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BYRON AND ROMANTICISM


This collection of essays represents twenty-¬ve years of work by one
of the most important critics of Romanticism and Byron studies,
Jerome McGann. The collection demonstrates McGann™s evolu-
tion as a scholar, editor, critic, theorist, and historian. His “General
analytic and historical introduction” to the collection presents a
meditation on the history of his own research on Byron, in particu-
lar how scholarly editing interacted with the theoretical innovations
in literary criticism over the last quarter of the twentieth century.
McGann™s receptiveness to dialogic forms of criticism is also illus-
trated in this collection, which contains an interview and concludes
with a dialogue between McGann and the editor. Many of these
essays have previously been available only in specialized scholarly
journals. Now McGann™s in¬‚uential work on Byron can be appre-
ciated by new generations of students and scholars.

is the John Stewart Bryan University Professor,
JEROME McGANN
University of Virginia, and the Thomas Holloway Professor of
Victorian Media and Culture, Royal Holloway, University of
London. He is the author of Byron, Fiery Dust (±) and Don Juan In
Context (±·) and the editor of Lord Byron: The Complete Poetical Works
(±°“±).

is Fulbright Scholar and Associate Professor of
JAMES SODERHOLM
English and American Literature at Charles University in Prague.
He is the author of Fantasy, Forgery, and the Byron Legend (±) and
Beauty and the Critic: Aesthetics in an Age of Cultural Studies (±·).
µ°
CAMBRIDGE STUDIES IN ROMANTICISM



BYRON AND ROMANTICISM
CAMBRIDGE STUDIES IN ROMANTICISM

General editors
Professor Marilyn Butler Professor James Chandler
University of Oxford University of Chicago

Editorial board
John Barrell, University of York
Paul Hamilton, University of London
Mary Jacobus, University of Cambridge
Kenneth Johnston, Indiana University
Alan Liu, University of California, Santa Barbara
Jerome McGann, University of Virginia
David Simpson, University of California, Davis


This series aims to foster the best new work in one of the most challenging
¬elds within English literary studies. From the early ±·°s to the early ±°s
a formidable array of talented men and women took to literary composition,
not just in poetry, which some of them famously transformed, but in many
modes of writing. The expansion of publishing created new opportunities for
writers, and the political stakes of what they wrote were raised again by what
Wordsworth called those “great national events” that were “almost daily taking
place”: the French Revolution, the Napoleonic and American wars, urbanisa-
tion, industrialisation, religious revival, an expanded empire abroad, and the
reform movement at home. This was an enormous ambition, even when it
pretended otherwise. The relations between science, philosophy, religion, and
literature were reworked in texts such as Frankenstein and Biographia Literaria; gen-
der relations in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Don Juan; journalism by
Cobbett and Hazlitt; poetic form, content, and style by the Lake School and
the Cockney School. Outside Shakespeare studies, probably no body of writing
has produced such a wealth of response or done so much to shape the responses
of modern criticism. This indeed is the period that saw the emergence of those
notions of “literature” and of literary history, especially national literary history,
on which modern scholarship in English has been founded.
The categories produced by Romanticism have also been challenged by
recent historicist arguments. The task of the series is to engage both with a chal-
lenging corpus of Romantic writings and with the changing ¬eld of criticism
they have helped to shape. As with other literary series published by Cambridge,
this one will represent the work of both younger and more established scholars,
on either side of the Atlantic and elsewhere.
For a complete list of titles published see end of book.
BYRON AND ROMANTICISM

JEROME McGANN
The John Stewart Bryan University Professor, University of Virginia


EDITED BY

JAMES SODERHOLM
Associate Professor, Charles University, Prague
©¤§ µ®©© °
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge  µ, United Kingdom
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
www.cambridge.org
Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521809580

© Jerome McGann 2002


This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provision of
relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place
without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published in print format 2002

©®-± 978-0-511-07382-3 eBook (EBL)

isbn-13
©®-±° 
isbn-10 0-511-07382-8 eBook (EBL)

©®-± 978-0-521-80958-0 hardback
°
isbn-13
©®-±° 
isbn-10 0-521-80958-4 hardback

©®-± ±
isbn-13 978-0-521-00722-1 paperback
©®-±° 
isbn-10 0-521-00722-4 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of
µ¬s for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not
guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.
Contents




Acknowledgments page ix

±
General analytical and historical introduction

PART I

± ±
Milton and Byron
 
Byron, mobility, and the poetics of historical ventriloquism
 µ
“My brain is feminine”: Byron and the poetry of deception
 What difference do the circumstances of publication make
··
to the interpretation of a literary work?
µ 
Byron and the anonymous lyric
 Private poetry, public deception ±±
· ±±
Hero with a thousand faces: the rhetoric of Byronism
 Byron and the lyric of sensibility ±°
 Byron and Wordsworth ±·

PART II

±° °µ
A point of reference
±± 
History, herstory, theirstory, ourstory
± ±
Literature, meaning, and the discontinuity of fact
± 
Rethinking Romanticism


vii
List of contents
viii
± µ
An interview with Jerome McGann
±µ Poetry, ±·°“± 
± Byron and Romanticism, a dialogue ( Jerome McGann

and the editor, James Soderholm)

°
Subject index
°
Authors index
Acknowledgments




This book would not have appeared but for the insistence and persistence
of two dear friends, James Chandler and James Soderholm. I hope it
meets some of their standards and expectations.
Because the material has been culled from various essays published
over the years in different venues, I have revised the original texts, often
somewhat heavily. I thank the editors for giving their permission to
reprint pieces from the following books and journals.
Copyright in all essays rests with Jerome J. McGann. Every attempt
has been made to contact the original publishers of the material collected
in this volume.

“A point of reference,” in Historical Studies and Literary Criticism. C ±µ.
Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press.
“Byron and Romanticism: an interview with Jerome McGann,” in New
Literary History,  (°°±), ·“. Reprinted by permission of the
Editor of New Literary History.
“Literature, meaning, and the discontinuity of fact,” in The Uses of Literary
History, ed. Marshall Brown (±µ). Reprinted by permission of
Duke University Press.
“Byron and the anonymous lyric,” in The Byron Journal, ed. Bernard
Beatty, (±). Reprinted by permission of the editor.
“What difference do the circumstances of publication make to the
interpretation of a literary work?” in Literary Pragmatics, ed.
Roger D. Sell, (±±). Reprinted by permission of Routledge.
“Byron and the lyric of sensibility,” in European Romantic Review,
 (Summer ±), ed. Grant Scott. Reprinted by permission of
the editor.
“Poetry, ±·°“±,” in The Columbia History of Poetry, ed. Carl Woodring.
C ± Columbia University Press. Reprinted by permission of the
publisher.
ix
Acknowledgments
x
“Private poetry, public deception,” in The Politics of Poetic Form, ed. Charles
Bernstein, Segue Foundation (±°). Reprinted by permission of the
publisher.
“Byron, mobility, and the politics of historical ventriloquism,” in
Romanticism Past and Present :± (Winter ±µ). Reprinted by per-
mission of the former editor.
“Milton and Byron,” in The Keats“Shelley Memorial Association, Bulletin
Number XXV (±·), ed. Dorothy Hewlett, pp. “µ.
“ ˜My brain is feminine™: Byron and the poetics of deception,” in Byron.
Augustan and Romantic, ed. Andrew Rutherford (MacMillan, ±°).
“Hero with a thousand faces: the rhetoric of Byronism,” in Studies in
Romanticism, ± (Fall ±).
“History, herstory, theirstory, ourstory,” in Theoretical Issues in Literary
History, ed. David Perkins, Harvard English Studies ±µ, ±±.
“Rethinking Romanticism,” in English Literary History, µ (±).
“An interview with Jerome McGann,” in Cambridge Quarterly (Fall ±),
with Steven Earnshaw and Philip Shaw, recorded at Warwick
University, England.
“Byron and Wordsworth,” with thanks to the School of English Studies,
University of Nottingham.
General analytical and historical introduction




This is a book of “double re¬‚ection,” as we used to say twenty-¬ve years
ago (early ±·°s), when the earliest of the writings gathered here was ¬rst
published. In a moment I™ll try to explain why it is, and also why I™m
putting this book together now.
Double re¬‚ection, perhaps one has to recall, is a Hegelian/Marxist
phrase that named the kinds of theoretical passions driving so much of
everyone™s work in the late ±°s and early ±·°s. It seems slightly quaint
now “ a sort of kangaroo among the beauties of current scholarship.
“Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear!” That
was how the narrator introduced The Lone Ranger radio program, a pas-
sion of mine twenty-¬ve years before I wrote anything in this book:
“The Lone Ranger,” that is to say another (mid twentieth-century) avatar
of The Giaour, The Corsair, Mazeppa. Beyond Baudelaire, Berlioz,
Kierkegaard, Melville, Nietzsche, etc., the Byronic generations do go on.
But in ±, when I began my research on Byron and Romanticism,
those generations had been dispersed almost entirely into popular cul-
tural venues. A ¬rst re¬‚exive move for me was therefore my graduate
research: a doctoral thesis on Byron and the theoretical problems of
“biographical criticism.” I wanted to study why Byron, who for nearly a
hundred years fairly de¬ned, in the broadest international context, the
“meaning” of Romanticism, had all but disappeared from the most se-
rious forms of academic and professional attention. It seemed odd that

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