The Byron Journal

Byron, Burns and the Baroque

The Byron Journal (2011), 39, (2), 107–116.

Abstract

This essay outlines some of the ways in which the work of Burns and Byron is informed by Baroque conventions, traditions and concerns. It focuses particularly on: an interest in the work of both poets in grotesque images of flesh and carnivalism, which function in a poetic world of irony where the comic is employed as a means of depicting chaos; a shared interest in the topos of vanitas and the melancholy inspired by it; a fascination on the part of both poets with various forms of 'madness' and the connection between these and the theatrum mundi, as well as with masks, distorted perceptions and illusions; each poet's syncretic mixture of styles and 'sublime coincidentia oppositorum' world model; their use of genres such as the erotic elegy, the burlesque letter and the oratorio, and of motifs based on Baroque emblems of chivalry. The essay concludes by suggesting that a wider knowledge of the connections between the Baroque and the Romantic would deepen our sense of both the artistic legacy inherited by the Romantics and their transformation of it.

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Author details

Modrzewska, Mirosława