The Byron Journal

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: Annotating the Second Canto

The Byron Journal (2013), 41, (2), 127–144.

Abstract

Most readers of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage concentrate on the poem but the full effect of Byron's popular work is also based on notes and other ‘extraneous’ materials. In particular, the second canto and Byron's views on the contemporary Greece which he discovered on his travels and which sometimes challenged received assumptions depends not only on its poetic core but also on a complement of extra poems, a range of annotation including a number of substantial essays, angry responses to Elgin and Lusieri and appraising accounts of Turks and Albanians, a detailed appendix on Romaic (or vernacular modern Greek), and a facsimile of a letter to Byron in Romaic. The philhellenism which is rightly attributed to Byron and to Childe Harold's Pilgrimage is the product both of a poem which is predominantly nostalgic and looks yearningly to a heroic past and also of notes and prose essays demonstrating a passionate identification with victimised Greek contemporaries, who are associated with other ‘enslaved’ or ‘fallen’ peoples such as the Jews and the Irish.

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Author details

Webb, Timothy