Byron: The Italian Literary Influence by Peter Vassallo

By Peter Vassallo

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This strange anecdote, in its own way, showed remarkable affinities with the plots of Casti's satires, especially those novelle based on the theme of Italian serventismo with their focus on the return of the lover or husband and the subsequent absurd menage trois. It is more than likely that the Novelle were still fresh in Byron's retentive mind and that they consciously or otherwise influenced his treatment of a similar theme. Whistlecraft, it is true, had come as a revelation, and Byron had admired Frere's skill in assimilating the ottava rima to the vernacular.

Referring to Harold, Gifford suggested in a letter dated 15 June 1813 that: The Libertine as Artist 51 His fixed melancholy might be shaken and glimpses of delight break in occasionally over his habitual gloom. 24 Some of the dramatic posturing of Harold, however, remained, even though the Childe had disappeared from the scene. In a mood of critical self-awareness, Byron confessed to Murray (9 March 1817): 'I certainly am a devil of a mannerist - and must leave off and a day later, writing to Thomas Moore apropos of Jeffrey's review, he admits: ...

That thou wert in thy nakedness Less lovely or more powerful, and couldst claim Thy right, and awe the robbers back, who press To shed thy blood, and drink the tears of thy distress; Then mightest thou more appal; or, less desired, Be homely and be peaceful, undeplored For thy destructive charms; then still untired, Would not be seen the armed torrents pour'd Down the deep Alps; nor would the hostile horde Of many-nationed spoilers from the Po Quaff blood and water; nor the stranger's sword Be thy sad weapon of defence, and so, Victor or vanquished, thou the slave of friend or foe.

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