Byron and Italy

Editors: Alan Rawes and Diego Saglia

Byron’s connection with Italy is one of the most familiar facts about British Romanticism. A considerable portion of his legend is linked to his many pronouncements about the country (where he lived between 1816 and 1823), its history, culture and people, as well as about his own experiences in Italy and among Italians. Offering new insights into Byron’s relation to Italy, this volume is concerned with the real, historical ‘Anglo-Italian’ Byron, and his ‘almost Italianness’ as a poet. Its essays bring together different critical perspectives to take the pulse of current debates and open up new lines of enquiry into this crucial theme in Byron Studies and Romantic-era Studies more widely. In doing so, they explore how Byron’s being in Italy affected his sense of his own individual identity and of the labile nature of the self. It affected his politics – both in theory and in practice – and, of course, his whole development as a writer of lyrics, dramas, narratives, satires and letters. Moreover, the essays show how Italy affected, changed and informed Byron’s thinking about matters far beyond Italy itself. As the book shows, the poet’s relation to the country and its culture was complicated by a pervasive dialectic between familiarity and distance, and thus neither stable nor consistent. For this reason, among many others, the topic of ‘Byron and Italy’ remains an endless source of intellectual, literary, historical and existential fascination.

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