career developed. Stabler's attention to reading is one of the great strengths of her book, both in the subtle and delicate scrutiny of the poems that she produces and in her investigation into Byron's sense of his own readership and its effect on his writing. Stabler's argument emphasizes what she terms the 'now' of the text and reminds us that much of the pleasure and excitement of reading Byron is derived from the opportunities taken or missed: 'the reader generates meaning from a verbal texture in which many strands are woven. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Byron, Poetics and History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.