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The Poetry of TranslationFrom Chaucer & Petrarch to Homer & Logue$
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Matthew Reynolds

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199605712

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605712.001.0001

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Byron's Adulterous Fidelity

Byron's Adulterous Fidelity

Chapter:
(p.159) 18 Byron's Adulterous Fidelity
Source:
The Poetry of Translation
Author(s):

Matthew Reynolds

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605712.003.0018

This capacity of translation to stage conventionality lay dormant until Byron, who was much indebted to Italian romances and their English translations. In Book 1 of Don Juan, he replays great phrases about love (many from Dante's episode of Paolo and Francesca) in such a way as to make them seem both guarantees of authenticity and tell‐tale marks of secondhandness: the same sensibility is evident in his correspondence with his Italian lover Teresa Guiccioli which is again laced with recollections of Dante. In his translation of Francesca's speech from Inferno, Byron allows himself to be overcome by the text in a way that is unfaithful to Dante but (as he sees it) faithful to Francesca. This is an instance of translation‐as‐passion—which differs from translation‐as‐desire in that it takes the source text as the origin of an impulse rather than as an object to be pursued.

Keywords:   Byron, Don Juan, Dante, Inferno, Francesca, Guiccioli, passion

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