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Byron's "The Giaour"

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Victoria Browne

on 11 December 2012

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Transcript of Byron's "The Giaour"

Lord Byron's "The Giaour" Overview of the Narrative Poem Published in 1813
Structurally Unique: Introduction/Invocation
First 2/3 third person narrative (Muslim fisherman)
Interwoven with flashbacks by Hassan's mother
Last 1/3 is a "confession" by the Giaour, but with no spiritual remorse Frank Dicksee: "Leila" (1892) Overview of the Plot The Giaour visits the tomb of his dead lover Leila
He and Leila (slave to Hassan) escaped the palace during Ramadan, taking one of the horses
They are followed. She is captured and drowned. Hassan and The Giaour fight
Six years later at monastery, The Giaour confesses the story, but asks for no repentance. QUESTIONS? Key Words and Timeline
a.) History (Orientalist discourse)
b.) Politics (The condition of Greece)
c.) Religion While Byron may have personally desired to be an authentic ethnographer, he only perpetuated the Romantic Orientalist discourses that permeated through England at the time. Working Thesis and supporting points (refer to handout): HISTORY "Knolles--Cantemir-- De Tott-- Lady M.W. Montagu...-- The Arabian Nights-- All travels or histories or books upon the East I could meet with, I had read, as well a Rycaut, before I was ten years old. I think the Arabian Nights first."
-- Byron "All which miseries...the Prince of Darkness and the author of mischief hath by persecuting Princes of all Ages, and antient Hereticks his Ministers, labored from time to time to bring upon the Church of God, to the obscuring of his blessed Name, and utter subversion of his most sacred Word; but yet by none, no not by them all together so much prevailed, as by the false Prophet Mahomet, born in an unhappy hour, to the great destruction of Mankind: whose most gros and blasphemous Doctrine...dispersed upon the Earth to the unspeakable ruin and destruction of the Christian Religion and State..." -- Knolles and Rycaut (1687) "They have few bookes, and lesse learnying, and are for the most part very brutysh in all kynde of good sciences..."

"Theyr lawes are, is is theyr religion, wicked and detestable. And if any many offend the Prince, he punysheth it extreamly, not only in the person that offedeth, but also in his chyldren, and in as many as are of his kynne..."

"When thy bye any maydes or young women, they use to feele them in all partes, as with us men do horses: when one hath bought a young woman, yf he lyke her, he wyll keepe her for his owne use as long as hym lyketh... -- Eden (1577) Key passages from "The Giaour" a.) “And all its hidden secrets sleep,/Known but to Genii of the deep,/Which trembling in their coral caves,/They dare not whisper to the waves.” b.) “Then curl’d his very beard with ire,/ And glared his eye with fiercer fire;/’Though far and near the bullets hiss,/ I’ve scoped a bloodier hour than this.’/ And now the foe their covert quit,/ And call his vassals to submit;/ But Hassan’s frown and furious word/Are dreaded more than hostile sword” -- Delacroix, "The Sultan of Morocco" Greece "So powerful is the effect of the Turkish system that all who dwell long in the country seems inevitably to feel the effects of this moral atmosphere by a want of energy, even indifference to everything but the vulgar pursuits of life." -- Sir W. Leake FRS (1821) "For Byron, Greece, and its civilisation, belongs to the West and no natural affiliation at all with 'the Other' is recognised, a point which is made clear in the poem's eulogy on Greece." -- Seyed Marandi Henry Fuseli "The artist moved to despair" -- Ingres "Oedipus et Sphinx" Key Passages from "The Giaour" a.) “..While kings, in dusty darkness hid,/Have left a nameless pyramid,/Thy heroes, though the general doom/Hath swept the column from their tomb,/A mightier monument command./The mountains of their native land…To villain-hounds and despot sway./What can he tell who treads thy shore?”

b.) “The fiery souls that might have led/Thy sons to deeds sublime,/ Now crawl from cradle to the grave, Slaves--” Religion “I do not believe in revealed religion - I will have nothing to do with your immortality; we are miserable enough in this life, without speculating on another.”

"I have a great mind to believe in Christianity for the mere pleasure of fancying I may be damned." --Byron Narratives of the Seraglio Key Passages from "The Giaour" a.) “Millions of lamps proclaim’d the feast/Of Bairam through the boundless East/ T’was then she went as to the bath,/ Which Hassan vainly search’d in wrath!/For she was flown her master’s rage/In likeness of a Georgian page,/ And far beyond the Moslem’s power/ Had wrong’d him with the faithless Giaour.”
b.) “Oh! Who young Leila’s glance could read/And keep that portion of his creed/Which saith that woman is but dust,/ A soulless toy for tyrant’s lust?”
c.) “Who falls in battle ‘gainst a Giaour/Is worthiest an immortal bower.” --Thomas Phillips Thank You
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