Poems in Their Place: The Intertextuality and Order of Poetic Collections

By Neil Fraistat | Go to book overview

Jerome J. McGann


The Book of Byron and the Book of a World

Byron wrote about himself, we all know, just as we all know that his books, like God's human creatures, are all made in his image and likeness. This quality of his work is apparent from the very beginning. His first book, Fugitive Pieces, was privately printed in 1806 for an audience of friends and acquaintances who were privy to its local references and biographical connectionsmany of which were connections with themselves. Hours of Idleness, his first published work, appeared the following year, and it sought to extend the range of Byron's intimacies to a somewhat larger book purchasing audience. In Hours of Idleness Byron projected himself before his English audience as a recognizable figure whom, he trusted, they would be happy to take to their breasts. In Hours of Idleness the English world at large met, for the first time, not the Man but the Lord of Feeling, a carefully constructed self-image that was fashioned to launch him on his public career. This was not conceived, at the time, as a literary career.' 1

Byron succeeded in his effort, though not precisely as he had expected. Certain hostile reviews--most notoriously, Brougham's in the highly visible and influential Edinburgh Review--interrupted Byron's initial, unruffled expectations. Had he reflected more critically on the hostile reception that Fugitive Pieces had provoked in certain narrow quarters of its local (Southwell) society, he might have anticipated some trouble for his next book. 2 But he did not, apparently, and seems only to have realized later that he was destined to be both the darling and the demon of his age.

The attack on Hours of Idleness was another opportunity for Byron to produce yet a third Book of Himself: this time, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, the fiery counter-attack on his persecutors and the culture that supported such beings. 3 If it is true that Byron was "born for opposition," this book revealed that fact, for the first time unmistakably.

And so it went on. In 1809 Byron left benighted England to chew over the high rhetoric of his last book, and he plunged into Europe and the Levant, where his next productions began to accumulate their materials in the much larger context of European affairs. He wrote a continuation, or

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Poems in Their Place: The Intertextuality and Order of Poetic Collections
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction the Place of the Book and the Book as Place 3
  • Notes 14
  • Some Issues for Study of Integrated Collections 18
  • Notes 40
  • The Theory and Practice of Poetic Arrangement from Vergil to Ovid 44
  • Notes 63
  • Sequences, Systems, Models Sidney and the Secularization of Sonnets 66
  • Notes 91
  • Jonson, Marvell, and Miscellaneity? 95
  • Notes 115
  • The Arrangement and Order of John Donne's Poems 119
  • Appendix A: Epigrams 150
  • Appendix B: Love Elegies 150
  • Appendix C: Epicedes and Obsequies 153
  • Appendix D: Divine Poems 154
  • Appendix E: Verse Letters 155
  • "Strange Text!" "Paradise Regain'D . . . to Which is Added Samson Agonistes" 164
  • Notes 191
  • "Images Reflect from Art to Art" Alexander Pope's Collected Works of 1717 195
  • Notes 231
  • Multum in Pairvo Wordsworth's Poems, in Two Volumes of 1807 234
  • Notes 251
  • The Book of Byron and the Book of a World 254
  • Notes 271
  • The Arrangement of Browning's Dramatic Lyrics (1842) 273
  • Notes 286
  • Whitman's Leaves and the American "Lyric-Epic" 289
  • Notes 306
  • Marjorie Perloff the Two Ariels the (re)making of the Sylvia Plath Canon 308
  • Notes 331
  • Index 335
  • Notes on the Contributors 343
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