The Byron Journal

Byron’s Love Letters

The Byron Journal (2015), 43, (1), 1–14.

Abstract

Byron’s love letters are often rather conventional. One can sometimes suspect he is going through the motions when writing letters to lovers. Yet his love letters have more to tell us than they might at first appear to. This essay reads a sample of these letters via a number of key passages from Byron’s poetry, in which Byron stresses both the inadequacy of language to express emotion and thought and the power of language to produce emotion and thought. It suggests that the conventionality of Byron’s love letters is Byron’s way of both navigating language’s expressive limitations and deploying its emotive power. The love letters that the essay looks at seek to seduce their recipients into, rather than just with, feeling – indeed they use language’s expressive inadequacy to do this. As they do so, they reveal something fundamental about Byron not just as a lover but also as a writer.

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Author details

Rawes, Alan