Byron's Historical Dramas

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Byron's poetic reputation has been established in his comic epic Don Juan and its cognates Beppo and The Vision of Judgment. Poems lying outside this group are still regarded with some uncertainty. This study demonstrates that some of Byron's most deeply held critical and political convictions - but also certain aspects of his experience over which he had comparatively little conscious control - found expression in his historical dramas of 1820-21: Marino Faliero, Sardanapalus, and The Two Foscari. In these plays we find Byron responding with the fullest degree of imaginative intelligence to his work on the management subcommittee at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, the background to which is given its most extensive treatment yet; to his involvement with the Italian nationalist movement; to his advocacy of neo-classical dramatic form and above all to his understanding of Shakespeare and of Shakespeare's reputation among Romantic critics. In this pioneering study Richard Lansdown sheds fresh critical and biographical light on Byron's contribution to the theatre, which will be of great interest to many studying the Romantics.

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Oxford University Press
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