Selected Papers from the IAUPE Malta Conference in 2010
Byron and Latin-Levantine Europe: Sergio Perosa
Byron and Latin-Levantine Europe Sergio Perosa University of Venice His port lay on the other side o’ the isle. Don Juan, III, 19 1. Historical circumstances and personal predilections drove Byron to skirt conti- nental Europe: he was attracted by and sought a Mediterranean, peripheral, Latin-Levantine Europe, verging on the East. In his travels and in his poetry he circled round central Europe, from Scotland to the Caucasus, and back; he rev- elled in sunlit and exotic Mediterranean Europe, constantly seen in opposition to the cold, hypocritical, censorious and oppressive Northern climates. For his first experience (1809-1811), central Europe was precluded to him: the Napoleonic wars were raging and Europe was under the rule of France, ex- cept for Portugal – which was in fact Byron’s first stop. He never visited Madrid, Paris or Berlin: no traditional Grand Tour was possible for him. (His first wish had been to visit the Islamic world, Persia, India, which he never reached, stop- ping in Greece, then under the Ottoman Empire, and in Turkey.) For his second experience, that of his final expatriation (1816-1823), he was refused a passport through France, where the Bourbons had been restored, and he had to cross the Netherlands and Belgium (which he did not like) in order the reach the South by the Rhine. He cuts through central Europe like a knife, as quickly as possible.1 Central Europe was then for him the place of war and desolation (as shown by long passages in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Canto...
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