Byron's Ghosts: The Spectral, the Spiritual and the Supernatural

Byron's Ghosts: The Spectral, the Spiritual and the Supernatural

Byron's Ghosts: The Spectral, the Spiritual and the Supernatural

Byron's Ghosts: The Spectral, the Spiritual and the Supernatural

Excerpt

Immaterialism’s a serious matter (Byron, DJ, XVI, 114)

‘Grim reader! did you ever see a ghost?’ (XV, 95). What relevance does Don Juan’s question have for contemporary readers of Byron? What is to be gained from focusing attention on the spectral, the spiritual and the supernatural in the work of this worldly and sceptical poet? as a way of contextualizing this volume’s concerns, ahead of an outline of the individual chapters, this introduction seeks to explain why ghosts are of interest in a postmodern world and why this surprising renewal of interest is of Snfcance for Romantic studies in general, and readers of Byron in particular.

If the notion of being ‘a little bit dead’ was memorably ridiculed by Monty Python’s Parrot Sketch, it has been at least as Effectively redeemed by the writings of Jacques derrida. According to Derrida – who claimed that ‘the logic of spectrality’ is ‘inseparable from the very motif […] of deconstruction’ the ghostly has hitherto eluded the scholarly gaze, since a commitment to the categories of classical ontology pre-emptively rules out its manner of appearing. As Peter Buse and Andrew Stott explain:

the necessary distance of scholarly ‘objectivity’ […] constitutes an avoidance
of spectrality, since to figure the ghost in terms of fact or fiction, real or
not-real, is to attribute to it a foundational ground, either a positive or
negative facticity that the notion ghostliness continually eludes.

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