Title page for ETD etd-0608102-023345

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Caminita, Cristina M.
URN etd-0608102-023345
Title Explaining the Explanation: Byron's Notes to Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Devoney Looser Committee Chair
Sharon Weltman Committee Chair
Anne Coldiron Committee Member
  • byron childe harold notes
Date of Defense 2002-05-23
Availability unrestricted
In this thesis, I show that Lord Byron's notes to Childe Harold's Pilgrimage are an integral part of the poem itself, not to be read as added material, but to be read as material that comments upon and deconstructs the poem. I examine the first two cantos of the poem, reading the notes as Byron's own answers and questions to the stylistic and political ramifications of the romance verse. By scrutinizing Byron's use of the romantic hero, the romance verse, the romantic quest and the text of romance for his reading public, I show Byron's own subversion and questioning of his poem. I draw upon the works of Bakhtin and Patricia Meyers Spacks to follow Byron's poetry as well as his prose in this work. Both critics emphasize the author's reliance upon a willing reading public to interpret the poem as a work both dependent and independent of the author. Byron's notes encourage the reader to complete certain aspects of the poem he left particularly "unfinished." For example, the hero, though influenced by the stock characters of eighteenth century prose and poetry, does not have a concrete past. Readers supplied this history according to their own experience of literature and the basic tropes of what a Regency or Romantic hero should be, relying upon the presentation of such heroes by the poets and writers of the time. The notes further complicate this completion by readers because of the insistence of Byron as a character within the poem itself. Byron's fame and charismatic personality encouraged readers to conflate him with his poetic characters; his notes emphasized his voice in the creation of his poem and in the questioning of his own creation.
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