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Rethinking British Romantic History, 1770–1845$
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Porscha Fermanis and John Regan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687084

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687084.001.0001

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Byron, Clare, and Poetic Historiography

Byron, Clare, and Poetic Historiography

(p.223) 10 Byron, Clare, and Poetic Historiography
Rethinking British Romantic History, 1770–1845

Paul Hamilton

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the way in which two very different Romantic writers (Byron and Clare) aestheticize history, arguing that, taken together, they tell history in ways that demonstrate the importance of poetry as a form of historiography. Focusing on Lara (1814) and The Corsair (1814), the chapter argues that Byron is able to manipulate the subtleties of aesthetic variance in his poems either in order to explain a shift in the way history is understood or to interrogate the historical viewpoint from which it was natural to use that expression. If the ultimate weapon available to those trying to historicize otherwise inescapable social and political conditions was to dissolve their own artistic identity into its medium, the chapter argues that this kind of aesthetic versatility was not historically possible for Clare, who is subject to history in a different, inescapable manner.

Keywords:   Byron, Lara, The Corsair, Clare, history, aesthetics, aesthetics of history, historiography, class consciousness

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