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Title: 'Artlessness and artifice' : Byron and the historicity of poetic form
Author: Sourgen, Gavin Oliver
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the conscious amalgamation of conflicting forms in Byron’s verse, and how these forms strain to create meaning in the processes of his poetry. Through a series of close readings and critical engagements with other Romantic poets, I endeavour to show how Byron’s poetry is often a rich site of contention between revolutionary and conservative impulses; both in its style and subject matter, and more often than not, in the complicated relationship between them. Beginning with Byron’s problematic place in the English Romantic canon, I attempt to lay a foundation for my claims that for all his mistrust of closed systems and predetermined positions there remained an urging desire to reconcile definitive artistic contour with internal form-developing process in many of his most intense poetic engagements. In his efforts at reconciling an awareness of the ever-moving provisional nature of subjectivity with a deep-rooted demand for evaluative permanence, Byron habitually employs a hybrid poetic idiom which seeks to be both timeless and time specific. In many of his most distinctive compositions, Byron holds a so-called ‘High Romantic’ lyrical mode, in which meaning is immersed in a persistent flowing rhythm, in tension with an eighteenth-century rhetorical style in which the careful placement of weighty words offsets its continuity to striking effect. By bookending my enquiry with Byron’s penetrating discursive conflicts with the naïve lyrical impulses of Wordsworth’s blank verse and what he perceived as the rhetorical appropriations of Keats’s poetry, I wish to demonstrate that Byron’s poetry enacts a curious meeting of nature and culture by a refusal to cleave them.
Supervisor: Halmi, Nicholas Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; Byron ; poetics ; romanticism