The Romantic Works of Byron - Lord George Gordon Byron

Essays on literary works - 2023

The Romantic Works of Byron
Lord George Gordon Byron

The epithet "romantic" in the 17th century served to characterize adventurous and heroic plots and works written in Romance languages (as opposed to those created in classical languages). In the 18th century, this word denoted the literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. At the end of the 18th century in Germany, then in other European countries, including Russia, the word romanticism became the name of an artistic movement that opposed classicism. The ideological prerequisites for romanticism are disappointment in the Great French Revolution in bourgeois civilization in general (in its vulgarity, lack of spirituality). The mood of hopelessness, despair, "world sorrow" is the disease of the century, inherent in the heroes of Chateaubriand, Byron, Musset.

At the same time, they are characterized by a sense of hidden wealth and boundless possibilities of being. Hence Byron, Shelley, the Decembrist poets and Pushkin have an enthusiasm based on the belief in the omnipotence of the free human spirit, a passionate thirst for the renewal of the world. Romantics dreamed not of private improvements in life, but of a holistic resolution of all its contradictions. Many of them are dominated by the mood of struggle and protest against the evil reigning in the world (Byron, Pushkin, Petofi, Lermontov, Mickiewicz).

Representatives of contemplative romanticism often tended to think about the dominance of incomprehensible and mysterious forces in life (rock, fate), about the need to submit to fate (Chateaubriand, Coleridge, Southey, Zhukovsky).

Romantics are characterized by a desire for everything unusual - for fantasy, folk legends, for "past centuries" and exotic nature. They create a special world of imaginary circumstances and exceptional passions. Especially, in contrast to classicism, much attention is paid to the spiritual wealth of the individual. Romanticism revealed the complexity and depth of the spiritual world of man, his unique originality (“man is a small universe”). The attention of the romantics to the peculiarities of the national spirit and culture of different peoples, to the originality of various historical eras, was fruitful. Hence - the requirement of historicism and nationality of art (F. Cooper, W. Scott, Hugo).

Romanticism was marked by the renewal of artistic forms: the creation of the genre of historical novel, fantasy story, lyric-epic poem. Lyricism has reached an unusual flowering. The possibilities of the poetic word have been significantly expanded due to its ambiguity.

The highest achievement of Russian romanticism is the poetry of Zhukovsky, Pushkin, Baratynsky, Lermontov, Tyutchev Romanticism originally arose in Germany, a little later in England; it has become widespread in all European countries. The names were known to the whole world: Byron, Walter Scott, Heine, Hugo, Cooper, Anderson. Romanticism arose at the end of the 18th century and lasted until the 19th century. It was a time of gigantic social upheavals, when the feudal-medieval world was collapsing and the capitalist system arose and asserted itself on its ruins; time of bourgeois revolutions. The emergence of romanticism is associated with an acute dissatisfaction with social reality; disappointment in the environment and impulses for a different life. To a vague but powerfully attractive ideal.

This means that a characteristic feature of romanticism is dissatisfaction with reality, complete disappointment in it, disbelief that life can be built on the principles of goodness, reason, and justice. Hence the sharp contradiction between the ideal and reality (the striving for a lofty ideal). Russian romanticism arises under different conditions. It was formed in an era when the country was yet to enter a period of bourgeois transformations. It reflected the disappointment of the advanced Russian people in the existing autocratic-feudal order, the vagueness of their ideas about the paths of the country's historical development. Romantic ideas in Russia are, as it were, softened. At first, romanticism was closely associated with classicism and sentimentalism. The founders of Russian romanticism are considered to be Zhukovsky and Batyushkoy.

The main theme of romanticism is the theme of romanticism. Romanticism is an artistic method that developed in the early 19th century. Romanticism is characterized by a special interest in the surrounding reality, as well as the opposition of the real world to the ideal. Byron, as a bright representative of romanticism, created in fact an encyclopedia of romanticism - this is Childe Harold. All the most important motifs of romantic literature are displayed in this poem by Byron.The romantic hero is a complex, passionate person, whose inner world is unusually deep, endless; it is a whole universe full of contradictions. Romantics were interested in all passions, both high and low, which were opposed to each other. High passion - love in all its manifestations, low - greed, ambition, envy. The lowly material practice of romance was opposed to the life of the spirit, especially religion, art, and philosophy. Interest in strong and vivid feelings, all-consuming passions, in the secret movements of the soul are characteristic features of romanticism.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) was in the first quarter of the 19th century a "ruler of thoughts", a living personification of romanticism. He, like no one else, embodied the romantic ideal of a complete fusion of biography and creativity, when the artist lives according to the same laws that his characters live by, and the events of his life immediately turn into the material of his works. The "Byronic legend" is alive to this day, and it is important to separate the myth from the facts in it.

Byron was born into an aristocratic family, at the age of ten he inherited the title of lord and a family estate in the north of England, was educated at privileged educational institutions - at Harrow School and the University of Cambridge.

He was preparing for a career as a statesman and for a long time did not treat poetry as the main business of his life. Despite belonging to the ruling elite, he was a rebel by nature, and his whole life was a challenge to the conventions accepted in society. He considered English society inert and hypocritical, did not want to make any concessions to public opinion, and after a short period of glory in his homeland (1812-1816), he left England forever, settling in Italy. His life ended in Greece, where he took part in the national liberation struggle of the Greeks against the Turks.

Byron's poetic heritage is great and varied. Recognition came to him with the publication of the poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" (1812), where he brought out the first romantic hero in English literature and created the genre of romantic lyric-epic poem. Its forms were developed in the Oriental Poems cycle (1813-1816), where romanticism reaches its classical forms. With the move to Italy, his work is enriched in terms of genre (the drama "Manfred", the mystery "Cain", the poems "Beppo", "Mazepa"). The main work of the last years of Byron's life remained unfinished - this is a novel in verse "Don Juan".

The poem "The Corsair" (1814) from the cycle "Oriental Poems" can serve as an example of Byron's romanticism. In all six poems of the cycle, Byron relies on impressions of his southern journey, which he undertook in the countries of the Mediterranean in 1809-1811. For the first time he presented pictures of southern nature to the reader in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and this was one of the components of the success of this poem; the public expected new exotic landscapes from the young poet, and in The Corsair Byron develops the orientalist motifs so characteristic of romanticism in general.

The East in romantic art is opposed to European civilization as a world of free, natural passions, played out against the backdrop of beautiful, fertile nature. But in Byron, the East is more than a conventional romantic background: the action in The Corsair takes place on the islands of the Greek archipelago and in coastal Greece, which is under the rule of the Turks (Seid Pasha in the poem), and the routes of the pirate raids of the protagonist Conrad are topographically accurate, they can can be traced on the map, and in the descriptions of Greece at the beginning of the third canto of the poem, Byron directly relies on his own impressions four years ago. Thus, behind the romantic landscape of the poem, pictures of nature and customs taken from life appear; Byron often gave in his poems an accurate reproduction of the historical and ethnographic environment.

At the heart of The Corsair, as in all other Eastern Poems, is the hero's conflict with the world; the plot is reduced to one dramatic situation - the struggle for love. The hero of the "Corsair" is the leader of the pirates Konrad, his beloved is the meek Medora. The action in the poem begins with the receipt of some news on the pirate island, which forces Konrad to say goodbye to Medora and give the order to urgently raise the sails. Where the pirates are heading and what Conrad's plan is becomes clear from the second song of the poem. The leader of the pirates decides to prevent the blow of his old enemy Seyid Pasha and, in the guise of a pilgrim dervish, sneaks to the feast in the Pasha's palace. He must strike at the enemy in his house, while his pirates set fire to Seyid Pasha's fleet on the eve of going to sea, but the fire in the bay starts earlier than agreed, a heated battle flares up, in which Konrad rescues Seyid Pasha's beloved wife, Gulnar, from a burning seraglio. But military happiness is changeable, and now the pirates are fleeing, and Conrad is captured and thrown into prison.