Byron: Modes of modernity, a study of allusion and digression

Stabler, Susan Jane (1995) Byron: Modes of modernity, a study of allusion and digression. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The thesis takes as its starting point an exploration and assessment of critical responses to sudden transitions of tone and juxtapositions of register in Byron's work. A survey of the reception of Byron's poetry and prose 1812- 1830 establishes that juxtaposition was recognised as a feature of Byron's writing well before the publication of the ottava rima poems. Juxtaposition is identified as a moment which generates digression and the thesis focuses on the relationship between digression and Byron's differing modes of allusion to other texts. The study examines the materiality of Byron's poetry in relation to eighteenth-century examples of self-reflexive narrative, digression and parodic quotation in verse, novels, and dramatic writing. In particular, the influence of the writing and receptions of Laurence Sterne and Charles Churchill are discussed, together with Byron's experience of dramatic prologues to eighteenth-century comedies. The thesis concentrates on Byron's experiments with the genre of satire, paying close attention to the way prose notes punctuate Byron's verse compositions. Detailed analyses of parenthetical asides and signalled allusions in Byron's early verse (1806-1811), Hints from Horace (1811 and 1820-21), and Don Juan Cantos VI-XVII (1822-24) suggest ways in which Byron's allusive play with other texts is inflected by dialogue with his changing public reception and the relationship with his publisher John Murray, and friend John Cam Hobhouse. Exploration of the literary texture of Don Juan reveals complex shifting patterns of Shakespearean allusion; and figures of contingency within the poem are related to the reader's role in constructing and responding to digression. As well as close reading of the published work, the thesis draws on unpublished correspondence between Murray and Byron and archive research into Byron's use of the Parisian newspaper Galignani's Messenger and Galignani's Literary Gazette. The thesis suggests that in Byron's ottava rima work digressive allusions create a mode of intertextuality which we recognise as anticipating modernist and postmodernist poetics of indeterminacy. The theories of Mikhail Bakhtin, Julia Kristeva, and Roland Barthes offer approaches to the texture of digressive allusion: the thesis draws on these theories and concludes that an historicized reading of form may provide a way of negotiating our recognition of similarities and differences between literary texts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by funding from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.
Keywords: English literature.
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities
Supervisor's Name: Drummond, Professor Bone
Date of Award: 1995
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1995-71694
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:31
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2021 09:15
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.71694

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