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Mock-Epic Poetry from Pope to Heine$
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Ritchie Robertson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571581

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571581.001.0001

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Byron's Don Juan

Byron's Don Juan

(p.321) 10 Byron's Don Juan
Mock-Epic Poetry from Pope to Heine

Ritchie Robertson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Byron's great poem is shown to owe large and partly unrecognized debts to Italian romance epic and to mock epic, including that of Wieland, and also to the Italian verse‐tales of the Abbate Casti. Don Juan is also shown to criticize Homeric epic for its stress on warfare, thus joining a well‐established tradition of epic criticism, and to continue a number of themes from the ‘Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes’, taking a largely conservative stance in relation to English poetry. Byron is also shown to profess an aesthetic of intertextuality, implicit through mock epic, in opposition to the demands for originality made by his Romantic contemporaries, and to put forward a pessimistic critique of modern (especially English) civilization as based on sexual misery. His portrayal of Islamic culture, based on direct experience, is contrasted with that by Wieland in the context of the critique of Orientalism.

Keywords:   Byron, Casti, Don Juan, Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes, intertextuality, originality, Islamic culture, Orientalism

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