Byron's Adulterous Fidelity

Matthew Reynolds

in The Poetry of Translation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199605712
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731617 | DOI:
Byron's Adulterous Fidelity

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This capacity of translation to stage conventionality lay dormant until Byron, who was much indebted to Italian romances and their English translations. In Book 1 of Don Juan, he replays great phrases about love (many from Dante's episode of Paolo and Francesca) in such a way as to make them seem both guarantees of authenticity and tell‐tale marks of secondhandness: the same sensibility is evident in his correspondence with his Italian lover Teresa Guiccioli which is again laced with recollections of Dante. In his translation of Francesca's speech from Inferno, Byron allows himself to be overcome by the text in a way that is unfaithful to Dante but (as he sees it) faithful to Francesca. This is an instance of translation‐as‐passion—which differs from translation‐as‐desire in that it takes the source text as the origin of an impulse rather than as an object to be pursued.

Keywords: Byron; Don Juan; Dante; Inferno; Francesca; Guiccioli; passion

Chapter.  5912 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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