The Poetic Genius of Byron - Lord George Gordon Byron

Essays on literary works - 2023

The Poetic Genius of Byron
Lord George Gordon Byron

Having settled in Italy, Byron joined the secret revolutionary organization of Italian patriots - the Carbonari. They planned to liberate their country from the Austrian yoke, but in 1821 they were defeated.

In the summer of 1823, Byron went to Greece to take part in the struggle of the Greek people against the rule of the Turks. The poet died in Greece, whose people mourned Byron as their national hero.

In "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" (the first two songs - 1812, the third - 1816, the fourth - 1818), Byron, denouncing the reaction, glorified the peoples of Spain, Italy, Greece, who fought for their liberation from the power of foreigners. He inspired those who hesitated to take up arms to fight. Childe Harold, the hero of the poem, disillusioned with secular society, resembled his creator in many ways.

In Gyaur, Corsair, Lara - the romantic heroes of the oriental poems of the same name (1813 - 1816) by Byron - it is easy to recognize, according to V. G. Belinsky, "the colossal, proud and unyielding personality" of the poet himself. These heroes broke with the hated society, became exiles, finding refuge in the bosom of luxurious exotic nature. They have violent passions. Their pride, will, desire for freedom are indomitable. They bow their heads to no one.

Such heroes captured the imagination of Byron's contemporaries, who saw them as fighters for the liberation of the human person. The author of oriental poems, in the words of A. S. Pushkin, for a long time became a recognized "ruler ... of thoughts."

In the images of romantic heroes - the sufferer Bonivar, imprisoned in the Chillon castle for republican convictions (the poem The Prisoner of Chillon, 1816), the tragically lonely Manfred (the dramatic poem Manfred, 1817), the theomachist Cain (the dramatic poem Cain, 1821) - Byron glorified the human mind and will, the courage of rebels who rebel against earthly orders or against the laws of the Universe itself.

Byron's poetry revealed the richness of his soul, full of civic feelings, deep passions, delight in the beauty of art and nature.

The unfinished verse novel Don Juan (1818-1823) was considered by Pushkin to be Byron's masterpiece, and Goethe's "an infinite work of genius." Young Don Juan is nothing like the former romantic heroes - he is the most ordinary person. His numerous adventures in different countries give Byron a reason to criticize the social and political life of Europe, so lyrical digressions sometimes completely overshadow the story of the hero's life. Byron is both a lyricist who sings of the poetic love of Juan and Gaide, expressing his own feelings and thoughts about the life and rights of people, about nature, and a satirist who ridicules huckstering, hypocrisy, hypocrisy, scourging the stranglers of freedom - the reactionary rulers of European states.

Byron wrote:

I proclaim: I will teach stones To

smash tyrants! Let him not speak

No one that I flattered the thrones! I shout to you,


The world in the shackles of slave darkness

We showed it as it was! (“Don Juan”, translated by T. Gnedich.)

The social significance of Byron’s work, according to Belinsky, is that the poet strove “not so much to depict modern humanity, but to the judgment of his past and present history.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

The revolutionary romantic poetry of Byron's friend Percy Bysshe Shelley is also fanned with the spirit of protest and freedom.

Like Byron, Shelley came from an aristocratic family. Like Byron, he was forced to leave his homeland: the revolutionary nature of his first creations frightened the English ruling classes, and they launched a campaign of persecution and slander against him.

Shelley settled in Italy. However, even away from England, he vividly and excitedly responded to the political events taking place in it.

Like Byron, with whom he often met, Shelley welcomed the national liberation struggle of the peoples of Italy, Spain, and Greece. He died by accident. A sudden storm overturned the boat in which he sailed on the lake.

essay, reflection on a given topic, or review by

Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Already in Shelley's early poems freedom-loving thoughts and feelings are expressed. As a young man he rejected religion. For the treatise "The Necessity of Atheism" (1811), he was expelled from Oxford University. Like Byron, Shelley cherished the ideas of the French Revolution. However, in political views, Shelley went further than his friend: he adopted the ideas of utopian socialism (see Vol. 8 DE, Art. "Thomas More and his Utopia" and "Charles Fourier").

Exposing injustice, the oppression of the church, the monarchy, Shelley was inspired by the ideal of the future free classless society. In the symbolic poem "The Revolt of Islam" (1818), he captured the struggle of the people of the fantastic Golden City and created revolutionary romantic images of the leaders of the uprising - the girl Tsitna and the young man Laon. Confident in their future victory over tyranny, they faced death fearlessly.

In the lyrical drama Prometheus Unbound (1819), Shelley embodied the suffering, courage, and exploits of mankind in the fate of its hero. A majestic apotheosis crowns Shelley's drama: by the release of Prometheus, the poet meant the future emancipation of mankind.

He expresses his faith in the onset of the "golden age" with these words:

Everywhere there will be a free man,

Brother will be equal to brother, all barriers have

disappeared between people. There are no more tribes , peoples,

estates - they all merged into one. (Translated by S. Marshak.)

Shelley simply and strongly wrote the song “To the People of England” (1819), expressing in it just anger against the drones - the capitalists, appropriating the fruits of labor of workers and peasants . Shelley calls on the workers to free themselves from the power of these drones by force of arms.

Byron saw the development of the French Revolution in the national liberation struggle of his time. Shelley foresaw a distant socialist future; that is why Friedrich Belinsky called him a brilliant prophet.

Walter Scott (1771 - 1832)

Walter Scott, an older contemporary of Byron and Shelley, pioneered the historical novel—the new one. genre in literature. Observing modern life and studying history, he realized that in past centuries in society there was a continuous struggle between the old, obsolete and new, progressive principles. In his novels, wherever the action took place, Walter Scott depicted turning points in history when the fate of individuals and entire nations was decided. Thus, in The Puritans (1816), a novel greatly loved by Karl Marx, the Scottish people rise up against the despotism of church and monarchy. In "Ivanhoe" (1820), where England of the 12th century is shown, there is a continuous struggle of Saxon landowners and peasants against the Norman feudal lords, who feel themselves masters of England. In Quentin Dorward (1823), set in France in the second half of the 15th century,

With great skill, Walter Scott conveys the historical and national features of different eras, countries, peoples. In "Waverley" (1814), "Rob Roy" (1818), "Edinburgh Dungeon" (1818), the writer's homeland - Scotland, its harsh and majestic nature, rises as if alive. Against the backdrop of folk scenes, the heroes of V. Scott act: the rebellious Rob-Roy takes revenge for the insults caused to him and his people; Selfless peasant girl Jenny Deans makes her way to London on foot, driven by one thought - to save her sister Effy, who has been sentenced to death for a crime she did not commit. The writer expressed his sympathy for the people in the novel "Ivanhoe" in the image of Robin Hood, named in the novel as a free shooter Loxley.

Under the magic pen of V. Scott, the past came to life, sparkled with bright colors. The writer looks at the bygone world through the eyes of a romantic, admiring it, regretting that it has sunk into oblivion, and at the same time realizing that the course of history requires the replacement of old forms of life with new ones.

In his novels, W. Scott, the Scottish sorcerer (as the writer was called by his contemporaries), ingeniously showed the connection between the destinies of individuals and the historical destinies of peoples.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

With the work of Charles Dickens and William Thackeray, realism is established in English literature. In the novels of Charles Dickens, the life of England in the 19th century is widely shown. with its conflicts and contradictions.

The realist writer dreamed that his work would help eradicate social ulcers and make people's lives happier and better. In Charles Dickens' first book, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836-1837), the young writer's laughter sounds merry and contagious.

His naive characters - Mr. Pickwick, Snodgrass, Tupman and Winkle - now and then find themselves in comic situations because of their lack of understanding of real life. The witty servant of Mr. Pickwick, Samuel Weller, enjoys the constant sympathy of readers.

Some episodes of the novel also reveal the dark sides of reality: the Pickwickists sometimes met with self-interest, they had to face the falsity of the electoral system. Mr

Pickwick knew the injustice of the English court and the horrors of English prisons. These episodes are not the main ones in Dickens' first book, but elements of satire are already felt in them, which in the future work of the writer will become his main weapon in exposing and public injustice, greed and cruelty.

Dickens experienced poverty and humiliation even in his childhood. His father, a small employee, could not provide the family with a comfortable existence. When Charles was twelve years old, his father went to debtor's prison.

The gifted boy had to quit teaching and get hired in a waxing factory. The suffering endured in childhood undoubtedly sharpened Dickens' attention to the miserable life of the young generation of England.