Lord Byron's Strength: Romantic Writing and Commercial Society

Front Cover
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993 - Literary Criticism - 426 pages
According to Jerome Christensen, literary histories of British Romanticism have dealt inadequately with Byron's "lordship" - his singularity as a phenomenal literary success and as the last and greatest aristocratic poet in the language. At first, Byron does not want a poetic career. Then, entrapped by his extraordinary success, he gets one. And once Byron has a career, he ruins it - not by his unsavory sexual practices and political grandstanding but by publishing his greatest poem. The first extended study of the career and persona of the most celebrated poet of the nineteenth century, Lord Byron's Strength draws on contemporary literary, political, and social theory not only to revise our understanding of Byron but also to reexamine the romanticism of Coleridge, Wordsworth, Scott, Hazlitt, and Shelley. Christensen argues that the literary system that became "Byronism" was a complicated contrivance engineered by the poet - in collaboration with his publisher, friends, reviewers, and readers - for the greater glory of a United Kingdom triumphant in the war with Napoleon. Wellington may have won on the battlefield, but the real victory for Great Britain would depend on its ability to symbolize itself in a way that would overcome foreign resistance without force of arms - that would turn enemies into consumers. Christensen contends that Byron was the predominant vehicle for that strategy. British commercial society would benefit extravagantly from the international success of Childe Harold and the glamour and appeal of its author. But Byronism was a project that - in Don Juan, his greatest poem - Byron would reject. Lord Byron's Strength is an account of the packaging and sale of Byron, the poet's increasing resistance to the constraints of Byronism, and his eventual break with the commercial society that had made him its symbol.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

Lord Byron's strength: romantic writing and commercial society

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this dense, scholarly work, Christensen argues that the phenomenon of "Byronism'' was created by a literary system involving poet, publisher, reviewers, and readers. Moreover, this economically ... Read full review


The Performance of Lordship
An English Bard Scotch Reviewers

8 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information