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Adventurous and contemplative : a reading of Byron's Don Juan Addison, Catherine Anne 1987

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)  "ADVENTUROUS A N D  CONTEMPLATIVE"  A R E A D I N G O F B Y R O N ' S DON  JUAN  by CATHERINE A N N E A THESIS SUBMITTED  IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF  THE REQUIREMENTS DOCTOR  ADDISON  FOR T H E DEGREE OF  OF  PHILOSOPHY  in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY  O F BRITISH  COLUMBIA  4 October 1987 © CATHERINE A N N E ADDISON,  1987  In presenting  this thesis in partial fulfilment  of the  requirements for an advanced  degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department  or  by his  or  her  representatives.  It  is  understood  that  copying or  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department of The University of British Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3  ABSTRACT  This dissertation on Byron's Don Juan begins with a history and analysis of the stanza form. Since ottava rima is a two-fold structure, comprising an alternately rhyming sestet followed by an independent couplet, it encourages the expression of dialectical ideas. Byron's prosodic virtuosity uses this potential to create a multivalent tissue of tones which is essentially—and almost infinitely—ironic. A view of prosody is developed here which is unique in its perception of the poem's existence in terms of a reading that unfolds in "real time." For various reasons, "reader-response" critics have not yet taken much cognizance of prosody. Don Juan is a good testing-ground for their approach because its narrator constantly addresses his reader, insisting on a present time which actively accumulates a past and projects a future, as a reader's consciousness moves sequentially forward through the text. The present time of the verse rhythms is the present time of the discourse, which is often most self-reflexive in the famous "digressions." Some of these begin with an epic simile whose vehicle grows out of proportion to its tenor; others are triggered by an interruption of the story, as the narrator—like a Renaissance improvisor in ottava rima— suddenly addresses his audience directly. Still other digressions are not metaleptic leaps from a fictional to a "real" world, or from one fictional world to another, however; they are the result of the narrator's tendency to linger too long in one world, elaborating descriptions until his story is forgotten. Despite the poem's many-voiced, digressive insouciance, an investigation of its moral and metaphysical components reveals that its irony has limits. Maugre those critics who would claim Don Juan as the paradigmatic work of unlimited, infinitely regressive Romantic irony, the issue of political liberty is not to be joked about, unlike the problem of erotic love. A t this stable point in an otherwise absurd universe, Byron reveals a non-ironic self under the ironic mask. More effectively than traditional autobiography, because it is enacted rather than reported, this poem recreates its author dramatically, in terms of a shifting triangular relationship between narrator, protagonist and reader. The temporal locus of this relationship is a fictional present tense grounded in the "real" present time of a reading of the poem.  ii  T A B L E OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT  ii  INTRODUCTION  iv  Chapter I OTTAVA Chapter II OTTAVA  RIM A: A S U R V E Y RIM A I N DON JUAN  Chapter III S I M I L E  1 38 90  Chapter I V D I G R E S S I O N  128  Chapter V T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R  170  Chapter V I N A R R A T O R , R E A D E R , P R O T A G O N I S T  212  WORKS CONSULTED  273  iii  INTRODUCTION  Structuralist other  artefacts,,  approaches  instititions  to literary and non-literary texts,  and  natural  phenomena  have  as  well  as  characterized  to  much  academic research and thinking in the second half of the twentieth century. Their world  geometry  may  have  projects  become  Clearly,  a  artistic  construction  extremely  a  popular  system which  useful  binary system  to  because  simplifies a  series  it is the  of  as the  the  prototype  basic  of structure,  principle of the  which  computer.  multiple and labyrinthine complexities of comprehensible  tool. What I, like many  of the  either-or  recent  categories  is  reader-response  an  critics,  feel to be frequently lacking, however, is a follow-up to the idealizing activity of structuralist  approaches—a  kind  of return  to  the  thing itself,  after  directions,  positions and place-names have been studied on the map. This is not to advocate a romantic recapturing of primitive experience. Instead, I suggest a return which is not a regression, but a going back armed with as much knowledge and theory as possible—which is a return only insofar as it is a movement toward a closer observation  of  experience  and  the  experiencing  consciousness's  acceptance  or  rejection of learned models. The binary system, or the world-as-exclusive-choices, has  a simplicity of form  which  is favoured by human  perception, but  a  point  exists at which only the most stolid or brain-washed consciousness will not reject its limitations in the face of sheer diversity and complexity of phenomena. Byron's modes  Don  of utterance:  Juan  has  narrative  been and  most  the hero and the narrator,  narrative  the  digressive modes  divided  digression. The poem  "protagonists": and  usefully  by  critics into  appears  to  have  who are the principal subjects  respectively. Ottava rima,  the  stanza  two two  of the form  Byron employs, falls into two parts: an alternately rhyming sestet and a couplet iv  which does not rhyme with any line of the sestet. Clearly, the sestet lends itself to  the  forward-leaning  produce  more  movement  epigrammatic,  of  less  a  story,  narrative  whereas  utterances.  the The  couplet stanza  tends  allows  to this  regular pulsation of narration and digression a formal metrical container with two differently  shaped  compartments  in which  the  two  separate  utterances can  be  held. This Juan.  structure,  or critical  A n "innocent" reader  until he or she has  outline, is a  good one for a reading of Don  probably not  make  will  constructed  something like the  unconsciously. However, no good reading will  much  sense of the  poem  above, either consciously or  sustain these particular dichotomies  all the time throughout its passage through the text. A reader will encounter not merely  an  occasional exception  to  the  rule,  or  Barthes'  tissue  of  conflicting  patterns of unruliness, but recurring episodes of rule-breaking which contradict the rule in consistent ways and which demand, in fact, a change in the rule which makes  it less simple and prescriptive and more  complex and descriptive. Most  informed readers' experience of Don Juan— and, naturally, of many other texts  as  well—occurs somewhere in between chaos and binary mathematical order. Without trying to dislodge or undermine  what  (Frye's term), such useful structures, for  a critical reading of Don Juan  provide from  are,  in pre-critical readings  of the  poem  this dissertation is an attempt to account  in some, at least, of its complexity, and to  this account certain amendments  them indeed less elegant, but perhaps  to structural models which  more finely  adjusted  make  to their environment  and uses. In  order  to keep  critical  attention  on the  sequential reading instead of on the fragmented  v  continuous present  time  of a  atemporal experiences of a critic  with the  text  in hand, I create a  fictional  reader who performs  and  perceives  the text in a fictional present tense. A narration of this reader's critical reading of Don Juan, of  course,  as a single, finite event,  following  Byron's example,  included. Close observation  is the basis of the  much  digression and  and detailed description of the credibility of a "living  shortcomings,  detail,  insufficiencies  of  phenomena  which  in  theories  commentary perceptual  choices of a reader possessing the or  dissertation—though,  fiction"  of  is  also  and  active  reveals  many  prosody,  irony  and  narrative. Among narrative nor  the  and  digression. They are  mutually  elude  the  current  structure's  experienced by the  exclusive in Don Juan,  reader as neither  single  "digressive"  and digressions sometimes narrative. Also, the hero and the narrator  are not the  is frequently  narration  are  is frequently  only "protagonists,"  since  confines  even excluding the other characters  co-opted to play a  And the three-fold structure three of its members  part in the  of hero, narrator  are  protean  in the poem: the reader  unfolding drama  of the  dialogue.  and reader is unstable, because all  and many-faced.  The narrative—or,  at  the main story—is not the exclusive domain of the hero, Juan, for the transgressively  enters this story on occasion; the  exclude  but  Juan,  often  comprise  relevant  least,  narrator  digressions, conversely, do not  discussion  of  him  and  his  story,  sometimes taking the form of over-elaboration of the narration. Byron's ottava rima does indeed generally divide into two along the line of its change in rhyme-scheme (between lines 6 and 7); but the divided sections not  necessarily  a  blocks of stanzas, turn  is  used  for  narrative  sestet  and  a  digressive  couplet.  A t times,  including couplets, narrate or digress; furthermore, widely  various  purposes.  vi  This  turn  can  also  the  are  whole stanzaic  be—at  least,  partly—overridden by other effects. Predictably, the couplet is often used for irony of tone, but irony is not confined to couplets and much of the poem's  irony is  not tonal  Passages  at  all, but  more  subtle  and comprehensive  Romantic irony.  occur which are not ironic at all, and these, intoned in the vatic, single voice of the visionary lyric, are  perhaps  the  most disturbing, when the reader  considers  them in context with the profound and cosmic ironies manifested elsewhere. These contradictions have led critics such as Mellor and Thorslev to regard Don as  an  extreme  eternally Juan's  example  unresolved, irony do  its  of  Romantic  ironies  irony:  infinitely  occur, though  not,  human glory. Byron passionately  its  antitheses  regressive.  perhaps,  advocates  are  However,  in the  realms  Juan  perceived limits  of erotic  to  as Don  love or  political liberty and rejects hypocrisy  in this poem as in his own life; and these two stable points steady and order Don Juan's  moral universe, just  as  its  stanza  form  orders  the  texture  of its  discourse. I do not try to avoid binary structures in this dissertation; in fact, I use them  wherever  encounter  with  possible, because this  "versified  of their Aurora  simplicity Borealis"  and in  strength.  all  ever-varying" multiplicity (VII, 2) acts as a prism on the producing simple terms  a  spectrum  opposition of white  and  possibilities much  black. Don  of a matrix of combinations than  categories;  its  changeful,  Tritonic  texture  of contrasting  relationships figures  are than  is better illustrated as  a  Juan  by means  can  be  as  duality of narrator adjustable  complex than  better  understood  of a dual set  perceptively  finely  "nondescript  envisaged  system  and  light of simple logic,  more  more a  its  However, an  as and  a  the in  of exclusive triangle  of  protagonist;  its  of foregrounding and  backgrounding which may throw into relief many effects or just one, than by a  vii  set of antithetical devices which may be switched only on or off. These are  the  metaphors or models to which I have resorted, and if they do not. command the rhetoric  of  simplicity,  they  may  possess  compelling precisely because it is asymetrical.  viii  an  arabesque  complexity  which  is  CHAPTER I  OTTAVA  Don Juan blocks  on  a  RIMA:  A  SURVEY  occurs, to the unfocused eye, as a series of opaque  page.  Briefly,  before  the  reading  process  begins,  rectangular this  visual  impression may occupy the centre of consciousness. Then, as the eye focuses and starts  to  flick  across  foreground,  one  backgrounds  the  first,  line  after  another.  poem's  especially in the  after  visual  claims, the  The  of  ease  print, with  shape may  for it are  "Text," unlike what  other  take  the  forgets  or  phenomenological critic  at  which  puzzle  study of a text which  one. However, the two reasons Barthes  line  a  refers  impressions the  reader  to itself  as  often  as  this  not hard to find. Firstly, as Roland he calls the  "work," is not statically  spatial but dynamic: it is "experienced only in an activity of production." What 1  is  produced by this activity when a narrative  story  whose  fictional  space  and  time  text  is "set  usually—though  not  . . . going"  always—occupy  reader's attention during reading. If, due to prompting by the  will no longer be constituted by the statically spatial or visual. Reading its  principal  sensory  dimension  surface  is  not  instead  space,  of the  reader  surface  active;  text's  the  become  essentially  of this  text,  the  should  is  aware  is a  2  but  time.  Genette claims that the written narrative "can only be 'consumed,' and  1  story,  3  the  Gerard therefore  OTTAVA actualized,  in a  Genette,  is  time that  a  basis  "pseudo-time"—inherent motion  along  kinaesthetic  for in  printed  is obviously reading all  the  the  other  narrative.  lines,  will  sense: a consciousness  reduce  A SURVEY / 2  time." This time, according to times—fictional  Reading,  4  RIMA:  being  visual  times,  essentially  awareness  into  or  bound a  sort  of linear motion in which a stanza  straight lines to be travelled over, not a rectangular  shape.  into of  is eight  Secondly, Don  Juan  is not a prose narrative but a poem with a highly organized rhythm and rhyme scheme. Hegel is not the only theorist to make  "concrete"  what  in ordinary  to claim that versification, whose art language  is merely  "abstract," does  is this  through its taking up of time in "actual sound," which "must receive a definite configuration," measured  as  music  intervals,  does.  its  Metrical  5  chimes  and  poetry, its  with  its  discords,  rises  subsists  time-dominated sense of hearing than in the space-orientated cannot  respond  to  the  meter  of  a  poem,"  writes  "without hearing it performed, either by another or subvocally."  and  falls,  its  rather  in  the  sense of sight. "One  Barbara  Herrnstein  Smith,  reader or by one's self, vocally  6  This dissertation will not begin to examine an actual reading of Don Juan until Chapter II. The present chapter is an attempt to freeze the moment reading—the  perception of the  spatial—and  to anatomise  terms of its construction out  of language.  As the  the  before  shape perceived in  mind contemplating a  static  object will soon follow a train of thoughts with no obviously visual foundation, so the  discussion will  stanzaic shape,  move  on  to  the  intellectual paradigm  which  produced  this  and from thence to a brief history of both the stanza before it  was discovered by Byron and of Byron's poetic development up to its discovery. Since  the  body  of the  discussion, in later  chapters,  will  focus on the  present  OTTAVA time  of  the  reading  experience—and  generates—the first chapter past tense. The  must  the  other  was  Harold's Pilgrimage  not  born  fictional  A SURVEY  present  / 3  times  this  be conceived as existing largely in a kind of  author's intention is not  past: ottava rima  RIMA:  and  to place a  raised  for  its  teleological model on use  in Don Juan;  the  Childe  was not merely a warm-up exercise for the magnum opus to  follow. Nevertheless, since the central concern of this dissertation is the "now" of a reading—and, previously  as Chapter V I will explain, of the writing—of Don Juan,  written—and  read—works  will  take  on that  past-tense  other,  perspective  of  "leading up to" the work in hand, however the author may protest. Teleology is a persistent side-effect of phenomenology. In  modern English, many short poems, but only relatively few long ones,  occur, like Don Juan, mainly  limited  as squarish opaque blocks on a page.  to the  lyric,  in which briefness,  density  Stanzaic forms  and  closure work  are with  absence or backgrounding of narrative, to produce a single, complex impression in which  space  lacking the  is  at  "and  least  then...and  time may be suppressed being  highly conscious  time-dominated  as  important then"  and the  a  dimension as  structure  time.  of narrative,  the  In  a  short  linear  concept of  reader may have a sense of simultaneity, of  of beginning,  end  and  body,  even  while the  metered,  activity of reading is taking place. However, in a narrative,  reader usually needs to have  work  a sense of an  the  advancing, linear present time, to  the detriment, more or less, of the sense of simultanaeity, which conceives of the whole  work  consciousness.  as  a  unit.  Natural  forgetfulness  works  in  favour  of  this  time  In a long work, even a reader with an excellent memory on a  tenth reading will not achieve a sense of all the words and fluctuations at same time. They must unscroll successively; they cannot all be seen at once.  the  OTTAVA Observing Don Juan aware  of  the  structural  from  the  principle  ceiling,  that  as  RIM A:  A SURVEY / 4  it were, a reader  distinguishes  it  from  is  nearly  all  printed narratives in English: it is organized into stanzas. Most other are  written in prose,  justified  at  which  covers  both margins; prose  the  whole printable  space  and  divides horizontally into paragraphs  signally other  narratives is usually whose size  varies arbitrarily. Many long poems, which may be narrative to varying degrees, are  in blank  Paragraphing,  verse,  which  is  a  continuous column  if it is marked, is, as  with  prose,  with fairly  a ragged  right edge.  arbitrary. Now blank  verse, because it utilizes the same metrical line as Byron's stanza, can be seen as one step nearer to Byron's verse than prose in stylization. Each stylizing step will  place more restrictions on what  rhythm  and rhyme. This will  can be  said, owing to the  necessities of  be particularly evident to anyone who has  ever  attempted metrical composition. A certain amount of skill is needed to limit one's utterances practice, unstresses  in find  English  to  iambic  pentameter,  but  most  people,  after  a  little  that they can produce some regular lines by dint of reduction of  and rearrangement of syntax, doggerel though it be:  Small skill you need to write iambic metre; The trick is cutting down on parts of speech And rearranging syntax, so that now It makes a sense you did not first intend. Greater skill would even make the sense you did intend—at least, up to a point. How  far this point varies from the point offered by prose, or by written prose,  or by a particular style of written prose, are questions whose answers can only be estimated. In this discussion they will be largely evaded, though they remain implicit in analyses of the kinds of utterance made possible by a specific kind of verse. Questions like these assuredly plague students  of literature in an age in  OTTAVA which  criticism  shows  "Which language  a  marked  is the language  tendency  to  equate  RIMA:  A SURVEY / 5  thought  with  language.  of thought?" we ask; and our answer, if we  find one, is extremely unlikely to be anything like "organized metrical form" or "ottava rima." For  the  moment,  the  important  thing  is  to  note  that  English  is  not  squeezed with exceeding difficulty into the blank verse mold, even if the metrical liberties which many lengthy writers in this medium have allowed themselves are not taken. Breaking a continuous column of these lines into paragraphs can occur as  "naturally" and as irregularly as  it does in prose, and the  point at  which  one idea is relinquished and another taken up can be understood as a paragraph division even if the column is not visibly broken. Sentence length and type will to  some extent  be governed by the  form,  but  this form  includes no regularly  occurring encouragement to start a new idea or to end one. However, writer  submits  speaking—or  once  a  himself,  even  rhyme-scheme  is  added  the  is  substantially  situation  writing—in  rhymed  verse  in  to  the  any  strictures altered.  to  To  language  which  claim  is  a  that  "easy"  or  "natural" is probably ridiculous. In English, simply too few rhymes are available to make the form anything but highly artificial—and highly formulaic, as Byron's mocking  chimes  suggest.'  A s David  verse  know how  of  "love"  and  Lodge points  difficult  it  is  "dove" out, to  (IX, those  say  74),  "bliss"  who have  anything  like  and  "kiss"  (VI, 59)  tried to write rhymed what  they  mean;  8  the  chances are that "just as the stanza likes to make it / It needs must be," with or without the help of "Walker's Lexicon":  9  OTTAVA  RIM A:  A SURVEY / 6  The syllable with which we end our line Comes back to roost, a spiteful incubus, Subverting every sensible design, And on absurd goose-chases sending us, By way of Hesperus and Appenine, When all we want to do is to discuss The task of making any statement seem a Spontaneous thought in good ottava rima. The sheer degree of difficulty involved in writing rhymed verse should not be  forgotten  by  a  critic  of it. Most of the  prose  writer's  problems  must  be  solved by the writer of a verse narrative too; but the poet has in addition to these a highly stylized form and an increasingly determined diction and syntax to deal with. He must cope not only with the necessity for aptness of diction and metaphor,  for  variety  in style  and  story,  but  he  must  contend  as  much harder questions of plausibility, of how to make any sentence, restrictions, sound as if it could ever have been uttered—even  well  with  under these  when he is not  composing direct dialogue. The diction must be chosen in terms of an extremely artificial  rhyme  pattern,  as  10  well  stresses, and yet the whole utterance  as  the  slightly  unnatural  arrangement  of  must seem to flow through its transitions  as though it were the most simple and appropriate mode of expression. In  a  poem  of two  thousand-odd  ottava  rima  stanzas,  the  difficulty  finding adequate rhymes in the language is compounded. Also, rhyme and are not the  only restricting influences on the  stanzaic poet's ability  to  of  metre express  himself. He is forced, every eight lines, unless he very ruthlessly overrides  the  effects of the stanza, to make a new start. Over the eighty or so syllables of a single stanza, the  a kind of unity is imposed—even if this is merely the result of  surrounding  white  organized it may be  space. as  Obviously,  it reaches  human  thought,  however  verbal  and  consciousness, does not "naturally" take on  OTTAVA this  shape.  paragraphs,  Even  if  one  thinks  in  such  these will  not  all be  of the  RIMA:  organized  units  same length.  Both  A SURVEY / 7 as  sentences  prose  and  or  blank  verse have an ability to project a "natural" variability in the duration of ideas, which stanzaic verse strongly attempts to inhibit. Ottava rima is not the most difficult of the English stanzas to write: the sonnet  and  the  Spenserian  stanza  are  clearly more  complex. However, W. H .  Auden claimed he would "come a cropper" in it, choosing for his "Letter to Lord Byron" rhyme-royal instead. ballad  measure,  are  The traditional English narrative  11  relatively  undemanding,  being  conventional rhymes. Like all the more elaborate implications apart from the and  the  less  full  of  stanzas, thorn  such lines  forms, ottava rima has  as and  several  simple bracketting together of eight pentameter lines  simple enforcement  of certain  syllable ends  to  these  lines.  The  pattern of the rhymes is the stanza's exclusive signature. The first six lines have two rhymes, occurring alternately: ababab. The stanza is completed by a rhyming couplet which does not rhyme with any earlier line: cc. Thus, the most obvious structural feature is a break in continuity between lines 6 and 7. What one can further  deduce  from  certain progressive  this bare  facility  skeleton  which  the  is that the  couplet will  opening sestet will have  tend  to halt  and break  Alternate  rhyming causes an onward-pouring effect;  each line leans  onto  next  after  the  obviously  be  successive greater  in  line six  but  onto  the  lines  than  in  one its  that.  minimum  unit  This of  a  into.  forward not effect  will  four:  each  concluding syllable, a or b, is not merely echoed once but reinforced twice. The couplet rhyme, cc, will enter this pattern couplet of a  Spenserian  stanza,  which  as a total alien, unlike the concluding  rhymes  with  the. sixth line as  well  as  within itself and gives the whole a more interlaced effect. The rhyming of a line  OTTAVA with  its  rhyme  next  itself  neighbour more  binds  strongly  the  than  two  very  when  RIMA:  closely together,  the  chime  is  A SURVEY / 8 and  postponed.  points  The  the  rhymed  syllables are closer in time to the ear and closer in space to the eye; they tend to make  the  eye  and memory circle around  forward progression.  12  them, rather  to the  detriment of  The effect of this stanza on the flow of thought will most  likely be to allow a rush of narrative or description which is broken in on by a shorter,  more epigrammatic utterance,  whose tone is as different as the couplet  is  the  sonnet.  from  contrapuntal  quatrains  in an English  The form  would  lend itself  to a  discourse, an interplay of two voices, one expansive and the  other  more terse and reductive. Byron  did not invent this stanza.  The shape has  held a great deal of  content not at all like his. Ottava rima is, obviously, an Italian form; it was the stanza most commonly used for narrative poetry in Italy during the Renaissance. Although the earliest existing poem in this form is Boccaccio's Filostrato (1340), the  stanza  thirteenth  had  almost  century  for  certainly been both  lyrical  used  songs  by  and  minstrels  narratives.  as 14  It  far  back  was  as  used,  13  the after  Boccaccio, by Pulci, Boiardo, Ariosto, Tasso and a host of others for long written narratives and it was imported, with the sonnet and terza rima, into England by Wyatt and Surrey during the early part of the English Renaissance. the  eight-line stanza  Saintsbury,  has  in his History  been  15  However,  used surprisingly little in this language.  of English  Prosody,  finds "noteworthy" the  fact  "Chaucer, and still more Spenser, with the vast amount of ottava before used this actual form  so little."  16  that them,  Milton uses the form only for the last eight  lines  of Lycidas;  apart  from  Byron's three  more  modern occurrences  have  been  11  George  masterpieces  sparing too. Perhaps  in the the  measure,  most  its  memorable  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A SURVEY / 9  are Keats's troubling "Isabella" (based on a prose story from Boccaccio) renunciatory lyric, "Sailing to Byzantium," by W . B . Yeats. Saintsbury's vague and  slightly  explanation.  uneasy  and the  18  19  sense that this stanza's rareness is due to a foreign  quality  in  the  English  octave  is  inadequate  as  an  However, the Ottawa's neglect is not easy to account for and must  20  be ascribed to a number  of factors  spread  over several centuries.  The first is  Chaucer and his invention, in the face of Boccaccio's octave, of his beloved and influential  rhyme-royal.  This  seven-line  measure  resembles  ottava  rima  in  its  alternating beginning and its couplet ending, but, having two couplets, the first of which is immovably fixed to the  alternating quatrain, it exhibits a rather  more  gradual and organic transformation than does the octave. The second is Spenser, whose unique and stately neuvain offers another, large  narrative  stanza  contemporaneously potential Tasso's  career  with of  for The  the  emulation Faerie  English  by  more dignified  the  English  Queene, another  octave.  A  poets.  obstacle  translation  example of the  by  And  appeared  Edward  almost in  the  Fairfax  of  Gerusalemme liberata was printed in 1600—in English ottava rima, to be  sure—but  it  probably  set  measures.  Fairfax's talent  back was  the for  stanza  more  couplets, not  than octaves.  better  poems  His habit  in  other  of isolating  and pointing the last two lines of his stanzas fell, like a new tune, according to Saintsbury, "on ears, which, as we see from the result, were ready  to  hear."  21  This result was, of course, the extraordinary growth and popularity of the closed couplet,  which  dominated  English  poetry  for  nearly  two hundred  years,  to  the  detriment of all the stanza forms. The Romantic revival revived these forms and multiplied contribution  them; to  discovering and this  process.  For  re-energising the  first  ottava  time  in  rima  was  English,  the  Byron's octave  main was  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 10  inspired with a real passion which demanded and was reciprocally formed by the stanza's distinctive and  actual  shape.  But Byron's virtuosity did not  ottava rima with other poets. In the age that followed Don Juan, perhaps,  in the  decorous  and lyrical. The ottava had by now too much the  personality become  and  firmly  narrative  hands of Robert Browning—was to become  of his affixed  poetry  successfully  outrageous to  was  a  reputation;  (rather  digressive)  becoming less  for lyrical verse,  22  the  also, it  and  less  was  narrative prolific.  popularize  poetry—except,  increasingly serious, stamp a  form  mode  of a single which  had  in English,  and  Although it can be  used  octave is perhaps too antithetical a form for  the enchanted melancholies of Victorian poetry. But most importantly, Don Juan's strongest with  influence  rare  exceptions  nineteenth the  age.  was  not  such  on poetry as  Eugene  at  all, but  Onegin,  century, increasingly appropriated Though a  scrupulous  is  on the a  prose  novel. form  23  which,  the comic and narrative  analysis of certain  prose  This  paragraphs  genre, in  the  impulses of may  yield  some patterns that hark back to the ottava rima "counterpoint, the formal prosodic basis  of Byron's narrative  insouciance  and  ironic subversiveness  left  almost  no  observable trace on the literature. The history of ottava rima is hence largely an Italian history. But owing to differences  between  the  two languages,  the  stanza  is not quite the same in  Italian as it is in English. The Italian form is based on a syllabic line of eleven units and a feminine rhyme scheme. Because the ear does not distinguish eleven syllables as easily as the  five  stress-units  of English iambic pentameter, rhyme  in Italian (as in other Romance languages, important punctuating  function and  in  the  prosody.  distinguishing the  It lines  especially French) has  acts as  as units.  a  major  a much more  structural  Significantly,  the  feature, better  an  OTTAVA English  poet  mimics the  Italian  form,  the  more  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 11  comic and  conversational  his  poetry is likely to become. Feminine rhyme—and even triple rhyme—is not per se comic in Italian; in English it very nearly i s . " The Italian hendecasyllabic line usually contains five stresses, but the formal pattern some other number, and the arrangement  is not violated by four or  of these stresses does not have to be  regular. If the wonderful "singing" fluency of the Italian language it must  be, being inimitable—an English  poet  may  suggest the  using very loose iambic pentameter, without strong regard number  of the  relaxed  cadences  stresses.  This style  of spoken  prose,  lends at  itself  least  strict decasyllables which Byron had in the tradition. even  Clearly,  more  imitation in English  "novelistic" form  conception of the comic,  an  parodic,  than  the  to  it does  is  Italian line by  for the placement  imitation, in verse, against  the  of Italian  Italian,  ottava rima  according  to  the  of prosodic  would  be  an  M . M . Bakhtin's  ironic;"  the  colloquial  rhythms  ottava  rima  serves  of the  lines  would  very  nicely  as  a  novelistic  stylizing elements  added when English emulates  pattern  alone—alternating  progression  of rhymes the  dialogic imagination, as  demonstrate.  Pio Rajna,  writing  allow  it  to  more-or-less as it is spoken.  26  without any of the  stanza  of  novel. Feminine rhyme would make the verse potentially more  Nevertheless,  for  or  background of  preceding two centuries  contain "the low language of contemporanaeity"  sufficient  ignored—as  some  followed of the  on Ariosto,  by  Italian. The  couplet  Italian  claims that  medium  closure—is  masters  of this  "Fottava" is  a  "coat cut on [the Italian narrative's] back," and that precisely because it fits so well, it translates uneasily into other languages. may be  a  refutation  deserves  attention.  of the  latter  27  part of this  Byron's achievement in English claim; however, the  first  part  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 12  A brief scrutiny of - Italian narrative reveals that the octave is a stretchy garment. "It's  These poems, like Don Juan,  what  one has  looked  seem  for in vain,"  able to contain almost anything.  writes Virginia  style, a little enviously: "an elastic shape which to put in it."  Woolf  of Don  Juan's  will hold whatever you choose  Ottava rima has been employed for everything from the serious  28  epic intentions of Tasso to Pulci's at times hilarious, Rabelaisian humour, apart from  its  non-narrative  employment  known as the rispetto. Also, the  in  the  Tuscan  version  of  the  strambotto,  range of modes and tones—sentimental, ironic,  comic, tragic—that can be contained in one poem (for example, Orlando furioso), is  remarkable. The Italian medley poem, or romance epic, is not  Bakhtin's standards because of this very variety. is  serious, as it is for example in Ariosto's  love,  it  30  is  characteristically serious  29  an  Even when this type of poem  story of Isabella and her  only  for  seriousness were only one among many other  epic by  a  time,  responses  ill-fated  provisionally,  to  the  world,  as  if  tragedy  only one among infinite patterns of events, which will be, in the multivalency of plot  and  mourner  character, alike.  forgotten—at  These  poems  least,  partake  in of  its that  first  poignancy—by reader  "novelization"  process  and  Bakhtin  describes thus:  They become more free and flexible, their language renews itself by incorporating extraliterary heteroglossia and the "novelistic" layers of literary language, they become dialogized, permeated with laughter, irony, humor, elements of self-parody and finally—this is the most important thing—the novel inserts into [them] an indeterminacy, a certain semantic openendedness, a living contact with unfinished, still-evolving contemporary reality (the openended present). 31  That  the  stanza  is  an  important  factor  in  this  process  can  be  demonstrated by looking first at its usage by the one poet in the tradition who  OTTAVA desired  most  antithetical  passionately  structure  to  write  of ottava rima  a  true  epic:  lends itself  to  RIMA:  Torquato a more  A S U R V E Y / 13 Tasso.  Now  self-reflexive  the  stance  than might be desirable in high epic, whose language, according to Bakhtin, "is not separable from its subject."  32  Perhaps Dante recognized this when, instead of  taking up the octave for his Commedia, Certainly Tasso's own uneasiness  with his work reflects  was dialogic rather than monolithic. to  assert  the  "unity"  he  he invented the continuous terza  33  desired  rima.  a consciousness that it  As Robert M . Durling argues, this inability over  the  "multiplicity"  he  feared  was  a  projection of Tasso's "innermost difficulties": Tasso's struggle for the "unity of his own  psyche."  34  The second voice brought in by the couplet of ottava rima cannot  be completely overridden throughout the did  course of an epic-length poem.  not distort the stanza of Gerusalemme  and  it only  too often  brings  Fairfax  liberata out of all recognition in his  translation: the couplet is characteristically set Tasso,  35  in a  a little apart from the  consciousness  sestet in  of craftsmanship  when it is not used directly for commentary:  E i ch'al cimiero ed al dipinto scudo non bado prima, or lei veggend impietra; ella quanto pud meglio i l capo ignudo si ricopre, e l'assale; ed ei s'arretra. V a contra gli altri, a rota i l ferro crudo; ma pero da lei pace non impetra, che minacciosa i l segue, e "Volgi" grida; e di due morti in uno punto lo sfida. 36  The  prince well knew her, though her painted shield And golden hair he had not marked before; She sav'd her head and with her axe, well steel'd, Assail'd the knight: but her the knight forbore; 'Gainst other foes he prov'd him through the field, Yet she for that refrained ne'er the more, But following, Turn thee, cried in ireful wise And so at once she threats to kill him twice. 37  even  OTTAVA Here, as elsewhere, "prince"  Tasso reserves  (Tancredi) is falling  for the  in love with  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 14  couplet his play of verbal wit. The Clorinda,  the  beautiful  paynim  with  whom he is at war; hence, in Petrarchan terms, she is assailing him with two kinds of weapon at once. Wordplay accentuates the effect that the movement of the  couplet so often  has  in any case:  a circling back over previously travelled  ground, a differing tempo, a crescendo whose quality is slightly different from the impetus which carried it there. If, in the epic world, "it is impossible to change, to rethink, to re-evaluate  anything in i t , "  38  this stanza  is clearly not the ideal  form for epic. Tasso comes late in the comic potential of the  stanza.  tradition, and he resists He must  be regarded,  as far  as  possible  the  for all his mellifluousness,  as something of an oddity. His poem has been and will continue to be read for its romantic and pathetic passages, not for the high seriousness  of its ideals or  of  from its  the  war that embodies  beginnings, it seems,  them.  The ottava rima  tradition has  contained strong comic and parodic elements.  In the  naive early  songs of the cantastories, according to R. D. Waller, The world of chivalry was vulgarized, reduced to the level of the bourgeois imagination. Charles the Great becomes a credulous simpleton. Rinaldo is the favourite hero, his valour being accompanied by a boisterous unruliness which appealed much more directly to the popular taste than the always grave conduct of Orlando. Fixed in tradition too became the character of Astolfo, the English knight, feather-brained, boastful and maladroit. Through all the stories runs not only that unconscious humour which results from the incongruity of matter and treatment, but a vein of deliberate fun which crops up here and there in the form of plain buffoonery. The knights are but artisans in armour; there is very little magic; prodigious deeds are performed by very ordinary men. Of the splendid old stories of Charlemagne and Roland there is little left but the names. 39  "Novelization"  of this  kind  was  possible,  and  the  changes  rapid,  because  the  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 15  cantastories' performance was essentially, like the commedia dell'arte, an improvised medium. Although the bare stories were conventional and large portions learned by rote, the treatment was continually altered to suit individual audiences. Also, the  poems contained addresses to the  audience by convention, especially at  the  ends of cantos, where the crowd was often exhorted to return next day for the sequel.  40  This  fictiveness  of  device the  need  narrative  not  be  comic  and  is  an  exactly,  example  but  of the  it  does  point  up  self-reflexiveness  the  which  would in later works be called Romantic irony. Luigi  Pulci,  the  Florentine who  took  stanza in the fifteenth century, is perhaps  up  and  transformed  the  minstrel  the most comic poet in the tradition,  and this may be why, as an extreme, he was a revelation to Frere and Byron. Using and exaggerating the buffoonery of subject-matter  already in the tradition,  he was, unlike his predecessors, a written poet as well as a performer, and his works were printed and published. ottava rima,  though this is not  41  His ironic humour extends to his use of the  not as  skilful  as  that of his great  Ferrarese  successor, Ludovico Ariosto. In Pulci's long poem, Morgante, many stanzas occur in which the joke is made or clinched in the couplet. I choose to quote one of these from  the  first canto because  this was all that Byron translated  and his  translation is worth using. However, in this particular example, Byron's stanza is less true to type than Pulci's, for it enjambs the discreteness it has in the Italian:  line 6, denying his couplet quite  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A SURVEY  / 16  Disse i l gigante:—Io i l porterd ben io, da poi che portar me non ha voluto per render ben per fnal, come far Iddio; ma vo' ch'a porlo adosso mi dia aiuto.— Orlando gli dicea:—Morgante mio, s'al mio consiglio ti sarai attenuto, questo caval tu non vel porteresti, che ti fara come tu a lui facesti. 42  The  giant said, "Then carry him I will, Since that to carry me he was so s l a c k To render, as the gods do, good for i l l ; But lend a hand to place him on my back." Orlando answer'd, "If my counsel still May weigh, Morgante, do not undertake To lift or carry this dead courser, who As you have done to him, will do to you." 43  (The giant, Morgante, has just broken the horse's back by riding on it.) Pulci's humour  is, however,  frequently  more  dependent  on his  fantastic  subject-matter  and its slapstick behaviour than on the structure of his stanza. Ariosto,  writing  somewhat  later,  in the  early  sixteenth  century,  is  the  Italian maestro of this style. Using the enchanted landscape and unfinished story bequeathed  him by Boiardo in Orlando innamorato,  Ariosto provides them not so  much with comic incidents (though he does use these) as with a carefully crafted double  consciousness—a  quietly  ironic  voice which  comments  on  the  narrative,  points up its incongruities, apologises for lapses in taste, explains its reasons moving  from  one  thread  of  story  to  another  at  certain  times  and  for  exposes  characters' inner motives, which the bare narrative does not perhaps immediately demonstrate.  For his dialogic imagination, the octave stanza is the ideal medium.  Orlando furioso is a masterpiece and form,  structure  because  and sentiment  at all levels of its composition, matter  are perfectly suited one to another.  A critic  does not have to search very far to come up with a stanza like the following:  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 17  —Astolfo, re de'Langobardi, quellea cui lascid i l fratel monaco i l regno, fu ne la giovinezza sua si bello, che mai poch'altri giunsero a quel segno. N'avria a fatica un tal fatto a penello Apelle, o Zeusi, o se v'e alcun piu degno. Bello era, et a ciuscun cos! parea: ma di molto egli ancor piu si tenea. — 44  'Astolfo, of the Lombard kingdom heir, After the monk, his elder brother, died, Was in his youth so handsome and so fair That few with him in beauty could have vied; Not Zeuxis nor Apelles could compare With all their art, however hard they tried. Handsome he was and so by all was deemed, But he more highly yet himself esteemed.' 45  This is in several ways typical of Ariosto. The most distinctive structural  feature  of his stanza is the most obvious characteristic of the bare paradigm: the change in tone in lines 7 and 8, where the new couplet rhyme brings in the  author's  comment, with its sly joke at the protagonist's expense. However, another, more minor division occurs in the middle of the  stanza, which seems to be Ariosto's  private signature, appearing with high frequency  in the stanzas  at the ends of  cantos in which the authorial voice is most in evidence. What this feature  does  is to bring a subtle tone of irony into the last two lines of the narrative sestet, in  order perhaps  to make  the  tone of the  couplet, with its  strong irony  and  alien rhyme, less disjunct from what goes before. (Byron does this occasionally in Don Juan,  but the device is not with him, as with Ariosto, characteristic.) ' 4  When Byron first read Orlando furioso is not known. early and important experience, for Ariosto's beginning  of his private writings, though  name  47  It was probably an  crops up casually from  representing  more  a  the  significant type  OTTAVA than a poet who invited imitation. describes  his  mother,  in  a  letter  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 18  When the eighteen-year-old  48  to  a  friend,  as  Byron flippantly  " M r s . Byron  furiosa,"  and  soliloquizes: "Oh! for the pen of an Ariosto to rehearse in Epic, the scolding of that momentous Eve,"*  9  directly  intentional.  his desire must be taken as unconsciously prophetic,  Despite  the  urbane  and  witty  humour  Byron's  not  letters  demonstrate from the beginning, his early forays into the realm of comic poetry are  rather  narrowly  and  spitefully  satirical, betraying  nowhere  that  essential  tolerance and ability to laugh with folly which are at the heart of Italian comic verse.  Many  years  were  to  pass before  his  more  generous  sense  of  humour  would find a poetic form that suited it. However, Byron's attempts at neo-classical satire in imitation of his idol, Pope, do demonstrate a certain facility with the closed couplet, which was  later  to stand him in good stead in the clinching of the octave stanza. A couplet like the following would not have shamed an Augustan poet: Shall gentle Coleridge pass unnoticed here, To turgid ode and tumid stanza dear? 50  But  the  capability, over-used  somewhat their  stagey  carefully  inversions  ("To  rhetoric pointed  of these  parallelisms  turgid ode  . .  lines, with ("turgid  . dear")  51  .  their .  .  were  limited tumid")  not likely  narrative and  to lead  young writer toward the discovery of a new and vital poetic voice. Byron more  innovative  Bowman gains  its  with  the  Piper calls the forward  more  "open"  version  "Romance couplet."  momentum  not  rhyming of lexically weak words  52  so  much  In  of  the  couplet  which  Byron's hands this  from  strong  their  was  William  form  enjambment  a  or  often the  as from the sheer excitement of the situation,  which forces the reader to utter the lines with great speed. Byron's rhymes  are  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 19  almost always strong and most commonly involve important words such as verbs and nouns. The dramatic—perhaps is  what  overrides  the  melodramatic—intensity of the following  limiting effect  composed and encourages  of the  the passage, as  two-line segments  poetry  of which  it is  Auden notes of all Byron's verse,  to  be "read very rapidly, as if the words were single frames in a movie f i l m . "  (I  need to quote at some length to demonstrate the  53  effect.)  Cold as the marble where his length was laid, Pale as the beam that o'er his features play'd Was L a r a stretch'd; his half-drawn sabre near, Dropp'd it should seem in more than nature's fear; Yet he was firm, or had been firm till now, And still defiance knit his gather'd brow; Though mix'd with terror, senseless as he lay, There lived upon his lip the wish to slay; Some half-form'd threat in utterance there had died, Some imprecation of despairing pride; His eye was almost seal'd, but not forsook, Even in its trance, the gladiator's look, That oft awake his aspect could disclose, And now was fix'd in horrible repose. 54  Byron's pentameter  narration  couplets,  was  more  mainly because  successful the  terrific tales which, with Childe Harold's more  easily  breathlessly varies  the  occasionally, appealed  be one  represented after  tetrameter even  to Scott,  another. couplet  pentameter 57  Like with  immense Pilgrimage,  shorter  lines  tetrameter and  than  tumbling  with  speed  couplets.  whose  rhymes  follow  alternate  The  rhymes,  "latitude"  of  thorn  more Byron  55  lines  style,  lends itself admirably to Byron's requirements,  even  56  the  made him so popular, could  Scott, from whom he borrowed i t , triplets,  these of  this  most volcanic of his moods:  -3  by  with  and, which  to  the  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 20  Who thundering comes on blackest steed, With slacken'd bit and hoof of speed? Beneath the clattering iron's sound The cavern'd echoes wake around In lash for lash, and bound for bound; The foam that streaks the courser's side Seems gather'd from the ocean-tide: Though weary waves are laid to rest, There's none within his rider's breast; And though tomorrow's tempest lower, 'Tis calmer than thy heart, young Giaour!  58  These  lines represent  from- which the him.  an  discussed  I  am  which  by  Peter  virtuosity, in the  Byron  doing?—it is  experiences  a  sense  exhilaration  is  strenuously  conforms  of  highly  They  S9  wrote  himself  difficult!"; being  the  liberate  it is prior  are  and  to  the  not self-reflexive;  voice which says clearly and analytically: "See but  "carried  dependant to  sense that  Conrad in Shandyism.  they do not contain a narrative what  into  discovery—or rediscovery—of the Italian masters was to  They exhibit a primary  variety  impasse  on  metre.  they  are  away"  strong The  rhapsodic  by  rhyme  four-beat  a  and  poetic  and line  on  their  reader  utterance  whose  rhythm  which  a  offers  little  room  for  grammatical superfluities: metrical stresses strike lexical stresses in words whose structural anyway,  importance falls  in  on words  a  line  whose  is  marked.  influence  Rhyme,  on the  which  increases  stress  sentence is formative. Byron's  impasse was this poetic brilliance. His sentences are utterly lucid; he shies away from  symbolism  and  verbal  ambiguity.  His  most  memorable  utterances  are  categorical statements, his plots, tales of extremity. Seldom in blank verse do his lines  acquire  structures  inspired  of prosody are  development repetition.  the  would The  be  "Turkish  beauty  of  foregrounded possible tales,"  in  his  rhymed  verse,  60  and all work in the this  Manfred,  mode,  no  in  of  all  the  same direction. No  complexity,  Cain—most  which  only  Byron's  endless romantic  OTTAVA narratives—all  tell  fundamentally  Outsider. The escape  the  same  story:  RIMA: The  A S U R V E Y / 21  Doom  of  the  Dark  was to be not so much into a different story as into a  metalanguage which drew attention to the speaker and his relationship, firstly, to his protagonist and, later, to his reader escape  was made possible, at  and the act of composition itself. This  least partly, by Byron's  discovery of new  verse  forms. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage  is a significant work for this discussion because  its composition spanned the period of impasse and changed in its progress over it. Byron's Spenserian stanzas have been slighted by critics who prefer Don Juan to Childe Harold; rima, and  61  and yet this form, more interlaced and elaborate than ottava  is admirably suited to—perhaps protagonist  different  are  not  definitively  is formative of—a separated.  Childe  poem whose Harold  in its two halves, the first being less self-reflexive;  is,  narrator  of  course,  the earlier part is  an attempt at a kind of anachronistic mediaevalism, in which an older narrator, using words such as "wight" and "Whilome"" traces, with some disapproval, the travels  and  sorrows  couplet causes decoration"  63  of a  young ex-debauchee.  ironies like the  following  Byron's  to break  mastery  through  of the  even the  closed  "arabesque  of the Spenserian's final hexameter:  Deep in yon cave Honorius long did dwell, In hope to merit Heaven by making life a hell.  64  However, Spenser's adaptation of the octave seems to have been made partly in order to remove the jarring ironic note of unconnected couplets. He made similar adjustments  to the English sonnet, though not to connect up the couplet in this  case, but to twine together the three otherwise disjunct quatrains. Queene  stanza,  the  rhyme  scheme,  ababbcbcc,  clearly  allows  65  In The Faerie local  affinities  OTTAVA between  lines  to  take  on  the  segments, etc.,  according to their  discreteness  any  above  is  to  of these  appearance sense; but  units.  seldom possible. Stanzas  66  of  need  couplets,  the  Hence,  the  to be  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 22  quatrains,  terza  rima  overriding pattern denies  total  epigrammatic  quoted  in their  irony displayed entirety  to give  even local effect: Childe Harold sail'd, and pass'd the barren spot, Where sad Penelope o'erlook'd the wave; And onward view'd the mount, not yet forgot, The lover's refuge, and the Lesbian's grave. Dark Sappho! could not verse immortal save That breast imbued with such immortal fire? Could she not live who life eternal gave? If life eternal may await the lyre, That only Heaven to which earth's children may aspire.  The main semantic division in this stanza occurs between the  couplet rhyme ("grave . . . save")  67  lines 4 and 5,  heals up the hiatus created  where  by the  full  stop. Thus the neuvain operates very much as a unit, wandering down from the factual  first  line,  through  metaphysical hexameter  historical objectivity  and  focus—from  Harold to Sappho—but  the  who  "sail'd,"  as  well.  the  highly  However, the  a shift occurs, not merely of  of subjectivity. To begin with,  "pass'd"  recognition of the "lover's refuge him  to  which closes it. Somehow, in this lingering progress, with  its pauses for apostrophe and rhetorical question,  agent  speculation,  and  "view'd  and the  increasing  the  mount";  at  the  Childe is  first  blush,  Lesbian's grave" appears to belong to  absorption  of the  discourse  in  Sappho's  elegiac significance, and also the categorical generalization of the last line, convey a more authoritative poem. The contrast relationship between  voice than Harold, with his posturing, can command in this between the rhyming words "grave" and "save" hints at  the  Harold's and the narrator's view. The authorial second half  OTTAVA of  the  stanza,  suggests,  more  deeply  in its rhyme  involved  with  RIMA:  Sappho's  words, a resurrection  about  A S U R V E Y / 23  dilemma  which  the  than  the  first,  overt rhetoric is  ambiguous: "save . . . fire . . . gave . . . lyre . . . aspire." The final line is, as  Byron  weight  almost  the  always employs it, heavily climactic,  hopes  of  immortality  implied  by  underpinning with  these  rhyme  words  sheer  and  the  cumulative progression of sentences. Six years separate the first two cantos of Childe Harold two,  and Byron continued writing the last after  while he was composing Beppo.  The far  he had read  from the second "Whistlecraft" and  higher quality of the  poetry  in these  last two cantos is marked simultaneously by the frequent  appearance of a highly  personal  "I" speaker  use  stanza.  The  long  stanza  an  increasingly individual  unit  of  demonstrates.  In  the  moves—be  it a  A t the  same  thought.  asks  later  cantos,  for the  Byron  of the  Spenserian  elaboration  and  meandering of the takes  far  greater  mid-line pauses, even run-on stanzas," and he completes  transformation of the final hexameter  stanza  thought  up to and away from an idea—as  liberties with enjambment, his  by  nine-line  digression—movement last-quoted  and  into a climax towards which the whole  ponderous  crescendo  time,  more  a  the  internal tightening or circling of the stanza's middle couplet, removing thereby  the  more  stand-and-turn strongly  routine  downward  stanzas on St. Peter's hexameter  into  of the the  frequently  long trailing elegiac train of cavalierly overrides  stately  he  or  Spenserian concluding  and  dance,  and  alexandrine.  drawing the The  sense  following  two  Cathedral are run together syntactically so that the  first  is merely a provisional climax, while the second takes the pressure of  a full eighteen lines. The middle couplets of both are overruled by being on the one  hand  enjambed  at  both ends and on the  other  formed by a  rhyme  of a  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 24  lexically stressed with a lexically unstressed syllable ("this . . . edifice"): Thou see'st not all; but piecemeal thou must break To separate contemplation, the great whole; And as the ocean many bays will make That ask the eye—so here condense thy soul To more immediate objects, and control Thy thoughts until thy mind hath got by heart Its elegant proportions, and unroll In mighty graduations, part by part, The glory which at once upon thee did not dart, Not by its fault—but thine: Our outward sense Is but of gradual grasp—and as it is That what we have of feeling most intense Outstrips our faint expression; even so this Outshining and o'erwhelming edifice Fools our fond gaze, and greatest of the great Defies at first our nature's littleness, Till, growing with its growth, we thus dilate Our spirits to the size of that they contemplate.  .  68  At  the  climax of the poem, narrator  and reader,  sharing the dilation of spirit  that this stanza signifies, become one in the plural pronoun, "our." This poetry is far  from  comic: its tone and subject-matter  approach  the  sublime. Even the isolated ironies which mark some couplets in the earlier cantos have gone. The speaker has dispensed with a protagonist and identifies so closely with  his  grandeur  utterance of the  that  verse  the  itself  poetry is what  has  become  expands  its  own  subject-matter;  our "spirits to the  the  size of that  they contemplate." St. Peter's dome is a metaphor for the power of this inspired poetry rather than vice-versa. No room remains for humour here: the speaker is too closely bound into his own speech. And yet, for all this, the tone of the last cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage is closer to that of Don Juan note  struck  structure  by  the  earlier  instead of galloping  tales.  The  stanzas  along transparently  above parallel  brood to  than to any  upon the  their  galloping  own tale  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 25  that they tell. With only a little "opening up" of the distances between and  protagonist,  Byron  changed  between from  narrative  the  poet  15,  1817,  and  of  the  ironic  structures  brooding  in the  Childe  to  the  stanza poet  narrator chosen, of  the  life-affirming Don. On  September  Byron  wrote  irritably  to  his  publisher  from  Venice and brought to a head the dissatisfaction evident in many earlier letters. He  feels that he has  written enough—nay,  for  him poetically (perhaps):  too much—and that this is the end  —The other day I wrote to convey my proposition with regard to the 4th & concluding Canto [of Childe Harold}—I have gone over—& extended it to one hundred and fifty stanzas which is almost as long as the first two were originally—& longer by itself—than any of the smaller poems except the "Corsair"—Mr. Hobhouse has made some very valuable & accurate notes of considerable length—& you may be sure I will do for the text all that I can to finish with decency.—I look upon C[hild]e Harold as my best—and as I began—I think of concluding with it—but I make no resolutions on that head—as I broke my former intention with regard to "the Corsair"—however—I fear that I shall never do better—& yet—not being thirty years of age for some moons to come—one ought to be progressive as far as Intellect goes for many a good year—but I have had a devilish deal of wear & tear of mind and body—in my time—besides having published too often & much already. God grant me some judgement! to do what may be most fitting in that & everything else—for I doubt my own exceedingly. — 69  In the same letter, he asserts: With regard to poetry in general I am convinced the more I think of it—that he [Leigh Hunt] and all of us—Scott—Southey—Words w o r t h Moore—Campbell—I—are all in the wrong—one as much as another—that we are upon a wrong revolutionary poetical system—or systems—not worth a damn in itself. 70  Only  a  month  later,  after  a  visit  from  although he did not bring tooth-powder  as  his  friend  requested,  71  Douglas  Kinnaird,  did bring the  first  who, two  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 26  cantos of the newly published "Whistlecraft" poem, Byron writes: I have . . . written a poem (of 84 octave stanzas) humourous, in or after the excellent manner of M r . Whistlecraft (whom I take to be Frere), on a Venetian anecdote—which amused me—but till I have your answer—I can say nothing more about it.—Mr. Hobhouse does not return to England in Novr. as he intended, but will perhaps winter here—and as he is to convey the poem or poems—for there may perhaps be more than the two mentioned . . . I shall not be able to publish so soon— 72  The  octave  poem  composition  and  to  which  immediate  he  refers  success  is, in  of  course,  England  Beppo,  led  whose  soon  ease of  after  to  the  commencement of Don Juan,  which, though it grew in the writing, was begun in  much  remains  the  same  spirit  and  in  many  ways  very  similar.  These  two  poems, with The Vision of Judgement which was written in 1821 while he was working  on  Cantos III,  I V and  V of Don Juan,  constitute  Byron's canon of  "half-serious" (IV, 6) ottava rima poetry. Many critics consider these three poems to represent his greatest poetic achievement. Surprising, in the  light of Byron's distinct "discovery" of this stanza, is  the fact that he had, in fact, used it before. had  only just  left England amid the  accompanying  scandal,  ("Stanzas  the  to  Byron  Po" is  wrote  another)  In 1816, in Switzerland, when he  73  storms  one  of his nuptial separation  of his  in the  form  rare  and its  personal-confessional  of a  letter  to  his  lyrics  half-sister,  Augusta Leigh—and its stanza was ottava rima. He may have stumbled on this verse-form stanzas.  by  mistake,  being in the  However, his favoured  rhyme-scheme  ababcdcd. * 1  habit  octaves  Non-narrative  at  this  stage  of writing eight-line  normally had tetrameter and  contemplative,  the  lines and "Epistle  the to  Augusta" does not betray any obvious influence of Ariosto or Tasso, whom Byron knew by this time.  75  Though much more subdued in tone, the "Epistle" resembles  OTTAVA Childe  Harold  in the  later cantos  more than  same kinds of freedom with enjambment highly  personal  writer-reader  "I"  form  of  RIMA:  anything else, for it displays  and caesurae,  address.  However,  relationship apparent in the  A S U R V E Y / 27  and the narrator  the  more  epistolary mode  kind of confessional self-irony that Childe Harold's  narrator  uses a  clearly  defined  allows Byron never  here  and encourages  a  achieves. (He  can ironize Harold, but not himself.) The true couplet at the end of the accommodates  the  stanza  this tone:  If my inheritance of storms hath been In other elements, and on the rocks Of perils, overlook'd and unforeseen, I have sustain'd my share of worldly shocks, The fault was mine; nor do I seek to screen M y errors with defensive paradox; I have been cunning in my overthrow, The careful pilot of my proper woe. 76  Not all the lines  as  stanzas of the  this  "Epistle" are  pointed as  distinctly in the  one, but this is a good example, being an extreme,  last  two  of how  the  couplet can work, in the very clarifying of an idea, essentially against that idea. Throwing  it  into  different,  circling  incisive vision far  sharp  relief  movement  and  of what the  more contrapuntal  rather an  than  simply summarizing, bringing in  alien rhyme,  this  couplet  is  a  new  and  sestet slowly and regretfully develops. The effect  than  the  Spenserian stanza;  two voices are  audible  a  is  here,  even though the poem is both serious and meditative. The  poem  which  Byron  correctly ascribed  to John  Hookham Frere  was  entitled Prospectus and Specimen of an Intended National  Work, and its authorship  was  Stow-Market in  claimed  Harness Interesting  and  by  William  and  Collar-Makers.  Particulars  Robert Further,  Relating to  King  Whistlecraft it  of  "Intended  Arthur  and  to His  Comprise Round  Suffolk,  the  Most  Table."  11  Not  OTTAVA surprisingly, published  the  under  new  work  one  acquired  of them,  nicknames  The Monks  and  RIMA:  almost the  at  A SURVEY once,  Giants.  and  This  / 28  is  now  poem,  as  a  twentieth-century editor, R. D . Waller explains, takes its inspiration directly from the Italian comic poets, in particular, from Pulci. "Perhaps the most  remarkable  of Frere's gifts," writes Waller, "was his extraordinary talent for reproducing in English the  spirit of other  literatures."  78  The poem was a revelation to Byron;  he adopted at once so many aspects of "Whistlecraft"'s style and execution that he  actually became  embarrassed  by  them.  Waller  claims: " A s time  went  on  Byron began to depreciate more and more the immediate source of his style in Beppo"; ' ascribing it instead to "Whistlecraft"'s own source, Pulci, whom he read 7  in  the  Frere.  original Nearly  only  after  all the  the jolt of consciousness  characteristic  features  had  been  of The Monks  administered  and  the  stanza, its conversational familiarity, its digressiveness, its frequent and  feminine  rhyme—at  once  became  Byron's  everything Frere did, Byron did better—and never  have  developed  ventured.  sense  of  possibilities of stanza letters  prove  discovery  to  be  Also,  Byron's  literary form  decorum, and the  essentially  of "Whistlecraft" to  his his  knowledge  practised  urbane,  use of comic  though,  of this  of  indisputably,  Ariosto,  instinct  irreverent,  own, contribute mastery  Giants—its  took to extremes which Frere would  prior his  own,  by  at  for  his  the  highly  uses  and  digressive wit that his least  style.  The  equally  with  the  and  the  Monks  Giants was a catalyst at an important moment in Byron's career. A stanza like the  following  will demonstrate  to anyone familiar  with Beppo or Don Juan  the  extent of Byron's debt. Nevertheless, this verse is an extreme example for Frere, the  lines being less  strongly end-stopped  and containing more  parentheses  usual, whereas it would be rather a stiff and decorous stanza for Byron:  than  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 29  I think that Poets (whether Whig or Tory) (Whether they go to meeting or to church) Should study to promote their country's glory With patriotic, diligent research; That children yet unborn may learn the story, With grammars, dictionaries, canes and birch: It stands to reason—This was Homer's plan, And we must do—like him—the best we can. 80  That the new idea—Homer—enters structure,  in  the  couplet,  could  comparison in which Homer is that it explodes the now  been  elaborate, adjustments)  not  humour  feminine  have  escaped  allowed to  whole verse,  generating the  the stanza with perfect appropriateness  his  appearance  whose overencoded  by  rhyme  make  Byron's classical  the  sort  .  glory"  "Tory  .  .  of  eye.  has  distortion. was  The  is so inflated  meticulousness  opposite  to its  up  to  Comically  borrowed  (with  by Byron for use in one of the more successful couplets of Beppo: And greatly venerate our recent glories, And wish they were not owing to the Tories.  81  With careful attention to the formal paradigm, Frere's sestet moves one way, his couplet  another;  and  yet  a  sleight  of  hand,  "It  stands  to  reason,"  keeps  expectation riveted, during the first part of the couplet, on the sestet's mode of diminution. And so the Homeric hyperbole is planted under cover, going off with pleasing unexpectedness Of dependent  course, on  the  for the  there  are  stanza  reader. many  per  se.  aspects Like  of  Pulci,  Frere's he  style  creates  which an  are  not  unruly  and  rumbustious story whose developments are largely independent of the stanza it is narrated is  indeed  with. He is more digressive than his Italian models and this tendency encouraged  by  the  dialogic  stanza  (digressiveness  being  a  larger  OTTAVA development  of the  RIMA:  couplet's capacity for commentary).  A SURVEY  However, his  / 30  digressions  mainly occur at the beginnings and ends of cantos and seem to derive from the conventions of hail and farewell which go with oral poetry. different  oral tradition, uses similar conventions in a very different  and story.  82  its  elegiac  lyric,  Scott, mimicking a verse  form  Ottava rima is also much more versatile than Frere was to realize; and  satiric potentialities  he  hardly tapped  at  all, despite  the  examples of Tasso, Boiardo and even Ariosto. What Frere did for Byron was to caricature the Italian masters: to take the most eccentric, slapstick and vulgar of their  canon—all  that  Byron—and translate of  was  least  like  the  poetic  models  normally  available  it into English verse that contained many of the  Byron's own epistolary  style: an  easy  colloquial familiarity,  a  ingredients  digressiveness  and a self-irony for which there were but few literary examples in the tradition. He opened a window for Byron complex and versatile poets than  the  tradition  experimentation greatest  English  with  by its  proponent  stops on his instrument, its  tone  means  perhaps  more  subtler and  of  its  them, was extreme  harmonies, innovator.  to  contains  more  than  not slow to draw himself  case, establish  In Don Juan  using it seriously as often  English  Pulci. Byron, who already knew some of the  best of these without desiring to emulate into  into a tradition which  to  any  then,  himself he  draws  in  by it out  rapid as  its  all the  well as humorously and varying  previous  Swinburne, who uses a more warlike metaphor  and  than  performer.  According  to  I do and who may be a  trifle partial,  It is mere folly to seek in English or Italian verse a precedent or a parallel. The scheme of metre is Byron's alone; no weaker hand could ever bend that bow, or ever will. Even the Italian poets, working in a language more flexible and ductile than ours, could never turn their native metre to such uses, could never handle their national weapon  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 31  with such grace and strength. The terza rima remains their own, after all our efforts to adapt it; it bears here only forced flowers and crude fruits; but the ottava rima Byron has fairly conquered and wrested from them. 83  NOTES TO C H A P T E R I ^ l a n d Barthes calls pari of the space of books "methodological field" and a and "only exists in the Image-Music-Text (New York: 'Barthes  the "work" a "fragment of substance occupying a (in a library for example)." The "Text" he calls a "process of demonstration"; it is "held in language" movement of discourse." "From Work to Text," H i l l and Wang, 1977) 156-57.  163.  See Gerald Prince, Narratology (Berlin: Mouton, 1982) 32: "It is practically impossible to narrate a series of events without establishing a set of temporal or temporally bound relationships between narration and narrated . . . . On the other hand, it is quite possible to narrate without specifying any relationship between the space of the narration and the space of the narrated." Prince is, of course, referring to the narrator and the narrative, rather than to the reader here. 3  "Gerard Genette, Narrative Discourse (Ithaca: Cornell U P , 1980) 34. G . W. F . Hegel, The Philosophy of Fine Art, I V (London: Bell and Sons, 1920). In the section entitled "The Expression of Poetry," Hegel claims that poetry, unlike other fine arts, is composed of material which, in its normal usage, is incorporeal, "an abstract sign simply" (56). The nature and genius of poetry—as of other arts—is to make the observer aware simultaneously of the truth being told and of the material employed in the imparting of this truth. Hegel decides that poetry has more in common with music than with the visual arts. It must, through stylization of its sound, foreground its form: "the sounding word, which in its temporal duration no less than its actual sound, must receive a definite configuration, one that implies the presence of time-measure, rhythm, melodious sound and rhyme" (57). Also, Rene Wellek and Austin Warren, Theory of Literature (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1949) 159; Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Poetic Closure (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1968) 8-14; Donald Wesling, The Chances of Rhyme (Berkeley: U of California P, 1980) 54. 5  'Herrnstein Smith 10.  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 32  'Canto and stanza of Don Juan will be noted in the text throughout this dissertation. The edition used is Byron's Don Juan: A Variorum Edition, eds. Truman Guy Steffan and Willis W. Pratt (Austin: U of Texas P, 1957). 'David Lodge, The Modes of Modern Writing (London: Edward Arnold, 1977) 89. Lodge goes on to claim that the power of metre and rhyme to make a poet "say something that he would not otherwise have thought of saying" is "rarely admitted, as though there were something shameful about it." Beppo lxiii, 1926) 620, 619. 9  Iii, The Poetical Works  of Lord Byron  (London: Oxford U P ,  Wesling writes: " A s the reader gets further into the sequence, more and more elements of the discourse become determined" (71). The artificiality of rhymed verse seems to him most evident in the fact that "we positively avoid rhyme in ordinary speaking and practical writing" (28). 10  W . H . Auden, Faber, 1937) 22. n  "Epistle to  Lord  Byron,"  Letters from Iceland (London:  See Herrnstein Smith: "There is good reason to believe that a rhymed couplet, when it corresponds to a syntactically complete utterance, is, in itself, an effectively closed form" (51). See also Wesling 77, and this dissertation, chapter II, note 18. 12  See Ernest Hatch Wilkins, A History of Italian Literature (Cambridge: Harvard U P , 1974) 102, 104. Filostrato tells the story of Troilus and Cressida, which is largely Boccaccio's invention (103). 13  " A t a conference in Montreal on "I Cantari" (March, 1981), both Domenico De Robertis ("Nascita, tradizione e venture del cantare in ottava rima") and Armando Balduino ("Le misteriose origine dell'ottava rima") made strong claims against the theory that Boccaccio invented it, arguing that ottava rima had been in existence in the oral tradition long before Boccaccio. M . Picone and M . Bendinelli Predelli, eds., / Cantari: Struttura e tradizione (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 1984) 9-47. Wilkins, in his chapter on folk literature, writes: "The most frequent type of folk lyric is a single-stanza octave, with eleven-syllable lines, which is commonly called the strambotto, or, in its Tuscan varieties, the rispetto. Of the early history of the strambotto we have no certain knowledge; but there is some basis for the opinion that it existed in Sicily early in the thirteenth century, and in Tuscany before the end of the century." The rispetto, though it consisted of only one stanza, had the ottava rima rhyme-scheme abababcc (9-10). It was, of course, a non-narrative form. "Both Wyatt and Surrey tend to emulate the lyrical rispetto (or strambotto), not the narrative version of the stanza. Thus, ottava rima usually appears singly in their work, as in such one-stanza poems as "Desire, alas, my master and my foo" (Wyatt 58) and "When reckless youth in quiet breast" (Surrey 74). Wyatt sometimes uses several octaves in one poem, such as the  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 33  complaint to his bed, "The restful place, Revyver of my smarte" (105), but he nevertheless does not put them to narrative use; he merely over-encodes the antithetical spirit of his own elegiac lyricism. When he does need a more narrative style (Satires 185-93), he turns to Dante's continuous terza rima. Collected Poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt (Cambridge: Harvard U P , 1960). Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey: Selected Poems (Manchester: Carcanet, 1985). George Saintsbury, A History of English Prosody I (New York: Russell and Russell, 1961) 408. Chaucer's use of the octave is a slight variation on the Italian model, rhyming ababbcbc and hence having a couplet in the middle, not at the end. See the "Monkes Tale," Canterbury Tales (New York: Henry Holt, 1950) 441-42. Spenser, who used the Italian ottava rima for Virgil's Gnat (Spenser's Minor Poems (Oxford: Clarendon, 1910) 172-94), was probably influenced by Chaucer's octave when he invented his own neuvain, which consists of a Monk's Tale stanza plus a final alexandrine rhyming with the eighth line. 16  17  John Milton, Poetical Works (London: Oxford U P , 1973) 147.  18  John Keats, Poetical Works (London: Oxford U P , 1967)  19  W . B . Yeats, The Collected Poems (London: MacMillan, 1952) 217-18.  179-94.  "Saintsbury I, 408. "Saintsbury II, 277. "The single-stanza  rispetto, like the  strambotto, is a sung lyric.  See note  14. " K a r l Kroeber claims that Don Juan "anticipates later novels rather than reworks earlier models." He goes on: "Russian literature provides evidence of this. The most significant poetic successor to Don Juan in European literature is Pushkin's Eugene Onegin [which is not in octaves], and Onegin becomes the starting point for the magnificent florescence of nineteenth-century Russian prose fiction." Romantic Narrative Art (Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1960) 149. Philip Hobsbaum writes: "Byron was not only the greatest exponent of the subversive mode in verse; he was the last. A greater degree of flexibility even than he could encompass was on the way; but it was to transpire in the form not of verse but of prose. Don Juan's true successor is Martin Chuzzlewit." "Byron and the English Tradition," Byron: Wrath and Rhyme, ed. Alan Bold (New Jersey: Barnes and Noble, 1983) 51. "Saintsbury III, 100. "M. M . Bakhtin, "Epic and Novel," The Dialogic Imagination Texas P, 1986) 7.  (Austin: U of  "Bakhtin 21. 27  Pio  Rajna, Le Fonti  dell'Orlando  furioso  (Firenze: Sansoni,  1876)  17.  I  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 34  translate and summarize: "I'ottava e la forma narrativa piu felice delle literature moderne . . . . E un abito fatto sul nostro dorso, e giusto perche a noi sta benissimo, fa le grinze o stringe troppo se altri Vindossa. Succede anche all'ottava cib che accade ai metri greci, costretti a parlar tedesco." " V i r g i n i a Woolf, A Writer's Diary (London: Hogarth P, 1959) 3. "Rajna, refuting earlier claims for the epic status of these poems ("e ridicolo parlare di epopea"), defines them instead as novels, which have as much in common with the Iliad as an aerostat with a bird {"hanno tanto che fare co/ZTliade, quanto un aerostato con un uccello") (16). "Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando furioso lxxvii-xcii, 621-25; 29, i-xxx, 753-60.  (Milano:  Riccardo Ricciardi,  1954)  24,  "Bakhtin 7. "Bakhtin 17. Tasso wrote a defence of his poem, called "Apologia in difesa della Gerusalemme liberata" in 1579, and in 1593 he rewrote the epic completely, publishing it under the new title Gerusalemme conquistata. In his prose writings, he often discusses the relation between unity and diversity in epic poetry. He claims, in his second discourse (of Discorsi dell'arte poetica e in particolare sopra il poema eroica), that although both the Iliad and the Odyssey possess epic unity, the former exhibits "simple unity," while the latter, less obviously unified, possesses "compound unity" ("composta unita") (390). In the Apologia, he writes: "Le piii fila non impediscono I'unita della favola, ma si bene le piu tela" (438). (Many threads do not affect the unity of the story, but many separate fabrics indeed do. M y translation.) Torquato Tasso, Prose (Milano: Riccardo Ricciardo, n.d.) 33  "Robert M . Durling, The Figure (Cambridge: Harvard U P , 1965) 201, 208.  of  the  Poet  in  Renaissance  "Significantly, after the disappointment of Gerusalemme conquistata, final attempt at epic, II' mondo creato, was written in blank verse. Torquato Tasso, Rossi, 1970) 128. 36  Gerusalemme  "Torquato Tasso, Jerusalem Capricorn, 1963) 49. 38  liberata  Delivered,  23,  Opere, I  (Napoli:  Tasso's Fulvio  trans. Edward Fairfax (New York:  Bakhtin 17.  R. D. Waller, introduction, The Monks Frere (Manchester: Manchester U P , 1926) 3. 39  40  III,  Epic  See  Jefferson  and the Giants, by John Hookham  Butler Fletcher, Literature  of the Italian  Renaissance  (New  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 35  York: MacMillan, 1934) 144: "Always at a moment of suspense, he [the cantastorie] would break off abruptly, announcing continuation in his next, and specifying place and time: 'For your return on Wednesday let me pray, Which is—to speak precisely—All Saints Day.'" • "According to Fletcher, the final version of Pulci's Morgante was published in 1483 (143). 42  L u i g i Pulci, Morgante I, 71 (Milano: Riccardo Ricciardi, 1955) 26.  43  "Morgante Maggiore," Poetical Works 377.  "Ariosto, Orlando furioso 28, iv, 728. Ariosto, Orlando furioso (The Fury of Orlando) Reynolds (Great Britain: Penguin Books, 1977) 154. 45  46  II,  trans.  Barbara  Influence  (London:  See, for example, Canto I, 104.  "See Peter Vassalo, Macmillan, 1984) 1-2.  Byron:  The  Italian  Literary  See, for example, the letter to William Miller dated July 30, 1811, and the journal entry of November 24, 1813. Byron's Letters and Journals, (Cambridge: Harvard U P , 1974) II, 63; III, 221. 48  ^Letters and Journals  I, 93-94.  ""English Bards and Scotch Reviewers," Poetical Works 114. UP,  "See William Bowman Piper, The Heroic Couplet (Cleveland: Case Western 1969) 13. "Piper 50, 52.  "Auden, "Don Juan," Random House, 1962) 405. 54  The  Dyer's  Hand  and  Other Essays  (New  York:  Lara, Poetical Works 296.  " N e a r l y all of Sir Walter Scott's long narrative poems, including Marmion, The Lady of the Lake, Rokeby and The Lay of the Last Minstrel, are written in this form. "Among Byron's narrative poems, The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, Siege of Corinth, Parisina, The Prisoner of Chillon and Mazeppa are in measure. "See  Scott's  prose  epigraph  to  The  Lay  of  the Last  Minstrel,  The this  Poetical  OTTAVA  RIMA:  A S U R V E Y / 36  Works (London: Oxford U P , 1967) 1. 5s  The Giaour, Poetical Works 247.  I n Shandyism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978), Peter Conrad writes: "The virtuoso . . . exists by self-indulgently taking liberties with artistic shape and moral precept, and he incites a rebellion of form against content" (49). This statement may have some application to the narrative aspect of Don Juan, but to Byron's earlier works it bears no relevance at all. These poems demonstrate an over-appropriateness—and, perhaps, simplicity—of form and content, and they have a studied unselfconsciousness which avoids the reflexive demand that the reader take note of form per se. i9  "Byron's plays, including Manfred and Cain, are in blank verse. The interest of these works is often more psychological than stylistic: few of their lines are as memorable or as musical as lines from even the early couplet tales. "Paul West says of the Spenserian as used in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: "the dreamy, flatulent stanza looks and sounds unapt. What might have been crisp reporting declines into a languid pageant." Byron and the Spoiler's Art (London: Chatto and Windus, 1960) 53. Saintsbury complains of Byron's "vulgarity" in Childe Harold and his inability to find the "right line" for the Spenserian stanza (III, 98). t2  Childe  Harold's Pilgrimage I, i i , Poetical Works 176.  " G . K . Hunter, Spenserians, eds. Judith Toronto P, 1973) 135. "Childe  "Amoretti and the English Sonnet," M . Kennedy and James A . Reither  A Theatre for (Toronto: U of  Harold's Pilgrimage I, xx, Poetical Works 179.  "Spenser's sonnets usually rhyme ababbcbccdcdee, allowing, as in the Italian sonnet, an ambiguity between alternating and couplet structure. Although his final couplet is formally as disjunct as that of a normal English sonnet, Spenser seldom makes it semantically disjunct or ironic: it is usually a summary or development of what went before. According to Hunter, "Spenser's couplet does not move us into a new plane of sharp relationship between the elements that have appeared. It restates the mood that the situation of the octave has already created. It does not define with sharp finality, but leads us back into the poem, smoothing and further interrelating the connections that already exist" (135). "See William Empson, Windus, 1947) 33-34. "Childe t%  Childe  Seven Types of  Ambiguity  (London: Chatto  Harold's Pilgrimage II, xxxix, Poetical Works 195. Harold's Pilgrimage I V , clvii-clviii, Poetical Works 240.  ^Letters and Journals  V , 264-65.  and  ''"Letters and Journals V , 265. these others unfavourably with Pope.  Byron  OTTAVA  RIMA:  goes  to  on  A S U R V E Y / 37  compare  himself and  "Byron complains in the same letter in which he acknowledges Whistlecraft's "excellent manner" that "all [Murray's] missives came except the tooth-powder—of which I request further supplies at all convenient opportunities—as also of Magnesia & Soda-powders—both great luxuries here—& neither to be had good—or indeed hardly at all of the natives." Letters and Journals V , 267. Letters and Journals  12  V , 267-68.  "Vassallo argues that "fragments" of some "experimental verses" in ottava rima "ridiculing Southey's rise to the Laureateship" are to be found in the John Murray Archives, London, dating from as early as 1814 (141, 176). See, for example, "Translation from the Medea of Euripides" (Poetical Works 24), "I Would I Were a Careless Child" (43), "Away, Away, Ye Notes of Woe" (62-63), "If Sometimes in the Haunts of M e n " (64-65). Other tetrameter octaves have patterns such as aabcbcdd ("Translation from Horace" (5)), aaabcccb ("Translation from Catullus" (5)), ababbcbc ("My Soul is Dark" (78)). 74  "Vassallo claims that Byron had read Ariosto, Dante and Tasso in Italian by 1816 (2). "Epistle to Augusta," Poetical Works 89.  76  "Frere 63. "Frere 36. "Frere 49. 80  tl  "Proem" vii, Frere 66.  Beppo  8J  lxix, Poetical Works 619.  See Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel  "Algernon Charles Windus, 1875) 251-52.  Swinburne, Essays  1-48. and  Studies  (London: Chatto  and  C H A P T E R II  OTTAVA  A  critic  literature through  like the  or a  prosodist  tends  government  work,  RIMA  to  I N DON  go  inspector.  weighing and  JUAN  about  Pencil  measuring,  his business in  hand,  testing  with  he  a  bustles  passages  for  work of erratically  qualities  he  wants to discuss, jumping forward and back, looking for examples, searching out key terms, event, Genette itself.  or  marking up the series  of events,  calls the  essential  Without its crucial  objectified:  its  print and avidly writing notes in the this  may  be;  a  "sequentially" of a time dimension, the  dynamism, its  tissue  reading  it  text,  the  text  of uncertainties,  1  is  becomes what  not.  critic  margin. A n Losing  what  loses the  text  spatialized,  "fixed,"  Barthes describes  "an immense fading that assures both overlapping and loss of messages,"  2  as  are all  sacrificed to a clarity that comes from the visual sense of an object "all there," spread open with the leaves of a book, able to be ravished or possessed. The  theorist  has,  of  course,  read  the  text.  However,  he  has  almost  certainly vitiated his reading by subsequently consuming a number of critical and theoretical works which he feels will react  with his impressions and  precipitate  from them an argument. When he sits down, a blank page before him, to write his own prose, he is probably surrounded by books with markers in them, while  38  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  the  "primary text" lies open at hand, ready to be flipped through and  for  effects  most  and  examples  at  immediately juxtaposed  subject-matter  of  his  any to  critical  moment. his  This situation, or event,  writing,  will  discourse—which  most  is  a  probably  pity,  I 39  scanned  being that  comprise  because  the  impressions  received from scanning a text are often very different from the experience of a reading,  and  fragmentary unaware  a  reading,  complete  and  sequential,  must  be  and disordered survey. The trouble is that the  valued  above . a  critic often  appears  that he is writing about an "event" at all. Perceiving the visual-spatial  dimension instead  of the  auditory-temporal, he may  use  a plastic metaphor  for  his process of observation. The text, like a sculpture, stays still and unchanging for  his examination, and he  may  accumulate  impressions  arithmetically, looking  from any angle he chooses, and in any order. However, a musical metaphor, Hegel and Barthes agree,  3  is a better one for a literary text, which comes into  being only in a performance critical  or reading  scanning is inadequate  as  and  alters  in every  a playing, although were  playing of it. A  it to trigger  complete memories of an earlier reading, it would not be a purposeless The critic recreate  ought  the  to  serial  atemporal fragments  as  acknowledge  a  impressions  hierarchy  of a  good  of events  reading  and  rather  try,  than  at to  more  exercise. least,  record  to the  of his own immediate experience.  Unfortunately, the sculptural model for poetry appeals to the "despotism of the eye" —the dominance that vision can assert over the other  senses. A critic  4  may  need  the  reification  "objective"—perhaps may  even,  suggestion  like that  visual-spatial  perception  in  order  to  be  admirably—in the moral as well as the perceptual sense. He Wimsatt  a  of  and  Beardsley,  work of literature  exist  lose  his  ontological security  only contingently,  and  at  declare  the with  OTTAVA them  that  "a performance  is  must  be  some  kind  enduring  have  proved, alas,  themselves But  of  an  event,  but  object."  RIMA  the  I N DON JUAN  I 40  poem, if there is any  poem,  Enduring  5  notoriously resistant  recognizing this does not  necessarily  objects  to human  entail despair;  and  things  knowledge so  in far.  indeed, it can bring a  sense of release from the totalitarian laws of "objectivity." It can give the critic a more open gestalt, allow him to examine phenomena and impressions of which he  might,  "objectively," have  been  suspicious  or  ashamed.  Liberated from  the  demands of accuracy and facticity, he becomes free to perform the text and play with it as  an  active participant, not  will nevertheless the  way  a mere  consumer  remain for him an important  Barthes  nostalgically  conceives  6  Observing  aspect of performance,  rather in  music  once  or observer.  to  have  existed:  when  "'playing' and 'listening' formed a scarcely differentiated activity." A good reading 7  will  fuse  the  two  roles  of performing and  perceiving and  organs of perception even to visual phenomena—such  will  as they  keep  open  the  are.  However, the critic's dilemma is only made brutally conscious to him by this change of focus, not solved. It is impossible to read and write at the same time. He must  accept  this shortcoming and  writing critical papers altogether,  realize that, apart from giving  up  he will find no "real" solution to his problem.  The temporal can be known only in the fleeting contingency of time; as soon as it  is  viewed  retain reviews  the  retrospectively,  time  them  dimension  is  difficult;  memory, duration becoming And  it even  a  is  foreshortened,  in events  collage  of  made  of the  "stills"  is  episodic,  spatialized. To  critic's life  as  often  they  how  he  casually  appear  in  instantaneous.  yet writers of fiction manage to suggest the passage of time in the  lives of characters,  even when narration is scanty or non-existent.  Lived time is  OTTAVA apparently  capable  of representation;  critic's dilemma. If he can find can  create  partially—a  a  fictional  work  of  one.  fiction,  and  RIMA  in this  I N DON JUAN  capacity  lies a  I 41  clue for  the  no "real" solution to his problem, perhaps  His  work  whose  of  criticism  protagonist  is  a  could  become—at  reader  of  the  proposes to discuss and whose plot is the movement of this reader  he least  text  he  through  the  text, in order, from beginning to end. Of course, the critic's narration does not have  to  go in this  order;  nor  does  he  have  to  narrate  progress in detail—he can merely announce that this occurs. Having  his reader  in front  of him, as  it were  all of his  8  under  construction,  critic will realize that he can manipulate this reader's responses  and  in  Close  various  ways  for  particular  effects,  polemical or  reader's  aesthetic.  the  tendencies on  this  realization will come the recognition that he has, in fact, always done this kind of  manipulation, even  when  he  was  striving  for  truth  and  which he has privately read with reverence he has sneered  objectivity.  Lines  at in print, for the  sake of consistency or politics. His actual experience of a text  has  often  been  very different from the more intelligent one he has written about. Previously he was guilty of bad faith; now he can lie cheerfully and with a quiet conscience. Although reader-character this  reader  character  the  critic-author  can  know  in ways in which, in "real  can—and  indeed,  being  a  the  life,"  created  from himself. The critic has been  inner  responses  he can know only fiction,  a reader  must—be  a  of  his  his own, different  before being a critic, and  this experience may provide him with the raw material for creating his fiction; but still, being represented The  reader  totally  in his text, this reader is by nature a fictional other.  can be worse, or better, than  obedient  and  completely determined,  the  critic-author as  a reader.  he  may  to  be  made  take  Being a  very  OTTAVA narrow  view  misunderstand  of  the  text  for  the  critic's  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  polemical  purposes.  I 42  He  certain aspects of it, or he may have a very strange,  may  or lunatic  slant on it in order to bring up a particular effect—much as a limited  narrator  operates i n a novel. Conversely, like the one I have chosen for this dissertation, the  created  reader  "implied reader"  may  be  idealized,  approaching  more  closely  the  perfect  than the critic does in any single reading of the text. She may  9  be constructed to read with consistent concentration, to take breaks only at  the  ends of passages (or not at all); she can be manipulated so that she never loses interest or misses a joke or an irony which the critic has ever understood; can  be  moods  made and  tolerant  and  known prejudices  "implied author."  10  even-tempered, which  never  alienate  the  suffering  from  critic  occasion  A fictional reading may transcend  on  the  the  she  perverse from  "real"—though  the  perhaps  not the possible or plausible—even while it retains, as an a priori, the fact that it is a finite reading, limited by personality, knowledge, space and time. And so, for the purposes existing  in  "real  time."  A  of this dissertation, Don Juan  reader  must  be  imagined, who  must be seen as makes  her  through the text  at something like the  speed of speech; the phenomenon  she  is  auditory.  experiences  both  visual  and  auditory factor is more important, she is aware least  periodically.  Thus, even though  she  Although  the  way which  time-measuring,  of the spatial, visual aspect,  at  knows certain parts of the  poem by  heart, she has a book open in front of her so that she can see the  shape of  line and stanza and the printed signs for the words. Also, the movement of her eyes' focus across line after though the monitors  line physically marks her progress through the  text,  sound—or the imagined sound, if she is not reading aloud—is what  the  speed  with  which  this  visual  focus  can  move.  Words  have  a  OTTAVA particular  shape in time; they  compressed.  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  cannot be endlessly drawn out or  Their possible length  of pronunciation has  limits  I 43  infinitesimally  which  may  vary  more from person to person than within one person's repertoire; however, textual factors  will cause  enunciation to become faster  of the  auditory over the  or slower at times. The priority  visual is demonstrated  by the  fact  that the  often, in its finer movements, rush ahead of the mental performance,  eye  will  or "silent  voice," which is the actual moving focus of the reader's attention, just as it does when its owner is reading aloud. Peripheral consciousness must find out how the sentence  ends in order that central consciousness may shape the intonation and  stress contours of the words through which it moves. Intonation and stress auditory phenomena; word.  Central  in shaping them the  consciousness—whatever  reader  memory  "makes or  the  sense"  of the  subconscious  are  written may  be  doing—moves in a temporal, auditorily monitored continuum through the lines of the  work.  Probably  the  reader  is  commanded  to  read  in  this  way  in  the  following, surely the silliest of Byron's octaves:  Oh reader! If that thou canst read,—and know, 'Tis not enough to spell, or even to read, To constitute a reader; there must go Virtues of which both you and I have need. Firstly, begin with the beginning—(though That clause is hard); and secondly, proceed; Thirdly, commence not with the end—or, sinning In this sort, end at least with the beginning. (XIII, 73)  My  reader  has,  of course,  read  Don Juan  before.  Memory  of previous  readings allows her better anticipations and a more consistent style than she had in  a first reading. However, as Herrnstein Smith points out, "the more general  of our responses  must be described as remarkably similar from  hearing to the next." She continues:  one reading or  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 44  We might say that one tends to suppress what one knows for the pleasure of not knowing. It is also likely that the specific knowledge of any particular work can never be secure or complete enough to overcome the systems of expectation created by the structure of that work. 11  Thus,  my  reader  is capable  of suspense,  contingent on moving serially  surprise,  through time with  relief  and  all the  feelings  the ever-approaching future  as  yet unknown. Clearly,  this  model, positing as  it  does  a  singular, finite event,  solves  many problems £or both the narratologist and the prosodist. For the former, the "real  reader"  known  and  performance,  is no longer  a multiple and infinitely  controllable fiction. whose  rhythms  For the are  the  latter,  the  result  of  variable uncertainty but text  is not  particular  a  score but  choices;  singular, definable and linear, not a matrix of unrealized possibilities. the  reader's  multivalency reader  psychology in of the  is often  text  aware  mind,  in terms  the  critic  may  of choices she  to  some  extent  they 12  a a are  Keeping  suggest  the  is conscious of making. The  of alternative possibilities even while her own reading is  quite decisive; this gives them a place in the  very reading that excludes them.  M y reader's choices must be judged finally by the reader of this dissertation, in the  light of internal consistency and—because  inclusiveness of interpretation.  it is my reader's  stated  aim—of  Her reading must be seen to be all of a piece;  she must not intone this line as regular iambic pentameter:  You'll par|don to | my muse | a few | short naps (V, 159)  and then read the following with a spondee in the penultimate position: The anjtique Perjsians taught | three use|ful things. ( X V I , 1)  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 45  A mind and voice that read the latter line in this way must choose to produce the former thus:  You'll par|don to | my Muse | a few | short naps.  Also, as a good director of Shakespeare  may, having no pressure  of consistency  upon him at that particular moment, choose "sullied" over "solid" in the line "O that this too too solid/sullied flesh would melt" more predictable "solid" where  the  13  because  it seems to include the  converse would not hold, so my reader  tend, wherever possible, to make the inclusive choice, as long as this does  will not  interfere with her consistency of style. For example, she will attempt throughout her reading what Reuven Tsur describes as a "rhythmical delivery style, which strikes  an  acceptable  accommodates, line  "You'll  balance  between  somehow, both pattern  pardon  to  my  Muse a  prose  rhythm  and  of stress and of metre)." few  short  14  naps"—as in a  metre  Hence, in the myriad similar  lines—she will impose perceptible stress on the preposition because but not enough for it to contend sentence  and thus make nonsense  sake  of  rhyme,  unrecognizable. In the fast  though fifth  of the  metre,  in significance with the lexical words of the of the prose sense of the line.  prepared as well to do a certain amount of damage the  (which  not  so  much  that  15  She will be  to normal pronunciation for the  distorted  words  be  line of the following, she will read "this I call" very  and she will soften its sibillant almost to a " z " in order to give effect to  the comic rhyme:  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 46  But  I am apt to grow too metaphysical: "The time is out of joint,"—and so am I; I quite forget this poem's merely quizzical, And deviate into matters rather dry. I ne'er decide what I shall say, and this I call Much too poetical. (IX, 41)  However, she will not tamper with the dipthong vowel "I" and so the tension of the  imperfect  rhyme,  which  brings  a  sense  of clever  similarity,  but  not of  of the  reader  identity, remains. The  most important reason for my elaborate  fictionalization  remains the simple necessity of keeping the focus of this text and of its author's mental eye on a reading. The critical activity of collecting, collating and listing remains the  same, of course, both before  and  during writing, no matter  what  metaphor or myth is evoked for the critic's approach in the text. Yet the fiction used here enforces on the critic a certain angle of approach—from which I may, indeed,  digress—but  preventing  thereby  to the  whose  slant  valorizing  possible future—readings.  of  M y reader  I  must  immediate  present  experience  time over  and  time. Her usefulness  will  again,  previous—and  is a mnemonic device which forces  imagine a reading and its contingent present another  re-orientate  me to  time even while I am writing in  perhaps  become more obvious in the  course of this dissertation. To return to Don Juan. phenomenon emptied than  (as  if from  of content;  Byron's.  It  as is  the an  high  The stanza has been examined as an out-of-focus ceiling);  historical time  for  as  an  intellectual paradigm,  development, the  fixed  digressions to cease and the reading of Don Juan In  filled eye  up to  Platonically  with  content  unfreeze,  the  other mind's  to begin.  Byron's ottava rima, the most immediate feature  for the reader is the  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 47  most obvious characteristic of the bare stanza: a change occurring between lines 6  and  7.  Frequently, and  as  is  common in Ariosto,  this  change  is  from  a  narrative to an ironic mode, though it is here more often violent than in any of the Italian poets discussed. It characteristically takes the form of a sudden comic "sabotage" (West's word)  16  of a serious theme developed in the sestet:  Rose the Sultana from a bed of splendour, Softer than the soft Sybarite's, who cried Aloud because his feelings were too tender To brook a ruffled rose-leaf by his side,— So beautiful that art could little mend her, Though pale with conflicts between love and pride:— So agitated was she with her error, She did not even look into the mirror. (VI, 89)  Expanding on West's observation, Anne K . Mellor and Jerome J . McGann both note  that  stanza  the  change  in which  the  can  be  couplet  in the signals  opposite for  the  direction,  reader  a  17  as  sudden  in the  following  chastening  into  seriousness of a flippant theme begun in the sestet: Each aunt, each cousin hath her speculation; Nay, married dames will now and then discover Such pure disinterestedness of passion, I've known them court an heiress for their lover. "Tantaene!" Such the virtues of high station! Even in the hopeful Isle, whose outlet's "Dover": While the poor rich wretch, object of these cares, Has cause to wish her sire had had male heirs. (XII, 33)  But ironies  at  funny,  but  the  serious-comic  play in Don Juan. have  narrative to the  to  do  narrator:  with  dichotomy Many a  shift  does  of them, of the  not as  adequately  account  in Ariosto,  are  reader's  for  the  not actually  consciousness  from  the  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 48  Then shrieking, she arose, and shrieking fell, With joy and sorrow, hope and fear, to see H i m whom she deem'd a habitant where dwell The ocean-buried, risen from death, to be Perchance the death of one she loved too well: Dear as her father had been to Haidee, It was a moment of that awful kind— I have seen such—but must not call to mind. (IV, 36)  The use of the  first-person  pronoun, as in this couplet, is not essential for the  shift of consciousness to occur; in fact, being itself a reflexive device, it tends to blur  for the  reader  the  couplet's  own formal predisposition to self-reflexiveness.  The new circling movement in the semantic  level, which  final  lends itself  two lines causes a tightening up on the  to epigram and oracle, being a gesture of a  more memorable shape than the longer and more meandering sestet. In  the  following  stanza,  for  example,  the  natural  18  compactness  of  the  couplet is perfectly suited to the subtle rhetoric it carries: Within a niche, nigh to its pinnacle, Twelve saints had once stood sanctified in stone; But these had fallen, not when the friars fell, But in the war which struck Charles from his throne, When each house was a fortalice—as tell The annals of full many a line undone,— The gallant Cavaliers, who fought in vain For those who knew not to resign or reign. (XIII, 60) The verbal play of "reign" against both "resign" and "vain" by means of rhyme and  alliteration is just  enough  to  give the  reader  a  sense  of technique  construction, to make her conscious of craftsmanship and hence of the whose opinions are not quite concealed in this couplet, though they  and  craftsman, are in the  sestet. Stanzaic poetry, with its necessity of "starting anew" at the beginning of each formal repetition, asks for utterances of a particular length, in ottava rima  OTTAVA the demand being for the rather cumbersome Byron than  tends to use coordination  a loosely constructed  and—his  signature  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 49  sentence of eight pentameter lines.  sentence, containing less  device—many  almost invariably counters the tendency to wander  parentheses;  but  subordination the  couplet  and accumulate. It takes  the  form very often of the sentence's major turn or the most important formulation, and it is frequently  signalled in the  grammar  by  a disjunctive such  as  "but,"  "yet" or "however," which sets it into opposition to the entire preceding sestet:  Juan was moved: he had made up his mind To be impaled, or quartered as a dish For dogs, or to be slain with pangs refined, Or thrown to lions, or made baits for fish, And thus heroically stood resigned, Rather than sin—except to his own wish: But all his great preparatives for dying Dissolved like snow before a woman crying. (V, 141)  The  couplet's  valorization.  In  position—last—in some  whose startling effect  cases,  the  stanza  is  a  significant  this placing allows it to be used  factor as  in  its  a revelation  is anticipated by various devices of suspense through  the  sestet, as in the tantalizing final stanza of Canto X V I : The ghost, if ghost it were, seemed a sweet soul As ever lurked beneath a holy hood: A dimpled chin, a neck of ivory, stole Forth into something much like flesh and blood; Back fell the sable frock and dreary cowl, And they revealed—alas! that ere they should! In full, voluptuous, but not o'ergrown bulk, The phantom of her frolic Grace-Fitz-Fulke! ( X V I , 123)  Don Juan levels  is perceived by the  of technique.  The  reader early on as synecdochic at  dialogic stanza  is  a building-block for  a  several  long dialogic  poem. B y means of sentences which are mostly compound and appositional rather  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  than complex, a story unfolds in which events are serially joined one to not  subordinated  as  parts of a  Preferring simile to metaphor,  I 50  another,  unity consisting of beginning, middle and  Byron produces  a highly realistic fiction  end.  in which  he constantly reminds his reader of its fictiveness and continually displays to her view  the  relation  process  of  its  construction.  of parts to whole is not  resembles  the  poem's  larger  However,  she  soon  simple. Although the  dichotomy  between  discovers  sestet-couplet  narrative  and  that  the  dichotomy  digression  or  commentary, narration is quite clearly not limited to sestets, nor commentary  to  couplets.  as  Only  19  narrative,  20  about  two-thirds  of the  poem  can  and whole blocks of stanzas—sometimes  be  classed  even  loosely  nearly all of a book, as in  Canto XII—are devoted to authorial comments of various kinds. Nevertheless, stanza is the  smallest unit in which the tendency to pulsate between these two  levels can regularly be felt, and even within the the  the  form of utterance.  larger  categories  For example, although the following stanza  it  influences  is, like most  of the stanzas quoted previously, narrative, it "lets through" the narrator's  voice  or opinion by means of a pointing device in the couplet:  The second motive was to profit by The moment of the general consternation, To attack the Turk's flotilla, which lay nigh Extremely tranquil, anchored at its station: But a third motive was as probably To frighten them into capitulation; A phantasy which sometimes seizes warriors, Unless they are game as Bull-dogs and Fox-terriers. (VII, 24) In this case the emphasis is achieved by means of generalization rather than by climax or disjunction. The following  stanza  of commentary  summary instead of generalization:  creates a very similar  effect,  using  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 51  That is, we cannot pardon their bad taste, For so it seems to lovers swift or slow, Who fain would have a mutual flame confest, And see a sentimental passion glow, Even were St. Francis' paramour their guest, In his Monastic Concubine of Snow;— In short, the maxim for the amorous tribe is Horatian, "Medio tu tutissimus ibis." (VI, 17) By collecting and sharpening the narrator's tolls  the  reader  back  from  the  realm  somewhat  of erotic  wayward eye, the  speculation  to  that  couplet  of  poetic  Greater self-reflexiveness in the couplet is perceived in the following  stanza  technique, which is an area of greater self-reflexiveness.  because  of a  dramatically  sudden  out  ironical twist in the  of the  poem at  "you," the  been innocently evesdropping, unaware  authorial position, a  finger pointing  reader, who up to this point  that the  voyeuristic narrator  has  has his eye  on her as well as Juan: In thoughts like these true wisdom may discern Longings sublime, and aspirations high, Which some are born with, but the most part learn To plague themselves withal, they know not why: 'Twas strange that one so young should thus concern His brain about the action of the sky; If you think 'twas philosophy that this did, I can't help thinking puberty assisted. (I, 93) Authorial posturing in the sestet can be punctured by a couplet in which the bathos is contained in metacomment, what goes before:  again a more self-reflexive mode  than  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 52  "Go, little book, from this my solitude! I cast thee on the waters, go thy ways! And if, as I believe, thy vein be good, The world will find thee after many days." When Southey's read, and Wordsworth understood, I can't help putting in my claim to praise— The first four rhymes are Southey's, every line: For God's sake, reader! take them not for mine. (I, 222)  Among the variations on this stanza, rarely—come  upon  a  specimen  like  the  the reader  following,  will occasionally—though  which  exactly  reverses  her  expectation by using the sestet for commentary and the couplet for narration: A h ! what is man? what perils still environ The happiest mortals even after dinner— A day of gold from out an age of iron Is all that life allows the luckiest sinner; Pleasure (whene'er she sings, at least) 's a siren, That lures to flay alive the young beginner; Lambro's reception at his people's banquet Was such as fire accords to a wet blanket. ( I l l , 36) To  her  surprise,  the  effect  is  not  of jarring novelty.  The  couplet  still  attention to itself, both stylistically and thematically. The closeness of to  its  defuser,  craftsmanship Perhaps  "blanket,"  gives  the  reader  that  heightened  turn  itself, not the  nature of the  "banquet"  consciousness  which is in the nature of paired as against alternating  the  calls  material before  or  of  structures. after  it, is  what gives the point to the final shorter utterance. The narrator's  pulling himself  up and getting on with his story—even though he does not,  he often  tell  his  reader  merely of the  that the  he  is doing it—makes  the  reader  once  as  again  does,  aware  not  story's events, but that a story is being told: the reflexive  consciousness. All ottava  the examples cited so far display the  rima  stanza.  In  the  previous  chapter,  I  same argued  dialogic tendency that  this  in the  tendency  is  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 53  "already there" in the form before any content is "put into" it. In other words, the most noticeable stylistic habit in Don Juan or  prosodic devices, of an  effect  anyway. And yet the reader  for  which  is the exaggeration, by semantic a  strong formal  disposition exists  does not find this poem as similar to any of the  Italian medley poems in ottava rima as she might have expected. What she finds different, types  apart from the inherent variations between the two languages and the  of story  palette less  used  to be  here.  dignified  told,  is the  Byron's  than  narrator  Ariosto's:  enormous  spectrum  is much more  melancholy,  of moods on the  tonal  excitable and mobile, much  indignation,  vulgarity,  blitheness,  iconoclasm, familiarity, tragic sympathy and hilarious leg-pulling follow each other with a more bewildering variety and speed here than in any of the Renaissance epics. Maugre Barthes, the illusion of the "Author"'s presence is strong enough in this  poem  to  give the  reader  a continual ' consciousness of an  speaking to her.  21  only  there or "showing through" his narrative's  here  and  individual  voice  Even Ariosto is in comparison almost effaced, declaring himself texture  in relatively  subtle reminders. Clearly,  to a greater  extent  than  any of his predecessors  in this  form,  Byron is a virtuoso. The reader may be led to expect this by what she knows about  the  nineteenth-century  cult  of personality.  However, something  classical in Byron's approach, if not in its results,  causes  her  distinctly  to perceive his  virtuosity not as Peter Conrad does, in the breaking or "subduing" of forms and formal expectations, form's  own  22  varieties  but more in the over-using of them, in the taking of the and  possibilities to  their  natural  extreme.  distinctive stylistic habit is the form's own major feature—a Ariosto  softens  and  blurs  a  little,  for  example  by  Byron's  feature  introducing an  most  which even ironic  tone  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 54  subtly into line 5 as a prelude to the stronger subversive turn in line 7.  23  appears  to  rebellion  against  conventional usage.  exactly  the  narrative  be  rebellion  way  on  against  Ariosto  top  and  form  in Don  No formal and  the  the  necessity  other  narrator's  upside-down; ergo, Byron does this.  24  Juan  is  often  exists  Italians reflection  to  merely  set  the  usually  have  below.  It  stanza  up  with  the  it,  can  What  be  turned  A long poem does not have to be mostly  narrative, intermittently sprinkled with commentary; Byron makes about half his poem commentary, and this of varying kinds, so that within the stanza ironies can come upon ironies, irrelevancies upon necessities, the tragic upon the flippant, bravado  upon  relatively identifiable frequency  rare  humility, in  this  speaking to  which  and poem  voice; the  vice  versa,  because  this  voice  and  of the changes  periodic structure  so  on.  Transparent  almost its  narrative  continual presence tone  of stanzaic  with  a  poetry per  is  of an  breathtaking se  and  the  contrapuntal possibilities of this particular stanza are admirably suited. A few exceptions to the six-two rule of stanza division can be found, as George M . Ridenour has noted.  25  The reader occasionally comes across stanzas in  which the illusion of another, or no, verse form persists. Grammatical force can divide the lines into couplets, despite the fact that only the final one rhymes as such: The column ordered on the assault scarce passed Beyond the Russian batteries a few toises, When up the bristling Moslem rose at last, Answering the Christian thunders with like voices; Then one vast fire, air, earth and stream embraced, Which rocked as 'twere beneath the mighty noises; While the whole rampart blazed like Etna, when The restless Titan hiccups in his den. (VIII, 7)  Alternatively, two quatrains can be created:  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 55  That on a sudden, when she had least hope, It fell down of its own accord, before Her feet; that her first movement was to stoop And pick it up, and bite it to the core; That just as her young lip began to ope Upon the golden fruit the vision bore, A bee flew out and stung her to the heart, And so—she woke with a great scream and start. (VI, 77) But the reader readily observes in each of these examples that the final unit is more  heavily  weighted than  the  earlier  ones,  owing  to  the  greater  power of  closure found in the couplet rhyme. The virtuoso performer makes his saxophone sing  like  a  performer's  flute  without  cleverness  tampering  with  is experienced by the  its  construction.  listener because  that he is playing the other instrument; she hears background of other  patterns.  Much  subversive  integrity  by  more  enjambment  and  is  the  caesurae.  sense  of  the  of her knowledge  the six-two structure in the  undermining of Both  A  of these  the  iambic  devices  pentameter's  are,  of course,  extremely common in English poetry and they are not considered fundamentally detrimental to the metre.  26  However, Byron uses them occasionally in such high  concentration  that a statistical analysis of their occurrence in Don Juan  not  their  indicate  intense—though  periodic—anarchical power.  commonly in the more conversational or colloquial stanzas, speech is strongest,  either in dialogue among characters  They  would  occur  most  where an illusion of  or when the  narrator's  voice is most in evidence. The reason for this concurrence is obvious: units of utterance  are irregular in length, even if they are basically iambic (which recent  research suggests that they generally are). Both enjambment  27  and midline pauses  are  variable devices which  can be  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 56  strong or weak depending on sentence structure, speed and style of reading, type of phoneme and other contextual factors. Only the strongest cases will be discussed here.  Of the  and least disputable  two devices, midline pauses on their own  usually affect the stanza less. A s long as strong pauses also punctuate the ends of  lines  where  the  rhymes  occur,  choppiness  of rhythm  is  felt  to  be  under  control:  " M y third—"—"Your third!" quoth Juan, turning round; "You scarcely can be thirty: have you three?" "No—only two at present above ground: Surely 'tis nothing wonderful to see One person thrice in holy wedlock bound!" "Well then, your third," said Juan; "what did she? She did not run away, too, did she sir?" "No, f a i t h . " - " W h a t then?"-"I ran away from her." (V, 20)  When enjambment unifying,  smoothing  and  is the more important device, it can have the effect of speeding  up  the  stanza,  creating- a  tightly-knit verse  paragraph rather than the less hierarchical compound form favoured by Byron: But "en avant!" The light loves languish o'er Long banquets and too many guests, although A slight repast makes people love much more, Bacchus and Ceres being, as we know, Even from our grammar upwards, friends of yore With vivifying Venus, who doth owe To these the invention of champagne and truffles: Temperance delights her, but long fasting ruffles. ( X V I , 86)  However,  when  strong  enjambment  verse becomes a good deal more precarious:  coincides  with  strong  28  caesurae,  the  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 57  I won't describe—that is, if I can help Description; and I won't reflect—that is, If I can stave off thought, which, as a whelp Clings to its teat, sticks to me through the abyss Of this odd labyrinth; or as the kelp Holds by the rock; or as a lover's kiss Drains its first draught of lips:—but, as I said, I won't philosophize, and will be read. (X, 28)  A n oral rendering of this by someone altogether  she chooses to enunciate  evident  as what metrists  call "prose rhythm" —a 29  that  her; as  she  far  the  rhyme-words,  performer,  can  as  see  my reader has  the  stress-count  stress pattern  rhymes  when  they  and rhyme  its different,  more authoritarian  that makes sense of a  the  and the  "score" of the  stanza  line-endings and is  go, this is regular  Even the couplet is used in a conventional manner, foreshortened,  even  their  Thus she manages to sound a "metrical" rhythm as well  spoken sentence. Also, as visible before  lines in such a way as to make  by very slight pauses after  are heavily enjambed.  aware  stanza  for a listener. However, my reader is both performer and listener and,  as performer, endings  else could conceivably obscure the  hence  ottava rima.  if she take it to be a little  utterance beginning after  the  last  dash. She is conscious that what Byron is doing here with these straddled lines and  disjunct  phrases  is  once  more  playing the  virtuoso  with  "Listen!—it sounds like prose—and yet, look again, reader!—I of place; I break work his stanza but and  also for  the  incongruent  not one of the  ideas,  and  rules of strict poetic decorum!" He tends to  structure  moods,  instrument.  put not a foot out  very hard, not merely for the dialogic effects unity  his  themes  it imposes and  virtuosity would be perceptible only within  even  discussed earlier,  on his extraordinarily various rhythms.  a difficult  and  The  daring  strict verse  prose a passage like the stanza above would be unremarkable;  of his  form. In  in ottava rima it  OTTAVA  RIMA  is a surprising technical achievement. In prose, Don Juan  I N DON JUAN  I 58  might well appear  an  extremely uneven and flighty work, but as it is the reader's eyes move smoothly down the  page  from  rectangular block to rectangular block of print, while  intellect and inner ear  are  continually reassured  three alternately rhyming, one set over pages  her  by the paradigm: two sets of  of two in a couplet completion, on and on,  and pages. This hypnotism is one of the most important sources of  unity in Don  Juan.  Another  source  author's—presence  as  is  the  she  reader's  becomes  growing  sense  of  the  narrator's—or  increasingly immersed in this poem. Chapter  V I contains a detailed discussion of how the  narrator  appears  to dominate  the  reader, but I must mention here that the measured time of the rhythm is his time. It is the time of his (fictionally) enunciating the words whose relation to himself  and  whose  character  as  artifacts  he  so  constantly  mentions  that  the  reader is continually conscious of them, him and his activity of generating them. Thus,  in  the  end,  two  scenarios,  phenomenological critic of Don Juan. the  poem; the  other,  recreated  not  one,  demand  One is of the  vividly  in the  reader  mind  attention  from  the  perusing a copy of  of this reader,  is of the  narrator, composing and performing the text at the rate she moves through it. Many critics have claimed what this chapter proposes and what may be a trivially self-evident observation in the end: namely, that the the most important structural units in Don Juan. " 3  stanza  is one of  However, a stanza is not in  itself unitary and can be critically anatomized. I have examined so far a number of ways in which the reader experiences the whole stanza. She is conscious also of the poetic line. Due  to  eccentric  and  frequent  punctuation  (particularly parentheses  of  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 59  various kinds), the line can appear to the eye more irregular metrically than it really is. Each line almost invariably contains  five  viable feet;  most  inversions  into the trochee occur in the first position; trisyllabic variations are not especially common.  31  The most most frequent  irregularity is the combination consisting of a  pyhrric followed by a spondee known as  the  ionic or double foot.  It is to be  32  found in all of the four possible positions:  For his own part,\ he real|ly should | rejoice (V, 70);  Yielded | to the deep ftyi|light's purp|le charm (II, 184); To vir|tue prop|er, or good ec?|uca|tion (XIII, 31); Which scarcely rose j much high|er than grass blades (VIII, 47) (My emphasis.) Ionics are very common in English iambic pentameter, they encountered as  major  as often as in Don Juan.  disruptions  position—because  of  the  though in few poems  33  The reader does not experience  rhythm—except  perhaps  in  they keep decorum in terms of numbers  the  are them  sensitive  last  despite the introduction  into the line of the dreaded spondee. Derek Attridge, who sees them as  evidence  of syllable-counting within the accentual-syllabic frame, claims that syllabic rhythm "can be more subtle in its reflection of speech" than stress-timed rhythms. language  containing  many  juxtaposition of stresses must juxtapositions sound number  more  within like  the  Italian  important naturally  iambic  monosyllabic  words,  the  34  In a  occasional  occur; ionics attempt to represent these  scheme.  hendecasyllabics,  They in  of syllables only, allowing stresses  also  which to  fall  make  English  pentameters  the  metrical  rule  governs  less  regularly  than  in  the  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 60  strict English metres. However,  more  violent  eruptions  than  these  break  into  Byron's  iambic  pentameter. The reader encounters at times the spondee on its own without  the  accompanying pyrrhic to give it respectability. A line with six stresses, three of them also  contiguous, interferes  is not only a contradiction of the with  periodic,  strive  stressed  syllables  otherwise  her  for  the a  demotion  and  voice  stress-contours of  of  the  five-beat  normal  middle  a  marked  slowing of  will  perform  the  pronunciation  stress.  the  Pauses  35  reader's  demotion,  expectation,  as  can  which,  being  between  these  pace be  but it  are  essential;  demonstrated  by  several experimental readings of the following line from Wordsworth:  The still,| sad mu|sic of | human|ity.  36  (My emphasis.)  The slower she reads and the more the reader separates words, the more likely spondees are to occur. clipped  and  consonants  emphatic  37  Regional accent is also important. pronunciation,  unlike  extended  vowels  of North America, is particularly prone to spondaic  That stress, in English, is associated a  the  M y reader, having a  literary and  linguistic commonplace.  and  readings.  with emotional intensity,  A t times  softened  is perhaps  of high excitement—as  long as  suspense, the need to narrate or explain, or any other speeding-up  device is not  operative—language  inclination to  demote important kinds  of  becomes  more  marked  syllables decreases.  emotional  pressure  must  and  emphatic,  For  spondees to  be  high  and  and occur  the  the  in poetry,  poet's  certain  diction  must  concurrently tend towards monosyllabic words. These conditions frequently  coincide  because  effective  the  short,  uninflected  Anglo-Saxon forms  embody  our  most  vocabulary of passion. In Byron as in Wordsworth, spondees can be scanned  at  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 61  moments of particular fervour:  To this,| my plain,| sworn, downjright de|testa|tion.  In frequency  Don  Juan  the  in another  reader  context  finds  herself  not necessarily  reading  associated  with  (IX, 24)  spondees  with  high  emotional intensity.  This context is one of its uniquely typical rhetorical devices: the list. "It always suited Byron to play collector with things and people," writes West of this device and,  38  whose  indeed, its relationship is synecdochic to Don Juan's keynote  is "accretion" rather than  people equally against for  incongruous  humour  and  hierarchy  or  one another,  If  the  metre  and cosmology; thus,  39  Lists balance  offering no preferences,  ironic juxtaposition  holism.  organicism.  is  what  puts  them  disrupted  at  narrative  among these  and his  structure, things  and  Byron's genius best  points,  vehicles of  then  so  are  seems to be metrical irresponsibility is, in  fact, careful poetic decorum. Lines serious or ironic like the following are legion: Except I to bull-|fights, mass,| play, rout | and rev|el (I, 148); Thrones, worlds,] et cet|era, are | so oft | upset (IV, 4); In like | church bells,| with sigh,| howl, groan,/ yell, prayer (VIII, 58) Drest, vot\ed, shone,| and, may|be, something more (XIV, 18). (My emphasis.) Of example—the  course,  the  rhythmically  registered  phenomenon  is  only  most miniature and compressed—of the list. Even elements  by monosyllables can be rendered or "or" between them:  metrically inoffensive by the  one  signified  addition of "and"  OTTAVA And  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 62  guards,| and bolts,| and walls,| and now | and then (VI, 32);  That she | was fair,| or dark,| or short,| or tall (VI, 54).  And  the poem contains many lists whose elements  are  signified by units  than a single word. These vary from phrases to whole stanzas,  larger  a good example  of the latter being the "ubi sunt ?" suite in Canto X I (76-80). A Don Juan  story  1  per se—especially  one truncated before  any infernal retribution can take place—is,  like Leporello's aria in Don Giovanni, a kind of catalogue of love affairs, a list of  disparate  from  events which bear  no structural  relationship one  to another  apart  sequence. The  examples  of lines  given  so  far  have  highlighted only the  poem's  rhythmic irregularities. Demonstrating its much more common regularity is harder to do by example; and still harder  is the task of showing in a work like this  the fact that metre is not usually a very noticeable device in Don Juan A  critic, searching pen in hand for a metrically perfect  at all.  stanza, might come up  with the following as his paradigm: 'Tis  time | we should | proceed | with our | good po|em,—  For Not  I I maintain | that it | is real|ly good,  on|ly in | the bod|y, but | the pro|em,— Howev|er litjtle both | are  understood  Just now,|—but by | and by | the Truth | will show | 'em Herself | in her | sublim|est at|titude: And  till | she doth | I fain | must be | content  To share | her Beau|ty and | her Ban|ishment. (IX, 22)  The  only  irregularity—which is  always  entailed  by  feminine  rhyme—in  this  OTTAVA scansion is the extra unstressed  syllable at  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 63  the end of lines 1, 3, and 5. The  reader reads line 2 as above because, although the alternative, For I maintain that it is really good,  would  point  up  the  repetition  metrical expectation and her  of  "good"  and  defend  it,  she  own modern habit of using the  finds  that  the  word "really" for  colloquial emphasis militate against this reading. Thus, an of  the  quoted  judgement,  almost perfectly regular stanza.  not the reader's;  different  from  caesurae  are  by  speaking  the  And  a  yet  this  scansion does regularity  quite  of iambic pentamenter.  too strong; and more important than A  a  good  rendering  of  the  critic's  something very  The enjambments  these are this  possible reading  clearly  her experience of this stanza is as  classic example  voice.  is  chart  effects  passage  and  contributed  demands  great  variability in speed, in pitch and in emphasis and has the effect of masking the "metrical" rhythm  without necessarily  according to W. B . Yeats, for "the speech"; of  the  40  stanzas  contradicting it. Byron  syntax  strove continually,  and vocabulary of common personal  like this one, with their colloquialisms, repetitions, dashes, uses  first person  and  (often)  italics  and  exclamation marks  are  inadequately  described by a scansion which points up only local stresses and unstresses on a scale of two. Isochrony is at a minimum here; what a reader  hears is not so  much the five-beat pulse of the metre as the rushing and emphatic pausing, the slurring and ironic pointing which a good performance would deliver. The defiance of line 2 is contingent almost entirely on its one major stress—that on "really" (or "is," in the as  the  alternative reading). The other stresses are  voice speeds through them to make its point. Line  hardly heard 6 requires  a  at all fairly  OTTAVA strong stress on the second syllable of " H e r s e l f  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 64  (being the deferred object of the  enjambed previous line), but its real fulcrum is the middle syllable of the inflated superlative "sublimest," which requires that sort of hanging sarcasm, the curl of the  lip which  only the  true Limey  can  do, looking down his nostrils  at  the  the effect of spontaneity  and  hireling crew avidly writing their odes to Truth. This is a poetry of posture and performance, improvisation  given  sentence—and  a sentence consisting almost entirely of parentheses, so that clauses  are  not  fully  each other the  here,  subordinated  as the thought  reader of the  the "naturalness"  as  one runs  so  often,  to another,  by  making  but  tacked  the  whole  stanza  together and included in  through them. The metre is not what  intricacy of form, for the  rhythms  one  reminds  flow off the tongue  of speech; however, she is conscious, to some extent,  with  of form.  It is the rhyme that does it. The rhyme is what  steadies and braces  the  stanza  and what, by giving  the lines their sense of an ending, creates and sustains their integrity as lines. The last syllable of "understood" clicks neatly into place under "good," the  strong  stress and the perfect masculine rhyme setting up a powerful opposition to the subversive forms,  as  effect here  prosodically than  of enjambment. an  adjective  Rhyming and  a  (perfectly) past  two  participle,  a grammatical repetition, giving the  different is  reader  more  grammatical satisfactory  a better  completion precisely because it is less monotonous and predictable.  41  sense of  "Poem . . .  proem" is a weaker rhyme since the similarity is too close, both grammatically and audibly; but here the  reader is being "set  up" for the  trick rhyme  'em"; and, in any case, both the "poem" and the "proem" lines are  "show  end-stopped  by dashes and do not so much require extra tagging. "Show 'em" is a joke, a  OTTAVA specially manufactured  of enjambment.  afford  this  at  the  I N DON JUAN  J 65  rhyme which forces a pause, if not of the voice, at  of the reader's attention, effect  RIMA  and it also works for the stanza  "Attitude" is  end  of the  an  imperfect  rhyme,  against the but  sestet on a line end-stopped  the  least  anarchic  stanza  with  the  can  powerful  pause signified by a colon. The couplet here is unusual, being clinched by a light rhyme (the rhyming of a lexically stressed However,  "content"  has  the  effect  with a lexically unstressed syllable).  of lengthening and  strengthening  the  pronunciation of "Banishment," valorizing it by making it more sonorous fitting  polysyllabic  alliteration  capping  and grammar.  of  "Beauty,"  against  This is a point at  which  which the  it use  is and  42  normal and  balanced  a by  perception of  form become circular as it were—or inductive as well as deductive. After  setting  up many stanzas with strong rhymes  Byron  has  established  highlight  and  a  pattern  strengthen  to clinch and point their couplets,  of expectation particular  in his reader,  types  of  utterance.  which  he  can  use  His "Banishment,"  to like  Truth's, is a far from shameful condition. Although rhyme is nearly always the structural support of stanza and line in  Don  Juan,  backgrounded,  the  poem  is  very  so also, in certain  variable.  types  foregrounding is not usually achieved, as fewer  substitutions,  but  in terms of a  Just  of stanza, the more  is  quite  childishly  emphatic,  its  rhyme  is  sometimes  is metre foregrounded.  This  critic might expect,  by means of  isochronous  which  conscious to the reader a regularly occurring pattern rhythm  as  rhythm,  makes  of pulses. Occasionally, the  nursery-rhyme  cadences  giving  rather  gruesome content the kind of deadly contrast to be found elsewhere, for example in the simile which envisages  the Russian grenadiers  mounting a wall "Cheerful  as children climb the breasts of mothers" (VIII, 15). The following stanza alludes  OTTAVA to  the  atavistic  innocence  of  childhood  RIMA  through  I N DON JUAN  its  smug,  I 66  easily-recited  beat-rhythm:  A sad | miscal|cula|tion a|bout distance Made all | their na|val mat|ters in|correct Three fire|ships lost | their a|miable | exis|tence Before | they reached | a spot | to take | effect: The match | was lit | too soon,| and no | assistance Could re|medy | this lub|berly | defect; They blew | up in | the mid|dle of | the riv|er, While, though | 'twas dawn,| the Turks | slept fast | as ev|er. (VII, 28) The above scansion is regular,  to the detriment  of pronunciation and sense, but  this is how my reader speaks these lines, with great up-and-down emphasis almost  no attempt to assert "prose  is  result  the  according  to  juxtapositions  of a the  diction containing metre  or  rhythm" over metre.  ("The  passionate  too  match  outcries  to  many  was  break  too into  polysyllabic words occur, they do not supply extra running rhythm five  iambs,  up-and-down similar  of anapaests to the  often  with  their  line, but  secondary  This primitive rhythm  monosyllables  lit  are  syllables  soon") the  the  placed  with  pattern.  no  regularly spondaic  Also,  when  syllables and hence give the essential in  in making up  stressed  rhythm set up by the monosyllables forces the  beat—one which ignores  and  positions.  the The  polysyllables into a  four-fold distinctions of normally pronounced  word stress and allows only a binary stress-unstress scale.  43  The effect  suggests  the non-comprehending, regular pronunciation of a child's recitation. More often, stanzas in which the reader is conscious of metre chart areas  OTTAVA of  mood  or  thought which are  have been expressed prose.  Rhythmic  non-specific, matter  of  intrinsic  in  part  arbitrary  factor  during her rhythm  form  of  to  other  poet's  the  sense  of the  tradition,  in for  form the  "poetic"  in poetry—English poetry,  allusions  affinities  conscious  before  conventionally  RIMA  or  and  reader,  perusal of Don Juan.  it  may  content, to  an  in  be  a  but,  sense  however  I 67  that  they  than in  general  and  Poetic  decorum  may  habitual  wedding  together  whatever  almost  the  specifically—rather  cadences, lines.  I N DON JUAN  classic  its  ontology,  degree,  at  it  certain  be  is  a of a  times  Usually, poetic decorum is evident as much in  as in diction and sentence structure. The passages in which it is most  evidence  though  this  can is  be  for  divided  roughly  convenience  into  only,  and  "Romantic" the  and  inaccuracy  "Augustan"  of the  two  modes,  terms  is  acknowledged. The Romantic type are  lyrical,  serious  moment  unified  wonder.  This  is  and the  and at  takes the  form, rare in Don Juan,  meditative, peace,  and  express,  Wordsworthian  bitterly by Wordsworth for borrowing:  which, in  vision 44  an for  of stanzas which  confronting elegiac which  or  a  cosmos  celebrational  Byron  was  for  a  mood,  accused  so  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 68  Sweet hour | of twi|light!—in | the sol|itude Of the pine for|est, and | the si|lent shore Which bounds | Raven|na's im|memo|rial wood, Rooted | where once | the A|drian wave | flow'd o'er, To where | the last | Cesar|ian fort|ress stood, Ever|green for|est! which | Boccac|cio's lore And Dry|den's lay | made haunt|ed ground | to me, How have | I loved | the twi|light hour | and thee! (Ill, 105) This  scansion  "unmetrical";  45  shows eight substitutions,  though  none  of them is uncommon or  without slurring there would be ten. However, my reader,  who is  sensitive to rhythm, does not have  a pencil in her hand with  which to  and deface  is not  and  her  text  as  above; she  primarily  a  metrist  chart  hence  she  hears these lines as a slowly paced and lingering melody, much of whose beauty comes  from  and "d"'s  onomatopoeic effects  (for example, the  counterpoint  of "n"'s,  in line 3), but whose base rhythm of five beats in the  "m"'s  line is the  dynamo on which the other pleasures turn. This was not the case in '"Tis time we should return  . . . "; the  pleasure  of that came from  quite other  effects,  and my reader would need her pencil to discover the rhythmic "regularity" there. In  the  stanza  above,  the  rhyme, consistently conventional and masculine  though it is, appears only as part of the rhythm, just tipping the ends of the lines as it were, and giving a slightly greater  emphasis to their final  syllable.  Despite a rhetorical counterpoint of "thee" and "me," even the couplet is almost overridden here, only the last line being separated of  it  swinging back  decisively to  the  initial  at all and "thee" at the end  phrase  for  which  it  substitutes:  "Sweet hour of twilight." The stanza is thus united in a curve of completion not  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 69  easy to achieve in ottava rima. The maestro here moves into an adagio passage which makes his listener forget for the moment his technical dexterity and tricky personality; she becomes caught up by the entranced  cadences of a music which  seems to speak for humanity itself. The  Augustan  mode  is more  common and can be  discovered with  high  frequency at the ends of stanzas which, however capriciously they may gallop or saunter through their sestet, end with primness and decorum in that snug little package, the heroic couplet: The reason's obvious: if there's an eclat, They lose their caste at once, as do the Parias; And when the delicacies of the law Have filled their papers with their comments various, Society, that china without flaw, (The hypocrite!) will banish them like Marius, To sit amidst the ruins of their guilt: For Fame's a Carthage not so soon rebuilt. (XII, 78) The  neatness  with  which  the  compromised ladies  are  disposed  of is, however,  only partly dependent on the metrical regularity of the final lines; a witty play of  "guilt"  against  "rebuilt"  is  a  more  obvious  feature  of  the  couplet's  self-conscious closure. The reader encounters whole stanzas of the Augustan type in which metre is  foregrounded  for  satiric  effect.  A  block of these  occurs  in the  Dedication,  where Byron for a while, according to George M . Ridenour and others, resorts to the high style. strongly  46  The savage  foregrounded  rhythm  indignation of these stanzas is kept in check by a which  Castlereagh with the relentlessness  beats  out  its  invective against  of the engine of torture it describes:  the  hated  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 70  A n or|ator | of such | set trash | of phrase Inefjfably  |—legit|imate|ly vile,  grossest flat|terers dare | not praise,  That ev|en its  Nor foes j—all na|tions—con|descend  | to smile,—  Not ev|en a spright|ly blunjder's spark | can blaze From that | Ixi|on grind|stone's cease|less toil, That turns | and turns | to give | the world | a no|tion Of end|less tor|ments  and | perpet|ual mo|tion. (Ded., 13)  This is not very "regular," though a fast reading would demote the first syllable of each of the  two spondees I have scanned  (in lines 1 and 4). However, the  reader is thoroughly conscious of rhythm throughout  the stanza, even before  the  overt reference to the grindstone whose cruel rotation the last four lines strive to imitate. The stresses are mostly weighted very heavily against the unstresses by means of hard consonants, often in difficult combinations, on the downbeats. 2 displays a rather different the  rhythm,  adverbs, normal  it  uses  "Ineffably" pronunciation  the  and  technique. Instead  metre  itself  to  "legitimately," are  by  a  "rhythmical  Line  of utilizing strong words to load  weight  its  words.  stretched  and  reading"  in  47  The  stressed order  polysyllabic out of their  to  fulfil  the  pentameter's formal demands. The reader finds herself unable to avoid spitting on the dentals the  as she pronounces  word's fierce  "legitimately" to fit the rhythm. This accentuates  irony and forces  her  to recollect Edmund's  subversion of the  concept of legitimacy in King Lear.** Although this stanza demonstrates as  well  contains  an imperfect rhyme  a very pointed example  ("smile . . . toil"), it  of Augustan rhyme,  "vile  . . .  smile." This is Augustan, or classical, in the same sense that the metre of line  OTTAVA 2 is: because it uses the  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  device not merely for poetic euphony,  but  I 71  for witty  rhetorical effect. The two words, "vile" and "smile," are put into parallel not by any semantic pairs  them  or syntactic machinery, but by their employment as rhyme, which artificially  for  ironic  purposes.  A  smile  evoked  by  Castlereagh's  Congress System would indeed be vile. The rhyme of "notion" with "motion" in the couplet has effect.  Although both words are  abstract nouns,  another  their rhyme is more  sort of noticeable  than that of "phrase" and "praise" above. The difference is mainly that inherent between more  feminine and masculine rhyme. In English the former is almost always  marked.  This type  of rhyme  because the eighteenth-century possible.  49  However, like  the  cannot  by  any  means be  called Augustan,  classical poets in England avoided it as much as witty Augustan clash  of "vile"  polysyllabic matching is self-reflexive, calling attention  and  "smile," this  to itself above and beyond  the signified meaning toward which it points. The  last-quoted  stanza  registers  both  its  rhythm  and  its  rhyme  important features in the mind of the reader. Many others in Don Juan only  rhyme  influential  as  a  Theory  formal of  device.  Literature,  Rene  define  Wellek three  and  Austin  functions  of  Warren, rhyme:  as  register in  its  their "mere  euphonious function," its "metrical function" and its function in the "meaning" of a poem.  50  The latter,  which is more-or-less  what I have discussed as Augustan  usage, is for them the most important. Their attitude to the former is very like Andrew Marvell's when he sneers at "tinkling rhyme" in his defence of Paradise Lost;  51  most which  the  rhymes  of the  Romantic stanza  melodiously. Wellek's and is  of  most  interest  Warren's  here.  The  quoted  earlier perform  middle function "metrical  of rhyme  function"  they  this function is the describe  one as  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 72  "signalling the conclusion of a line of verse, or as the organizer, sometimes sole organizer, of stanzaic patterns." extent  52  the  In Byron's ottava rima, almost to the same  as in that of the Italians, rhyme is what holds the  course, from one point of view, the  rhyme pattern  is the  stanza  together. Of  stanza:  the metrical  line of ottava rima in both English and Italian is the commonplace heroic line of the language. When the reader becomes aware of a distinctive poetic form while reading Don Juan, the skill  virtuoso  rhyme is almost always the device that gives her the cue. If  wants  to manipulate  without interrupting the  and elaborate  his  audience  passage with  a digression, he will  the rhyme. "Byron," suggests K a r l  form with his own personality. The presence in passages of objective narration."  into awareness of his technical usually stylize  Kroeber, "identifies his stanzaic  of the ottava rima recalls him even  This is true only up to a point; Byron can  53  turn even ottava rima into transparent narrative at times. But in a moment he can  make  reader's artifact  it opaque  attention by  again  to  means  the  with  a  stanza.  of structural  surprise  This  rhyme  subtle  elaboration,  not  which  foregrounding overt  instantly of the  rhetoric,  is  recalls  the  artifact  as  perhaps  the  most microscopic and fundamental manifestation of Romantic irony in this poem. For be  the reader then, the metrical function of rhyme is a variable. It can  backgrounded  by fast-moving  visual phenomenon  stanzas of transparent narration—reduced  at the edge of consciousness—or  unusual or unexpected shape,  to  a  it can, by taking extremely  step into the foreground, pushing the story into a  peripheral part of her attention.  Degrees of backgrounding and foregrounding will  depend partly on textual factors  and partly on the reader's mental set and level  of  concentration  relatively attentive  at  a  given  moment.  M y reader  is  not  perfect,  but  she  is  and she has a fairly open gestalt. Nevertheless, many rhymes  in  a  poem  as  not—usually—to  long be  as  Don  judged  a  Juan bad  OTTAVA  RIMA  her  as  pass  reader  for  by this.  I N DON JUAN unremarkable.  The  poem  I 73 She  contains  is  many  conventional rhymes: rhymes so common in English poetry that they are prosodic cliches. "Wild . . . child" is an example mentioned by West; in Don Juan fears"  it can be found  54  (VIII, 92), along with "heart . . . part" (XII, 22) and "tears . . .  (IV, 43), which  which includes most  are  Wellek's and Warren's  examples.  Another  55  category  of these is what Wimsatt calls "tame rhymes." In these,  "the same parts of speech are used in closely parallel function."  Nouns are  56  the  most common rhyme words; if both in a pair are concrete, say, as well as both being plural, then the rhyme's effect is reduced:  to watch the skiffs Which pass'd, or catch the first glimpse of the cliffs. (X, 64) The same rule applies to verbs, the next most common parts of speech used for rhyme. If they are not only in the same tense and mood, but also signify  the  same sort of action, their influence is small: still she gazed and grasp'd, And ran, but it escaped her as she clasp'd. (IV, 32) The reader does not exactly start with are  used mostly as  lengthy  poem  fillers,  written  surprise  something for which  in a  language  rather  at  a poet  resistant  any  of these. They  may be  forgiven in a  rhyme.  A n eight-line  to  stanza may be made to sparkle by just one or two good rhymes. On the hand,  conventional and  tame  entirely with these is well story  is  rhymes  can  be  put  to  use.  suited to transparent narration,  particularly eventful  and  the  narrator  is  allowing  A  stanza  other  composed  especially when the  reader  to  the be  OTTAVA caught up in it, drawing her his  technique.  This  is  the  attention upbeat  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  for the moment away from  of  the  poem's  pulsation  in  I 74  himself and and  out  of  self-reflexiveness:  The door flew wide, not swiftly—but, as fly The sea-gulls, with a steady, sober flight— And then swung back; nor close—but stood awry, Half letting in long shadows on the light, Which still in Juan's candlesticks burned high, For he had two, both tolerably bright, And in the door-way, darkening Darkness, stood The sable Friar in his solemn hood. ( X V I , 117)  Rich rhymes be used  (rhyming of identical phonemes ) 57  in this kind  muster—just—but  not  of context to similar so  well  as  to  call  effect.  attention  and imperfect rhymes can The end to  syllables will  themselves.  pass  Byron  often  places imperfect rhymes in one or both of the last two lines of the sestet. B y this time the alternating pattern  has been established for the reader and she is  less likely to notice inadequacies: Her eyelashes, though dark as night, were tinged (It is the country's custom), but in vain; For those large black eyes were so blackly fringed, The glossy rebels mock'd the jetty stain, And in their native beauty stood avenged: Her nails were touch'd with henna; but again The power of art was turn'd to nothing, for They could not look more rosy than before. (Ill, 75) The just,  imperfect so  that  contradiction couplet  is  rhyme,  "avenged,"  neither  the  registers a  rich  in the rhyme,  in line  cleverness reader's whose  highlighted and bolstered by the  of  5, keeps its  clinching  consciousness.  effect  the  would  be  stanza nor  intact, but  the  only  bathos  of  its  "For . . . before"  in  the  it  not  anticlimactic  were  additional rhyme with "more" in the middle of  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 75  the last line. But imperfect rhyme can be—and  very frequently  in this poem, is—used  for quite the opposite effect. In the following stanza, the reader must make last two syllables of the  the  word "vocabulary" rhyme with "merry." She is forced  to wrench and distort the pronunciation of the longer word in a way that wryly imitates what the narrator claims to be doing with his diction: Some have accused me of a strange design Against the creed and morals of the land, And trace it in this poem every line: I don't pretend that I quite understand M y own meaning when I would be very fine; But the fact is that I have nothing plann'd, Unless it were to be a moment merry, A novel word in my vocabulary. (IV, 5) The comic effect the  difficulty  at once calls attention  of finding  rhyming  words  to itself, to the within  this,  to  poet's "vocabulary," to the  bad  rhyme  with  "merry," etc. This rhymes hence  disyllabic  between much  rhyme  English  more  difficult  brings  words to  are  me  to  another  much rarer  discover and  use  than  important masculine  point.  Feminine  ones and  plausibly. Without any  of  are the  authorial prompting evident in the stanza above, the reader, coming upon even a perfect  and conventional feminine or multiple rhyme, has a greater sense of the  difficulty of the achievement than she does with most masculine rhymes. Both of the following two stanzas,  for example, perform the function of signing off with  authorial farewells toward the self-reflexive:  end of a canto,  and yet the second is far  more  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 76  He  paused—and so will I; as doth a crew Before they give their broadside. B y and bye, M y gentle countrymen, we will renew Our old acquaintance: and at least I'll try To tell you truths you will not take as true, Because they are so:—a male Mrs. F r y , With a soft besom will I sweep your halls, And brush a web or two from off the walls. (X, 84) And here I leave them at their preparation For the Imperial presence, wherein whether Gulbeyaz shewed them both commiseration, Or got rid of the parties altogether, Like other angry ladies of her nation,— Are things the turning of a hair or feather May settle; but far be't from me to anticipate In what way feminine Caprice may dissipate. (VI, 119)  Both  stanzas  demonstrate  the  use  of  the  first-person  pronoun—an  "I"  who  actually takes the role of composer of these lines and who speaks directly in an aside  to  sentence  the  reader.  Both  exhibit the  compounded with parentheses,  enjambment  and  frequent  rises  and  "talking"  effect  achieved by  and also by the  changes  the  single  use of mid-line pauses,  of pitch. For example, my  reader  reads the pronoun "me" in line 7 of the second stanza on as high a note and with as much emphasis as she does the italicized "you" in line 5 of the first. But of  the  the first stanza, at least until the couplet, where the close proximity  rhyme  "halls  .  .  .  walls"  gives  a  certain  emphasis,  requires  visual  scrutiny for full apprehension of its structure, whereas the second would establish itself  quite  clearly for  a  listener  in a  purely  auditory  rendering,  rhymes, being polysyllabic, are that much more elaborate. essentially  self-reflexive.  The  rhymes  in  this  second  58  the  "Feminine Caprice" is  stanza  surprising or unconventional; some of them, such as "anticipate are, in fact, tame rhymes  because  are  not  at  all  . . . dissipate,"  (except that the term does not seem as  appropriate  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 77  when more than one syllable is involved). A sense of stylization and ornateness accompanies English feminine rhyme, irrespective of diction and context. According to West, over three-quarters of the couplet rhymes of Don Juan  are feminine;  39  clearly a high proportion of the sestet rhymes are as well. This is a remarkable achievement in the English language and must be considered one of the  poem's  most important characteristics. Certainly it accounts in a large part for the way in  which  the  stanza  registers  itself  continually as  a  conscious factor  for  the  reader, above and beyond the way stanzaic poetry usually asserts itself. Multiple rhymes are often regarded as essentially comic in English This  is not  quite  accurate;  Hudibras  contains  many,  but  Pope,  a  far  usage.  60  greater  master of the comic mood than Butler, hardly uses them. They can be employed for superbly serious effect,  as they are by Wordsworth in the  well-known lines  from his "Ode": And by the vision splendid Is on his way attended. 61  But Juan.  Byron, 62  A  significantly, few,  almost  of course,  are  never  uses  them  to be  found,  but  in serious they  are  contexts  in Don  usually tame  conventional. A couplet like the following among the serious and elegiac  and  stanzas  that describe the love of Juan and Haidee must be searched for by the critic; it does not strike the reader as memorable or characteristic: And knew such brightness was but the reflection Of their exchanging glances of affection. (IV, 13)  Likewise, among those  stanzas  that ring with the  this sort of thing is surprisingly rare:  sincerity of saeva  indignatio,  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 78  Read your own hearts and Ireland's present story, Then feed her famine fat with Wellesley's glory. (VIII, 125)  Byron's sense of poetic decorum, despite  the  apparent rattling irresponsibility of  this poem, is a powerful and consistent force for order. When the reader is unsure, in the narrator's take  him  seriously or  not,  her  most  immediate  maze of ironies, whether clue  lies in the  rhyme.  to No  feminine rhyme occurs at all in the sixteen stanzas of the Greek poet's stirring hymn, after  "The Isles of Greece,"  63  though  the  poet  himself is pilloried before  and  in masses of multiple rhymes. Poets and poetry are the objects of Byron's  satire  here,  contains.  not  Stanzas  the  revolutionary  with  no  feminine  call  to  rhymes  arms  and  liberty  that  the  occur in significant places  song  in Don  Juan,  for example, a whole block describing the death of the old Khan of Ismail  (VIII,  115-20); some on George Washington and Daniel Boone (VIII, 5, 63); on  Juan's and Haidee's doomed but ideal love (II, 184-91); on Haidee's tragic death (IV, 55-63, 69-72); on Aurora Raby ( X V , 45-47); the  "Ave M a r i a " passage at  the conclusion of Canto III (105-09); a section on Norman Abbey (XIII, 59-61); certain stanzas on death (IX, 11-12; V , 36, 39); and a few on the transience of youth and love and life's inexplicability (IV, 15-17; V , 98; IX, 19; X I V , 94; X V , 19). In these places, the subject is serious, the narrator for the moment and the beauty of the verse, if it is noticeable at all, is of a sparer irrelevantly ornate kind than is normal in Don Juan.  sincere  and less  When the narrator claims:  I wish men to be free As much from mobs as kings—from you as me (IX, 25),  the  reader  is  sure  that  he  is  not  pulling  her  leg,  and  this  is  not  merely  OTTAVA because  she  RIMA  knows Byron's biography or is sensitive  I N DON JUAN  to the  tone  I 79  of emphatic  repetition here; it is also because the rhyme is masculine. Many  of the  narrative  stanzas  use  masculine  rhymes  too,  for  reasons  which I have already indicated. But only the wholly narrative stanzas, which are relatively rare, use masculine rhymes throughout. have  called  Ariosto's  pattern,  the  following  In those  type  of  which follow what  rhyme  scheme  is  I  very  common: The shore look'd wild, without a trace of man, And girt by formidable waves; but they Were mad for land, and thus their course they ran, Though right ahead the roaring breakers lay: A reef between them also now began To show its boiling surf and bounding spray, But finding no place for their landing better, They ran the boat for shore, and overset her. (II, 104) The couplet's rueful irony is almost completely dependent on its rhyme—a rhyme which is feminine, broken, imperfect and surprising after a sestet which follows a conventional  masculine  pattern.  The  question,  "Will  he  bring  it  off?"  followed by the answer, "Yes; but only just," is the mental set of the of  a  virtuoso, or  an  acrobat.  This  slight tension  in the  reader  closely audience  is what  the  Romantic ironist strives for; it is what reminds the reader, even in the midst of story-centred label,  narration, of the presence  "transparent  with  wholly  masculine rhyme-schemes, does not quite fit the stanza above, though the  verse's  self-reflexiveness imperfection  narration,"  which  of a narrator, juggling with words. The I  have  used  is subtle, being covertly embedded  of form  rather  than  overtly announced,  for  stanzas  in a slight exaggeration as in many other  and  stanzas,  by the strident use of the narrative "I." Multiple  rhymes, like masculine ones, exhibit degrees of self-reflexiveness,  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 80  from the more tame and conventional to the startling and unorthodox. The most self-reflexive  are  usually broken  word or of fragments of words.  rhymes:  64  rhymes  made  up  of more  than  one  West writes:  "Wild" and "child" rhyming together merely create a framework; and to our awareness of the similarity we add little care for the conjoined ideas. But if "Adorer" elicits "there before her," our sense of a framework is flooded with a sense of something on the level of thought. 65  These rhymes do not give the reader the sense of being already "there" in the language, but of being specially manufactured for the occasion. They are not to be found in the rhyming dictionary; nor can the most astonishing ever be used twice, so well do they  establish themselves in the  reader's  memory. The most  famous of Byron's comic broken rhymes is probably the following: But—Oh! ye lords of ladies intellectual, Inform us truly, have they not hen-pecked you all? (I, 22) However, many others are equally clever, for example: Through needles' eyes it easier for the camel is To pass, than those two cantos into families (IV, 97); There's not a sea the passenger e'er pukes in, Turns up more dangerous breakers than the Euxine. (V, 5)  These  are  extreme  examples  of  a  tendency  within  rhyme  to  enforce  connections between concepts which may not be logical but which are at least as persuasive  as  logic.  66  The  kind  of  parallelism  evident  in  the  rhyme  "intellectual . . . hen-pecked you a l l " is the soul of conversational wit: it makes the epigrammatic utterance  whose formal fitting together  will not allow it to be  OTTAVA gainsaid, reader,  unless Byron  capped  attempts  by to  another, throw  even  her  RIMA  wittier  off the  I N DON JUAN  saying."  scent  at  Playing  times by  I 81  with  his  claiming  for  rhyme the euphonic function alone: *  Besides Platonic love, besides the love Of God, the love of Sentiment, the loving Of faithful pairs—(I needs must rhyme with dove, That good old steamboat which keeps verses moving 'Gainst Reason—Reason ne'er was hand-and-glove With rhyme, but always leant less to improving The sound than sense)—besides all these pretences To Love, there are those things which Words name Senses. (IX, 74)  Rhyme does not need the aid of Reason; it can be on its own a more effective rhetorical  device. Also,  "improving  /  The  sound"  is  not  a  thing this  cynical  virtuoso needs any help with. However he may protest incompetence, his reader knows that he is lying. Having pulled out all the stops on his instrument with a  masterful  agility  which  is  quite  unprecedented  in the  language,  he  is  not  expecting to be credited with truth when he claims that he "needs must rhyme with dove." What he is expecting is to make his audience aware of the difficulty  of his form, to show her that the sense of effortlessness  of extraordinary effort  and  that  the  transparent  achieved by mastery of a style. About Don Juan,  narrative  itself  sheer  is the result is  an  illusion  Virginia Woolf has truthfully  written: "It doesn't seem an easy example to follow; and indeed like all free and easy things, only the skilled and mature really bring them off successfully."  68  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 82  NOTES TO C H A P T E R II 'Gerard Genette, Narrative  Discourse (Ithaca: Cornell U P , 1980) 34.  'Roland Barthes, S/Z (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1970) 27. I translate: "un fading immense, qui assure d la fois le chevauchement et la perte des messages." . For Hegel, see chapter I, note 5. Barthes, in "From Work to Text," compares reading with an activity of "playing the Text in the musical sense of the term." He goes on to claim that the "history of music (as a practice, not as an 'art') does indeed parallel that of the Text fairly closely." Image-Music-Text (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977) 162. 3  This is a phrase of Coleridge's from Biographia Literaria, where he associates the sense of sight with dead materialism. Throughout his writings, Coleridge expresses an uneasiness with "this strong sensuous influence," which makes human beings "restless because invisible things are not the objects of vision." The Complete Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge III (New York: Harper, 1884) 226. 4  W. K . Wimsatt, Jr. and Monroe C. Beardsley, "The A n Exercise in Abstraction," PMLA L X X I V , 1 (1959): 584. S  'See Barthes, "From Work to Text" : "In fact, consuming, is far from playing with the text" (162).  Concept of Meter:  reading,  in the  sense of  'Barthes, "From Work to Text" 162. The recognition that some works of criticism are not only works of the imagination but also works of fiction is not new. Graham Hough, for example, in An Essay on Criticism (New York: Norton, 1966), claims that Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism "is itself poetry, one of the cases, not very common, where what sets out to be criticism turns into imaginative literature in its own right" (154). 8  'This Cornell U P , signifies the which is not  term, coined by Seymour Chatman in Story and Discourse (Ithaca: 1978) as a counterpart to Booth's "implied author" (see next note), self one becomes when one "enterfs] the fictional contract"—a self one's normal identity, but a fiction generated by the text (150-51).  Wayne Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1983) 70-71. The "implied author" is the "official version" of the author, traces of whom, as distinct from both the "so-called real author" and the narrator, are to be found in his books. See chapter V I for a discussion of the relationship between these three subjects in Don Juan. 10  "Barbara 1968) 55. n  Reuven  Herrnstein  Tsur,  in A  Smith,  Poetic  Closure  Perception-Oriented  (Chicago:  U  Theory of Metre  of  Chicago  (Tel Aviv:  P,  Tel  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 83  Aviv U P , 1977), claims that in the case of "metrically complex" lines, "one must explicitly state in what specific performance a deviant line is perceived as sufficiently structured." Realizing that metre is dependent on "delivery style," which may vary from a totally prosaic or "divergent" reading to a highly metrical or "convergent" reading, Tsur is unfortunately handicapped by a vagueness contingent on the multiplicity of readings—and hence, scansions—that his system will tolerate (122). However, his perception that metre is (at least, partly) a measure of performance rather than of some abstract rule make this a valuable book. Rene Wellek and Austin Warren in Theory of Literature (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1949) avoid problems of multiplicity by distinguishing "between performance and pattern of sound." Performance, which they interpret as the "reading aloud of a literary work of art" and presumably separate from the audience, they claim to be the "realization of a pattern which adds something individual and personal and, on the other hand, may distort or even entirely ignore the pattern." They conclude that "a real science of rhythmics and metrics cannot be based on the study of individual recitals" (159). Of course, these authors, like Wimsatt and Beardsley (see note 5), believe in the singular, objective existence of the text, independent of the reading mind which must bring it into being. Similar epistemologies are indicated by Roger Fowler, who writes at length about "the inadequacy of a purely phonetic approach for making critical statements about poetic form" ('"Prose Rhythm' and Metre," Essays on Style and Language (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966) 83); by C. S. Lewis, who, with a similarly mechanical view of "phonetics," claims that "when we ask how a line scans we cannot be asking simply for the phonetic facts which occur when it is pronounced" ("Metre," Review of English Literature I, i (1960): 45); by Seymour Chatman, who writes that "variations [in delivery styles] imply norms" ("Comparing Metrical Styles," Style in Language, ed. Thomas A . Sebeok (Cambridge: M.I.T. P, 1964) 149) and is recorded as asserting that "the meter of a poem must be considered one thing and the performance another" ("Comments to Part Five," Sebeok 200). "Hamlet I, i i , 1.129. "Tsur 122. ""Lexical words are nouns, adjectives and some adverbs." they are the important semantic elements of a sentence. Paul 1960) 27. l6  West, Byron  and  the Spoiler's  Art  (London: Chatto  Tsur 22. I.e., and Windus,  Anne K . Mellor, English Romantic Irony (Cambridge: Harvard U P , 1980) 61; Jerome J . McGann, Don Juan in Context (Chicago: Chicago U P , 1976) 96-97. 17  "According to Donald Wesling in The Chances of Rhyme (Berkeley: U of California P, 1980), the couplet is "the most memorable rhyme form, because of its maximal closure and its more regular arrangement of words as units of unequal length" (77). See also chapter I note 12. On the subject of prosodic memorability as it is governed by perception,  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 84  Tsur (122-23) quotes Leonard B . Meyer in Emotion and Meaning in Music (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1956) 86-91, who in turn quotes from Koffka's Principles of Gestalt Psychology (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1935) 110. The gestalt law that they invoke is the "law of Pragnanz," which states that "psychological organization will always be as 'good' as the prevailing conditions allow." "'Good'" is described in terms of "regularity, symmetry, simplicity and others." According to this law, the mind tends to distort shapes in the direction of completeness, stability, regularity and simplicity. Tsur claims that "the law of Pragnanz governs both memory and expectation." Meyer is more expansive: this law, he says, "functions within the memory process, which tends to complete what was incomplete, to regularize what was irregular, and so forth. Moreover, those shapes which are not well figured and which memory is unable to 'straighten out,' complete, or make symmetrical, will tend to be forgotten." For further discussion of this duality, see chapter IV. TJie sestet-couplet dichotomy bears a relationship to the narrativedigression + commentary dichotomy, which is both synecdochic and metaphoric. The part represents the whole and also resembles it. Here, as throughout this dissertation, I challenge the binary dualism detween metaphor and metonymy proposed by Roman Jacobson in "Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances," Fundamentals of Language (The Hague: Mouton, 1980) 90-96, and developed (but not sustained) by David Lodge in The Modes of Modern Writing (London: Edward Arnold, 1977) 81. If synecdoche is a type of metonymy (Jacobson 92) or is "closely associated with metonymy" (Lodge 75), it must neverthless overlap with or be intimately related to metaphor as well. Both metaphor and metonymy are probably better seen as areas of concentration on a continuum than as mutually exclusive closed sets. In chapter III, I characterize symbol both as a synecdochic trope in which an image is presented as part of some more cosmic whole, and as a type of metaphor in which the tenor is omitted, or is suggested in a particularly vague and numinous manner. (A symbol may, of course, be represented by a simile-synecdoche, though its status in the discourse is then usually more tentative or experimental than when it is signified by a metaphor-synecdoche.) Lodge mysteriously agrees with me on the subject of symbol, calling it at one point "a kind of metaphorical metonymy" (100). A t another he distinguishes two different classes of symbol: the "metaphorical" and the "metonymic" (114). 19  See M . K . Joseph, Byron the Poet (London: Victor Gollancz, Also, chapter I V of this dissertation. J0  1964)  198.  "Barthes claims that "the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author" (148). The "Author," who is merely the result of a transcendental belief which suits critics because it allows them the possibility of "explaining]" the text (147), is actually "conceived of as the past of his own book . . . . [He] is thought to nourish the book, which is to say that he exists before it, suffers, lives for it, is in the same relation to his work as a father to his child" (145). Don Juan's author-narrator is conceived of as the present of his own book and is hence very problematic if the reader, following Barthes's instructions, tries to read the poem "in such a way that at all levels the author is absent" (145). "The Death of the Author," Image-Music-Text.  OTTAVA "Peter Conrad, Shandyism  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 85  (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978) 49.  "See chapter I. "Occasionally, in the introductory stanzas of cantos, Ariosto also turns the canto upside-down, beginning with reflection or invocation and concluding with narrative. However, the process seldom exhibits a sudden change of tone in the couplet; it usually moves gradually from the narrator's comments through the reader's perceptions to a somewhat generalized narrative statement. The following stanza, for example, begins with a rhetorical question: what cannot Love do, if he can make the the great Orlando a traitor? (11.1-4). This is, of course, an aside between narrator and reader. Then the reader is reminded (factually, but retrospectively) of what Orlando once was: wise, defender of the Church, etc. (11.5-6). Finally, in a completion of this same sentence, the reader is told—narratively—in the couplet, of Orlando's present neglect of himself, his king and his God:  Che non puo far d'un cor ch'abbia suggetto questo crudele e taditore Amore, poi ch'ad Orlando puo levar del petto la tanta fe che debbe al suo signore? Gia savio e piena fu d'ogni rispetto, e de la santa Chiesa difensore: or per un vano amor, poco del zio o di se poco, e men cura di Dio.  Orlando furioso I X , i (Milano: Riccardo Ricciardi, 1954) 172. "George 125-26.  M . Ridenour,  The Style of Don Juan  (USA: Yale  UP,  1969)  "In The Rhythms of English Poetry (London: Longman, 1982), Derek Attridge argues that one of the distinguishing features of the five-beat line is that it is easily run on 132-38. Joseph Malof, in A Manual of English Meters (Bloomington: Indiana U P , 1970), claims that "most lines of more than three stresses tend to break into sections, usually two" (10). "According to Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle in their seminal work on linguistics, The Sound Pattern of English (New York: Harper and Row, 1968), the "Alternating Stress Rule," which demands that every second syllable be stressed, is one of the fundamental rules of English pronunciation (77-79). "This stanza is all of a piece until the last line, which is somewhat separate from the preceding seven. I have found very few stanzas of this type in Don Juan—and, indeed, in ottava rima anywhere—because the two lines of the couplet have such a strong affinity for each other and such an antipathy for the alternating structures which precede them. However, W. H . Auden gives significant place to this variation of the octave. He writes: "The stanza divides  OTTAVA by rhyme into a group of six either observe this division and the first part, or he can take as a punch line." "Don Juan," Random House, 1962) 399.  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 86  lines followed by a coda of two; the poet can use the couplet as an epigrammatic comment on seven lines for his theme and use the final one The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays (New York:  "See Wellek and Warren 165; Fowler 82. See John Jump, Byron (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972) 97; Mellor 61; West 62; Alvin Kernan, The Plot of Satire (New Haven: Yale U P , 1965) 179; McGann, Don Juan in Context 96. 30  "According to Paul Fussell in Poetic Meter and Poetic Form (New York: Random House, 1979), "In the first position trochaic substitution is extremely common—indeed, this one variation is the most common in all English poetry" (49). On the other hand, he claims that trisyllabic substitution is the mark of "rejection of strict accentual-syllabism in favour of accentualism" and that it is the "great phenomenon in nineteenth-century English versification": a rebellion against the stricter metres of the preceding century (71). "Malof uses the term "ionic" (36, 69). "See Fussell 44. "Attridge 186. He does not use the term "ionic," but phenomenon in some detail as an example of "pairing" (175-86).  examines  the  "See Attridge 168. "William Wordsworth, Oxford U P , 1971) 164.  "Tintern  Abbey"  1.191,  Poetical  Works  (London:  "Tsur, in response to a claim by Wimsatt and Beardsley that only in an ionic foot may consecutive stresses occur, cites a great quantity of linguistic evidence for the existence of the spondee (132-41). He concludes that "there seems to be no reason why two or three or four heavy stresses, articulated exactly in the same way, shouldn't follow one another." Important conditions "for the listener to infer" a spondaic metrical pattern are "slow tempo and careful articulation" on the part of the performer (135). These conditions, by reducing the unit of speech to one syllable, put Chomsky's "Alternating Stress Rule" out of action. "West 63. McGann claims, similarly, that "Byron's use of series of the poem's staple devices." Don Juan in Context 95.  [is] one  'See Truman Guy Steffan, Byron's Don Juan I: The Making of a Masterpiece (Austin: U of Texas P, 1957) 63-99. Also, my discussion of Byron's accumulative tendency in chapter I V . 3  'The Letters of  W. B.  Yeats  (London: Rupert  Hart  Davis,  1954)  710.  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 87  Ronald Bottrall in "Byron and the Colloquial Tradition in English Poetry" also claims that the "amazing variety of tone and tremendous rhythmic energy of Don Juan come from Byron's complete understanding of the spoken language." English Romantic Poets, ed. M . H . Abrams (London: Oxford U P , 1971) 221. W . K . Wimsatt in "One Relation of Rhyme to Reason," claims that "the greater the difference in meaning between rhyme words the more marked and the more appropriate will be the binding effect." The Verbal Icon (Kentucky: U of Kentucky P , 1954) 164. 41  Malof 194. Actually, the last syllable of "Banishment" is not, in comparison with its immediate predecessor, an unstress. On the Trager-Smith scale, "ment" would be classed as a "tertiary" stress, "ish" as "weak" and "Ban," "primary." George L . Trager and Henry Lee Smith, Jr., An Outline of English Structure (Washington: Americal Council of Learned Societies, 1966) 35-39. 42  Trager and Smith (35-39) claim four levels of stress in English pronunciation. However, this has been disputed, for example, by Wimsatt, who claimed (in oral debate) that "in English there is a kind of continuum of stresses." Sebeok, "Comments to Part Five" 204. 43  Thomas Moore writes in his journal on October 27, 1820: "Wordsworth came at half-past eight, and stopped to breakfast. Talked a good deal. Spoke of Byron's plagiarisms from him; the whole third canto of 'Childe Harold' founded on his style and sentiments. The feeling of natural objects which is there expressed, not caught by B . from nature herself, but from him (Wordsworth), and spoiled in the transmission. 'Tintern Abbey' the source of it all; from which same poem too the celebrated passage about Solitude, in the first canto of 'Childe Harold', is (he said) taken, with this difference, that what is naturally expressed by him, has been worked by Byron into a laboured and antithetical sort of declamation." The . Journal of Thomas Moore (London: Batsford, 1964) 53-54. 44  The three anapaests I have scanned in lines 1, 3 and 5 could all be reduced to iambs by a pronunciation with a marked "y-glide": "immemor-yal," "Adr-yan," "Cesar-yan." In my reader's rendering they are a little more distinct than dipthong vowels. In line 2, I have scanned an ionic in the first position, which, as mentioned previously, is a respectable double substitution. The initial trochee, which I mark in lines 4, 6 and 8, is perhaps the most "acceptable" substitution of all. (See Wimsatt in Sebeok, "Comments to Part Five" 206.) 45  Ridenour offers a fine stylistic analysis of Don Juan's Dedication in the first chapter of The Style of Don Juan (1-18), in which he claims that some of these stanzas are in the heroic style of Juvenal This claim is supported by McGann (Don Juan in Context 68-99) and by Mellor (63). 46  47  Tsur  122.  'King Lear I, i i , 11.15-22.  OTTAVA "'George Saintsbury, Russell and Russell, 1961), great a breach, too great rhymes are chosen with as the words within the lines (282). i0  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 88  in A History of English Prosody II (New York: claims that in the heroic couplet "not to make too a rupture of smoothness, between the lines, the little echo and depth in them as possible: and even themselves avoid thunderous and longdrawn sound"  Wellek and Warren 161.  "Andrew Marvell, Oxford U P , 1973) 210.  "On  Paradise  Lost,"  Milton:  Poetical  Works (London:  "Wellek and Warren 161. " K a r l Kroeber, Romantic Narrative Art  (Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1960)  147. "West 60. "Wellek and Warren 162. "Wimsatt, "One Relation of Rhyme to Reason" 160. " M a l o f 193. ""Anticipate . . . dissipate" is actually a rich rhyme as well as a tame rhyme. "West 68. Jump claims that "our comic poetry seems to accommodate multiple rhymes more readily than does our serious poetry" (99). See also Saintsbury III, 100. 60  "Wordsworth, "Ode," Poetical Works 460. The attended" is slightly imperfect in most pronunciations.  rhyme  "splendid  .  .  .  "Jump notes this (131). "Canto III, between octaves 86 and 87. " M a l o f 195. Byron's most spectacularly unconventional rhyme is "broken" in another way:  OTTAVA  RIMA  I N DON JUAN  I 89  She cannot step as does an Arab barb, Or Andalusian girl from mass returning, Nor wear as gracefully as Gauls her garb, Nor in her eye Ausonia's glance is burning; Her voice, though sweet, is not so fit to warble those bravuras (which I still am learning To like, though I have been seven years in Italy, And have, or had, an ear that served me prettily). (XII, 75)  This fragmenting of "warble" marks one of the rare occasions in Don Juan when a line begins half-way through a word. Another example of this occurs at I, 120, where "henceforward" is broken into its components by a line-ending. This example is much less startling for the reader because both elements, "hence" and "forward," are normally complete words. "West 60. His example ("Adorer . . . there before her") is from lxxxvii, The Poetical Works of Lord Byron (London: Oxford U P , 1926) 623.  Beppo  "Wesling calls rhyme "the boldest form of rhetoric" (5) and he wonders whether rhyming words might "be related, somehow, in convergent meaning as well as similar sound" (39). A good example of this kind of wit is quoted by Byron in a footnote to the eleventh stanza of Don Juan's Dedication. Challenged to find a rhyming riposte to: 6 7  I, John Sylvester, L a y with your Sister, Ben Jonson answered: "I, Ben Jonson, lay with your protested that that was not rhyme, Jonson answered: Poetical Works 894.  wife." When Sylvester "No; but it is true."  "Virginia Woolf, A Writer's Diary (London: Hogarth, 1959) 4. -  C H A P T E R III  SIMILE  Metre, rhyme and stanza achieve other its  a pulsation between  are  not  transparent  stylistic and rhetorical strategies  subject-matter,  Even  such  the  mechanical  narrator tools  only devices in Don Juan  and opaque foreground  and the  as  the  modes  punctuation  of discourse.  and background the  protagonist, can  the  assist  which*  reader in  and  Many  text the  and story.  highlighting certain  self-conscious effects, as, for example, when brackets are used instead of a more casual willow"  pair  of  parenthetic  ( X V I , 15).  More  following couplet, refer  commas: semantic  "Below  his  window waved  contrivances,  like  the  (of  second  denotatively to some sensorily apprehended  course)  line  of  aspect  text, making it opaque thus: "Bombs, drums, guns, bastions, batteries,  a the  of the  bayonets,  bullets; / Hard words, which stick in the soft Muses' gullets" (VII, 78). Somewhere  in  between  the  structural  or  mechanical  extreme  and  the  rhetorical or semantic limit, occur the literary tropes, whose definition depends on both their structure and their reference. If the tropes used in a literary text are commonplace, transparency. eventually  like  commonplace  rhymes  Commonplace tropes,  lose  their  concrete  for  they  example  quality  90  and  do the  join  not  affect  so-called "dead the  ranks  of  the  text's  metaphor," atmospheric  S I M I L E / 91 abstractions: vague words which tend by convention to be associated with certain ideas or moods. The following is not quite a dead metaphor, but it is a simile which  uses  a  highly  conventional  image—an  image  which  calls  very  little  attention to itself aside from the human figure in the story which it is employed to illustrate: "And, like  a wither'd lily,  on the  land / His slender frame  and  pallid aspect lay" (II, 110). However, if a trope is highly unusual, it gives the reader a slight pause and draws her attention to the image (the vehicle), rather than  to the  self-reflexive  thing or device.  concept  When  1  it  the  illuminates (the  narrator  tenor);  envisages  the  thus  London  it  serves  as  mail-coaches  a as  "fast flying off like a delusion" (XI, 22), the reader is caught by surprise with "delusion"; it is the artifact of a virtuoso, and she must stop for a moment to admire  it. In  the  following  trope,  the  first  vehicle becomes  the  tenor  for  a  second vehicle: "The gentle Juan flourished, though at times / He felt like other plants called Sensitive, / Which shrink from touch, as monarchs do from rhymes" (X,  37). If the sensitive plants be not enough to startle the reader  contemplation  of  the  tenor  (Juan),  then  the  sensitive  out of her  monarchs  will  surely  succeed. All  the  tropes  quoted  in the  paragraph  above  are  which is the figure most often foregrounded in Don Juan. miniature,  a flash  swiftly  over,  children  are  troops  as  of imagery, sharp when  "Crimson  the as  reader cleft  or faint, is  told  the  (III,  cheeks 33),  "Took like camelions, some slight tinge of fear"  of simile,  Simile may occur in  to illustrate some  that  pomegranates"  examples  or  (VIII,  point  passed  of certain  Greek  that Koutousow's 73); but it may  equally well take on epic proportions and be developed through several like the  famous  bottle of champagne  with which  Lady  stanzas,  Adeline is compared in  S I M I L E / 92 Canto XIII (36-41). The shorter power  to  similes  prompt  are  narrator, the  often  reader  gateways  briefly into  into consciousness  realms  of  of the  speculation  text;  on  the  the  part  the  longer of  the  trigger-mechanisms that propel him out of absorption in the story into  freer  atmosphere  elaborated  and  parallel,  so  original  tenor  necessarily become  the  similes, like some of Byron's rhymes, have  of  his  own  discursive  developed,  and  new  images  the  be  reader's of  the  drawn  absorbed  by  imagination comparison.  towards the  the  and But  text  images  world.  are  brought  memory her  As  an  image  in by  association  are  lured  away  attention  may  (reflexively) by this  themselves,  or  by  a  becomes or  from  the  not  always  or  process.  She  different  may  world—the  narrator's—which bears no obvious relationship to that of the story at this point. Sometimes the return to the story will come as a surprise and hence make the text  reflexive, but  point  in the  sometimes  story,  and  the  there will  be no return  excursion  will  have  to the  acted  as  exact jumping-off an  excuse  for  a  transition or hiatus in the narrating. Thus, the frozen champagne simile leads to an image of cruising in freezing waters, from there to a more cosmic image of life as a voyage and Time as a pirate with "grey signal-flag," and finally to a metaphysical debate on mortality. The return  to the  story  is not  a return  to  Adeline, but to a transitional resetting of scenery: "The English winter . . . now was done" (XIII, 42). Several  of  the  major  digressions  in Don  Juan  begin  in  this  way  as  similes. For example, in Canto I (122-34), five stanzas are devoted to a series of far  propositions beginning: "'Tis sweet," . . .  is  first  and  passionate  followed by one beginning: "But sweeter love."  This  comparison  simile  comparing first  of  inequality  is  Q  transformed  in  its  turn  by  another  love  with  Adam's  S I M I L E / 93 remembrance of his Fall, then another, comparing Adam's sin with Prometheus's theft  of fire,  stanzas  on  and then the narrator launches into a meditation of six-and-a-half modern  scientific  discoveries  and  the  strangeness  mortality, no longer in the form of simile. When he returns months of its time have Julia the  which generated narrator,  passed  since the  the initial "first  beginning by telling the  of  men  and  to his story,  five  sexual encounter between Juan  and  love" comparison. In Canto V I (55-57), reader  that Dudu was "kind  and gentle  as / The Age of Gold," goes on into a stanza and a half of speculation on ages and  their appropriate metals. He then spends another  six lines apologising and  haranguing the reader about his "long parenthesis," before returning to the story. This  time,  he  goes  back  to  where  he  left  the  plot and  continues narrating,  though (because of the parenthesis) the reader finds the story for a while much more opaque than before:  'Tis time we should return to plain narration, And thus my narrative proceeds: —Dudu, With every kindness short of ostentation, Shewed Juan, or Juanna, through and through This labyrinth of females. (VI, 57) Although  the  digressions in Don Juan  vary,  they  are  more  frequently  reflexive in this way, at their ends, than in their beginnings. The narrator likes to  coax his reader  by  easy  stages down  the  garden  path  and into the  wild  wood; only when she is well and truly lost will he suddenly call attention to the geography of the place. Hence, simile is a useful device for him, since by its very  nature it intrudes  an alien image into the  text, which  can appear  quite  innocent and necessary to the story until, by a subtle shifting of emphasis and a small sleight of hand, it replaces the story's landscape with a new and foreign  S I M I L E / 94 world. Simile, as theorists from Aristotle to Ricoeur have noticed, is very closely related  to  metaphor.  However,  although  simile  often  takes  the  form  of  a  metaphor "reduced" or "expanded" (depending on one's prejudices) by the addition of a comparative term, it is not a subclass of metaphor, since some similes are not, and cannot be, "compressed or converted into metaphors." explicit,  "literal"  and  discursive than  metaphors;  3  also,  2  as  Similes are more  Winifred  Nowottny  claims, they tend to "[suggest] an aspect under which one might temporarily look at a thing or an idea one might toy with but not care fully reader easily poem which which  he  fictions reader  sees why they suit Byron's purposes in Don Juan, unfolds in the  can explain  and  to assert."  what  simultaneously  present he  tense,  giving the  is doing while  (or  subsequently)  the creating process during (or only  narrator  for this is a  a time-frame in  doing it (or just  undermine  them,  a little later than)  The  4  after),  and  create  show  the  the moment of  creation. A simile suggests more of a process than the fait accompli presented by most symbols and metaphors. "Where metaphor assumes that the transference is possible or has already taken place," writes Terence Hawkes, "simile proposes the transference,  and explains it by means of terms such as 'like' or 'if.'"  5  This is  not to say that Byron avoids the use of metaphor or symbol. The categories of simile,  metaphor  and  symbol  all  intersect—or  are  continuous  with  one  another—and he tends to use similes where metaphors would be interchangeable, and to create symbols in the linguistic form of similes. Where another Romantic poet  might  present  a  symbol  in  ferment undissected in a reader's  all its  enigmatic mystery  and  leave  mind, Byron—at least, in Don Juan—is  inclined to explain it in terms of a stated analogy.  it  to  more  S I M I L E / 95 For the  sun  example,  in  Coleridge, in "The Rime  significant and  mysterious  of the  tones,  as  Ancient  if it were  Mariner," invokes the  vehicle of a  metaphor whose tenor is not immediately given:  A l l in a hot and copper sky, The bloody sun, at noon, Right up above the mast did stand, No bigger than the moon. 6  "The  bloody sun" is imbued with  slightly  uncanny qualities and  not obviously accounted for by its role in the something else, as the vehicle of a metaphor  bears  a  and more difficult  power, or watchfulness minimum. In Don Juan,  well  as  for"  "stands for" its tenor, and indeed  to envisage than  synecdochic relationship as  importance  story. It appears to "stand  it does this, the sense of wonder which surrounds is greater  an  it suggesting that this" tenor  the vehicle. Thus the sun image a  metaphoric  relationship to  some  (if one must formulate this), while discursiveness is at a a similar symbol is made more explicit:  That large black prophet eye seem'd to dilate And follow far the disappearing sun, As if their last day of a happy date With his broad, bright, and dropping orb were gone. (IV, 22) The fact that the tenor is explicitly suggested  ("As if their last day . . . were  gone") makes the critic more likely to classify this trope on first examination as a metaphor as  a  and, on second examination, after  simile. And yet the of that  trope  numinous  considering the effect of " A s if,"  is classifiable as quality called  by  symbol, too, because  it does  possess  some  Coleridge "translucence"  because  its vehicle exists not in a metaworld but synecdochically, in the  world as the lovers to whom it is symbolically related.  7  and same  S I M I L E / 96 Coleridge tends (in prose) to sneer at "mere simile, the work of my own fancy,"  and even, on occasion, at  8  metaphor,  in the  9  process  of his  polemical  defence of symbol. His conception of symbol as a form of synecdoche, as Paul de M a n makes clear, is not borne out by his own, or other Romantics' habitual use of tropes, which is more often analogical than synecdochic.  10  Of the English  high Romantics, only Blake in his shorter poems consistently posits a symbol in all its translucent mystery and leaves it at that; poets of the  late  nineteenth-  and  the  twentieth  whom the trope became really important. which  led them all to use  11  similes with  the Symboliste and symbolist  century  were  the  writers for  The Romantics had a discursive bent  12  frequency,  usually  for the  purpose of  elaborating some central symbol or story. Many of these are very familiar: "Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth"; "The City now doth, like a wear  /  The beauty  painted ocean."  of the  morning";  " A s idle  as  a painted  garment,  ship / Upon  a  13  However, their most important tendency—which Byron does not share —is 14  not toward either simile or symbol per se, but toward a kind of metaphor which makes  connections  between  external  and  internal  worlds,  which  landscapes in terms of spiritual states and spiritual states in terms processes confusions.  and 15  which  intermingles  the  Wordsworth demonstrates  two this  by in  means  the  of  following  presents of natural  deliberate extract  category from  The  Prelude: Sometimes the ambitious Power of choice, mistaking Proud spring-tide swellings for a regular sea, Will settle on some British theme, some old Romantic tale by Milton left unsung. 16  Wordsworth's organic interweaving of the sea image with the discourse is rather  S I M I L E / 97 different  from  the  method of the  following  stanza  from  Don Juan,  which  also  deals with the subject of poetic composition: You know, or don't know, that great Bacon saith, "Fling up a straw, 'twill show which way the wind blows"; And such a straw, borne on by human breath, Is Poesy, according as the mind glows; A paper kite, which flies 'twixt life and death, A shadow which the onward Soul behind throws; And mine's a bubble, not blown up for praise, But just to play with, as an infant plays. (XIV, 8)  The between of  the  narrator ^ f Don Juan  discrimination  things than Wordsworth's type of organicism will allow—at least, time. His penchant  level, for the and  is an ironist needing a sharper  is for contrastive parallelism  most  on a highly conscious  finding or forcing of similitudes in an endlessly various universe,  the creation of effects  ranging from  a sense of monstrous  incongruency or  hiatus, through the varying surprises of concordia discors and discordia concors to a heartening though rare perception of the cosmic connectedness of things. Hence, simile  is  for  him a  much  more  fundamental  tendency  than  for  most  of his  contemporaries, since it asserts not identity or interpenetration, but similarity, and similarities can be evanescent and are very various in degree and kind. Simile is an  experimental form, one which will allow him to play with possibilities, as he  does in the stanza above, in which the game with alternative similes (a "straw," a "paper kite," a "shadow," a "bubble") comes itself under self-reflexive scrutiny in the last line, where the final image of an infant playing is the vehicle of a metaphor for which the tenor is the mode of composition of the stanza—and, by extension, of the whole poem. This simile, "to play . . .  as an infant plays," in which the tenor is the  poet's playing and the vehicle is an infant's  playing, falls  into that section of  S I M I L E / 98 simile  which  overlaps  with metaphor  or, to quote the Princeton Encyclopedia of  Poetry and Poetics, can be "compressed or converted into [a metaphor]." In fact, all the  images  in the  "such a straw nonetheless  . . .  that  stanza  exist within  is poesy" be indeed a metaphor  kind  of metaphor,  expanded  into  [simile]."  expanded.  The  addition of "like"  would  much more  be  this intersection of the  17  Clearly,  to  quote  the  and not a simile, it is  same  source,  Wordsworth's metaphor or  "as"  to  his  two sets. If  which  cannot  be  "can be so  easily  "Proud spring-tide swellings"  complicated because  attributions  rather  aspect  of  in  stanza  and  away  than  objects  are  being substituted. Another towards  simile  this  first  from  trope  metaphor  Byron's  is  the  specificity  which of  the  draws  it  vehicle.  Although what is mentioned is not a particular straw, it is a very special type of straw, the type invoked by Bacon, and no other. The effect of the adjectival addition, "such," to the word "straw" in its second occurrence is rather like that of  a demonstrative:  "claiming our by  this straw.  It mutes  recognition" and  G . Rostrevor Hamilton  to  like  a  new-tuned  influence of the  "pointing]" to the the  terms of the similes in Don Juan. was  the  definite  article.  object, 18  This  When the narrator  harpsichord"  (XIII,  93),  indefinite article,  characteristics  ascribed  is worth pursuing in  tells us that "Strongbow the  two  terms  of  the  metaphor-simile exist on totally different levels of generality. "Strongbow," being a proper noun and signifying as one can get.  a minor character  " A new-tuned  in the story, is about as specific  harpsichord" signifies not quite any harpsichord,  thanks to the modifier, but it signifies any new-tuned one. "The indefinite article, being singular," writes Hamilton, announces  an  individual  image  (which  is  so  far  particular),  but  S I M I L E / 99 otherwise allows it to is to the imagination colour. You can make horse that answers to  retain whatever generality it possesses. A horse any single horse, a roan is any horse of such it more and more particular, but it is still any the description. 19  Byron's  harpsichord  is  concepts  and objects  with which the reader, being a user of words  with  names,  Strongbow,  in  this  is  familiar,  but  on the  other  hand,  sense  which has  generic,  has  a  being  no  taken  context  specific fictional  or  from  a  story  existence  realm and  of  terms  is  asserted,  commonsense  does  not  give  overwhelming  objects  its  own.  within  world: that is, a highly developed context. Although similitude between assent  Juan's the  is being used  wittily  to illustrate  one  very  specific characteristic  man. Its wittiness is contingent on incongruency, surprise tenor  and vehicle belong to two quite different  nature of conceit,  a figure  more  it:  a  The  20  of  the  and the fact that the  semiotic categories.  common in Renaissance  two  to  harpsichord is not very "like" Strongbow or any other human being at a l l . simile  of  This is  and modern,  than  the in  Romantic poetry. According to Helen Gardner, A conceit is a comparison whose ingenuity is more striking than its justness, or, at least, is more immediately striking. A l l comparisons discover likeness in things unlike: a comparison becomes a conceit when we are made to concede likeness while being strongly conscious of unlikeness. 21  A conceit may take the linguistic form of either simile or metaphor, exists in that area of intersection where, one  may  new-tuned  be  converted  to  the  harpsichord" can be  harpsichord"  with  little  with minimal significant  other. A s Byron's "Strongbow shortened  alteration,  so  to  "Strongbow  Donne's  "I,  like  was an  was a  for it change, like  a  new-tuned  usurp't  town,  S I M I L E / 100 to'another  due, / Labour to'admit y o u " " can be curtailed to "I, an  town . . . ," with damage  done only to the metre. Similarly, Byron's "she  was a walking calculation" (I, 16) and Donne's "She'is all States, Princes, I , "  usurp't  and all  may be expanded from metaphor to simile.  23  Byron's  use  of the  conceit  is recognized by  Ridenour, who claims  that the  trope is self-reflexive because it is "bright, showy, self-consciously  clever."  The reader is mildly  24  exhibits as despots  startled  "Juan, like a true-born  ride  a  theology" (VIII,  Russian"  (XIII,  108); "Like  every time she comes across  Andalusian, / Could back  23);  "He  hewed  away,  a backgammon board the  such  a horse,  as  doctors  of  like  place was  dotted  /  With whites and blacks, in groups on show for sale" (V, 10). The surprise jolts her not only into a sense of the writer's cleverness, but also into a sense  of  harmony  contrariety, are  rare  a  or  knowledge achieved  incongruency is used  for both  long  blood  Spout  /  Of  of  only  universe  with  scathing  and  a  water,  in  difficulty.  satire  and  leaden  which  This  order  kind  of ironic  hilarious comedy: Castlereagh!"  (IX,  "Indigestion  . . . that inward fate / Which makes  all Styx through  small  flow"  is  liver  (IX,  15).  Occasionally, a  conceit  and  developed  "that 50); one  through  several lines, using both linguistic forms, metaphor and simile: Three hundred cannon threw up their emetic, And thirty thousand musquets flung their pills, Like hail, to make a bloody diuretic. Mortality! thou hast thy monthly bills: Thy Plagues, thy Famines, thy Physicians, yet tick Like the death-watch, within our ears the ills Past, present, and to come. (VIII, 12)  However, conceits are seldom developed to the point of irrelevancy and are  S I M I L E / 101 almost  always  short.  These jolting little tropes do not,  lead to digression. Gardner remarks points  of likeness upon us";  that in conceit "the  also that  unlike the  does not "allow and invite the mind to stray of resemblance."  therefore,  usually  poet forces  epic simile,  beyond the  . . .  the  conceit  immediate  point  The "violence," deplored by Samuel Johnson, with which  25  these "heterogeneous ideas  are  yoked . . . together,"  working of a conceit: concord is asserted  is essential to  26  against odds, appropriateness  the and  analogy declared in the teeth of convention's opposition. Donald Davidson claims:  The most obvious difference between simile and metaphor is that all similes are true and that most metaphors are false. The earth is like a floor, the Assyrian did come down like a wolf on the fold, because everything is like everything." 27  Obviously,  using  assigned "true,"  to  the  and  there  can  binary  simile  that  harpsichord" everything"  the  be  some  to  the  "false"  is accepted be  system  "Strongbow  assigned  must  value  as  a  debate).  28  was  of pure  like  metaphor (if  the  a  proposition  about  But,  noted,  the  new-tuned  "Strongbow  premise, as  logic,  which,  truth-value  harpsichord" is  was  a  new-tuned  "everything  is  like  according to Ricoeur,  little change  is effected  in  phenomenological terms by the removal of the comparative, and my reader has  a strong inclination to assign to the  the  truth-value  For  the  purposes  given.  of simile  metaphor,  "false" (and hence, like Ricoeur, to challenge the of a study  scale of "truth"—or, kind  simile, as well as the  perhaps,  exists,  When the  to  reader  of the  differences  "ease of assent"—is  which is told  logical that  between  similes, a sliding  required, because  assent can Juan  premise).  much  "shuddered,  as  more no  another  easily be doubt  the  S I M I L E / 102 bravest cowers / When he can't tell what 'tis that doth appal" ( X V I , 120), she has no reason to believe that Juan and "the bravest" are not one and the same; the trope is not a metaphor because its assertion of similitude is not  enough  of  a  category mistake," category  lie. If 29  mistake at  metaphor  is,  as  Ricoeur suggests,  a  then this simile is not a metaphor because it is not a all. Juan,  the  reader  knows, belongs to the  "the bravest," with whom he is compared, though of course the trivial  "planned  distinction drawn here allows a  category apparently  sly ironic twinkle to pass  between  the two terms. Similes of this kind but  they  are not common among the English Romantics,  do occur in epic, and  also in Chaucer, as  W . P. K e r  notes.  30  They are most frequent in Dante, for example: E come quei ch'adopera ed estima, che sempre par che 'nnanzi si proveggia, cosi, levando me su ver' la cima d'un ronchione, avvisava un'altra scheggia. And like one who works and reckons, always seeming to provide beforehand, so, while lifting me upward toward the top of one great rock, he was looking out another crag.  31  Dante's master, Virgil, is not merely "like one who works and reckons," he actualty claims,  is one of these.  The purpose  "[to take] one away from  attention  on  one  aspect  of this type  other  particularly  circumstances  desired  by  the  of simile is, as K e r and  [to  poet";  32  concentrate] but,  more  importantly, it serves, like many other types of simile, to give a sense of other  parallel worlds. In  Dante,  the  other  world  ordinary world of live men and women, against  evoked is typically  the  which his great vision is  S I M I L E / 103 constantly juxtaposed. In Milton, the similes often evoke the " E r r i n g " therefore  (and  33  fictional, literary) worlds of classical myth: Not that fair field Of Enna, where Proserpine, gathering flow'rs, Herself a fairer flow'r, by gloomy Dis Was gathered . . . . . . might with this Paradise Of Eden strive. 34  This is not merely a literary allusion. The epic simile elaborates and in a sense narrates the story of Proserpine and hence includes it in the dialogue, even pagan  and  though  therefore,  it is subordinated within  the  to the  Christian  main story  ethos  of  poem's  because it is  the  whole  "Erring." Byron often uses this kind of narrative simile in Don  poem,  Juan:  But sweeter far than this, than these, than all, Is first and passionate love—it stands alone, Like Adam's recollection of his fall; The tree of knowledge has been pluck'd—all's known— And life yields nothing further to recall Worthy of this ambrosial sin, so shown, No doubt in fable, as the unforgiven Fire which Prometheus filch'd for us from heaven. (I, 127) Despite the slight scepticism evident in the couplet, he is not finally being jocular  here,  machinery would  as  he  ("Patroclus,  slay  us"  (IV,  often  is  when  he  brings  in  conventional  classical  Ajax or Protesilaus; / A l l heroes who if living still 76)).  In  fact,  Byron's  Fall  myth—his  vehicle—is  perhaps more wholly "there" for him than Milton's pagan vehicles, to which Milton could not grant full ideological assent. The epic similes of Paradise myths  and  biblical  histories;  Lost use  they  refer  as vehicles not only classical also  to  the  known  world  S I M I L E / 104 ("Vallombrosa")  and to an altogether modern science:  35  a spot like which perhaps Astronomer in the sun's lucent orb Through his glazed optic tube yet never saw.  36  Byron is very given to this kind of scientific allusion: And though so much inferior, as I know, To those who, by the dint of glass and vapour, Discover stars, and sail in the wind's eye, I wish to do as much by Poesy. (X, 3)  The reader  does note in passing, however, a fact which highlights one of  Byron's characteristic differences neat  little  four-line  parallel  from an epic poet. She observes that this  with  Newton which do not appear  Milton  follows  two  whole  to have any relevance to the  stanzas  on  composition of  poetry at all, until the narrator suddenly asks himself: "And wherefore this exordium?" The answer  to the  question is, of course, that "In taking up  this paltry sheet of paper," he experienced an exuberance which made him feel kinship with  such as  Newton; and thus he contrives to tie up  what  preceded into an epic simile as above. However, no comparative term nor any sense of trope is evident in the earlier stanzas. improvise,  and  thus  he  expects  digressiveness and his (apparent) hasty  an  indulgent reader  He is pretending to who will  forgive his  tacking it all together under her eye. This  bricolage is the opposite of the immovable architectural construction of  the epics of Milton, Dante and the ancients. Nevertheless, Byron  learned from  them a technique  which could be  put to more subversive uses. The epic simile is, if not essentially, at least potentially, digressive in nature.  37  Of the epic poets mentioned above, Milton  S I M I L E / 105 has  come under  most  critical  attack  for  wandering,  because  38  are, as Johnson noted, "more various [ ] than those of his and  because  comparison,"  "he but  does  not  "expands  confine the  which the occasion required." poets  in both time and  anxiety many  of his  a  within  the  adventitious  image  beyond  has  inevitable  that  digressive  devices of his  digressive  insouciance.  upon  Byron  become  a  strong  Anne  limits  of rigorous  the  and his educated  as  upon  critical  deliberately digressive  41  predecessors"  dimensions  Of course, Milton is the closest of the epic  39  culture to Byron  influence  other—poets  himself  his similes  Oedipal  Davidson  the  all English Romantic—and  commonplace.  poet  audience;  should  father  as  Ferry's  40  take  the  Perhaps the  seed  illuminating  it  is  potentially of his own  comments  on  Milton's similes tend to support this view. Analysing Milton's epic in terms of who is narrating at different times and how the style changes with the change of narrator, she remarks:  The similes which we remember from Paradise Lost, those which seem to give the poetry its special texture, are all spoken by the narrative voice. They are a distinctive mark of his manner of speaking and of the ways in which his style expresses a vision different from that of his characters. This careful use of similes to distinguish the narrator's style from the speeches of the characters is one of Milton's most elaborate means of transforming the drama of Adam's Fall into a narrative poem whose meaning is expressed in the tone of the speaker. 42  If  simile  has  been  used  even  by  Milton  to  remind  the  reader  of  the  presence of the epic speaker, it is no wonder that it is so often used by Byron's narrator as an excuse to move from his story into his own world. Thus, Don Juan's middle  of a  long  speaker will interrupt himself with a simile in the  passage  of ordinary narrative  and  thereby  change  his  S I M I L E / 106 mode of discourse altogether. The following stanza is one among several in which the narrator  is scarcely visible while the scene is being set for the  most romantic passage in the poem: It was a wild and breaker-beaten coast, With cliffs above, and a broad sandy shore, Guarded by shoals and rocks as by an host, With here and there a creek, whose aspect wore A better welcome to the tempest-tost; And rarely ceased the haughty billow's roar, Save on the dead long summer days, which make The outstretch'd ocean glitter like a lake. (II, 17 7)  43  The  next  stanza,  however, launches the  reader  suddenly and precipitously  into the mind and world of the narrator by the detonation of what  seems  a perfectly harmless comparison: And the small ripple spilt upon' the beach Scarcely o'erpass'd the cream of your champagne, When o'er the brim the sparkling bumpers reach, That spring-dew of the spirit! the heart's rain! Few things surpass old wine; and they may preach Who please,—the more so because they preach in vain,— Let us have wine and woman, mirth and laughter, Sermons and soda-water the day after. Man, being reasonable, must get drunk; The best of life is but intoxication: Glory, the grape, love, gold, in these are sunk The hopes of all men, and of every nation; Without their sap, how branchless were the trunk Of life's strange tree, so fruitful on occasion: But to return,—Get very drunk; and when You wake with head-ache, you shall see what then.  S I M I L E / 107 Ring for your valet—bid him quickly bring Some hock and soda-water, then you'll know A pleasure worthy Xerxes the great king; For not the blest sherbert, sublimed with snow, Nor the first sparkle of the desert-spring, Nor Burgundy in all its sunset glow, After long travel, ennui, love or slaughter, Vie with that draught of hock and soda-water. (II, 178-80)  It is far, type  far too late  nonchalant  of drawstring used by Milton  away. This too  for the  narrator  obviously  relevant"  when  "Thus they he  has  let  is much more self-indulgent than  enjoying  himself  to  be  plausible  champagne"),  he  joyfully  for  here.  any  kind  Starting  deteriorates  of  with  into  relate,  /  himself  be carried  free  44  Milton's; he is far  belated a  Erring"  "making it all  simile  ("ripple  association,  .  no  .  .  longer  bothering himself with the syntactic copulae of comparatives. The game he is playing in this relaxed, talkative tone, which toys with form as well as thematic associations, becomes unsurprised  finally  so absorbing that the reader is almost  when he deals his boldest stroke: "The coast—I think it was  the coast that I / Was just describing—Yes, it was the coast—  / L a y at  this period quiet as the sky" (II, 181). Typically, the return to the  story  is what is jarring here, because the narrator (and perhaps the reader, too) has  forgotten  Starting  with  where a  he  simile,  left  off narrating—or,  which,  like  Milton,  he  at  least,  so  elaborates,  he  pretends.  Byron,  unlike  Milton, allows himself to get lost in one of his other worlds, and the way back is out of the labyrinth. The "ripple . . . champagne" simile that forms the jumping-off point for this excursion is not as far removed from metaphor or conceit as some in Don Juan,  although the development of the image of "your champagne"  S I M I L E / 108 as the basis for a familiar sparkling bumpers of Byron's rather  reach")  scenario or context ("When o'er the brim  the  draws it into the domain of pure simile. Many out later  to be  different. When Juan discovers little Leila in Canto VIII, the  reader  is told  similes look like metaphors  that "she  was chill  as  they"  initially, but  turn  (95), "they" being corpses.  Now if  these corpses were pointed to with an indefinite, or no, article—if in fact they  were  any  dead  bodies—the  simile  would  be  a  metaphor.  As  it  happens, they are very specific bodies, those of her relatives and protectors, newly  killed,  and  the  simile  cannot  by  any  means  be  classed  as  a  metaphor. In fact, so "true" is the comparison that the reader is not sure whether  it  is  a  things—which  trope  at  exist in the  all. It same  compares  world,  with  two  things—or  equal degrees  qualities of of  specificity.  This is the ground state of simile, unremarkable in itself, but illustrative of the  fact  that  the  figure  will,  more  in  the  way  of metonymy  than of  metaphor, allow both terms an equal existence, without having to draw the vehicle from a realm of abstract generality. Ironic tricks may be played with simile as a result of the facility of the comparative term for changing from "like" to "appearing like" or from "as" to "as  i f ; and also as  vehicle here  than  the  points  narrator  a result of the  in metaphor,  of coincidence with  declares that "Julia  greater  allowing a more the  tenor.  mistress,  Thus,  particularity of the  searching examination of in  Canto  I,  when  the  and Antonia maid, / Appear'd like  two poor harmless women" (I, 141), the figure seems to be a simile of the category-species certainly the  variety,  whose  truth-value  is  of indisputable assent. And  women's appearance is of innocence; they are  acting a  part  S I M I L E / 109 for the benefit of the searchers of the bed-chamber. simile it be) is elaborated,  But as the  the impression grows that they are  simile (if over-acting  and that the difference between appearance and reality should be becoming evident not only to us (the narrator of Julia's infidelity), but observing the  and reader, who are in on the secret  also to the  women. Appearance  deluded  and  the  men in the  story  simile's truth-value  who  are  not  are so  simple after all: But Julia mistress, and Antonia maid, Appear'd like two poor harmless women, who Of goblins, but still more of men afraid, Had thought one man might be deterr'd by two, And therefore side by side were gently laid. (I, 141)  This device is used to more tragically ironic effect in Canto II when Juan and  Haidee,  embracing  in the  "deep  twilight's purple  alone, "As if there were no life beneath  the  charm"  (184),  sky / Save theirs,  are  and that  their life could never die" (188). Whether they counterpoint appearances and realities, (after  or  appearances  and  appearances,  or  even  realities  and  realities  all, the illusion is at this moment "real" to the lovers), these devices  awake in the reader the sense of a hiatus between worlds that returns her always to the enigma of fiction itself. Appearance-reality similes are the narrator  more  complex than  this. When  claims, "I rattle on exactly as I'd talk / With anybody in a  ride or walk" ( X V , 19), the trope.  often  Byron's  narrator  has  reader is inclined to give full a  specific  existence  within  assent to the  poem;  the his  habitual activities include riding ("I canter by the spot each afternoon" (IV, 103)), and certainly the frequently  chatty  style gives as perfect  an illusion  S I M I L E / 110 of a witty man's (Byron's) conversation as its formal rigours will allow. To assign easy.  to the  simile the  value  "true"  and  ignore  it as  trivial  would be  The man chats on foot and on horseback, just as he is rattling on  to his reader now. But on closer scrutiny the reader finds that the simile is  not  as  receiver  true  is a  metaphor  as  all that.  reader,  not  The  poet  a listener.  is  In  not  one  actually  talking  sense then,  the  and  trope  his is  a  in which the oral situation is the vehicle for the written, and the  simile operates as a strategy for creating various levels of diegetic worlds. One of these is a mentions the  wholly fictional  a few lines further  reader,  in  the  one  on, an  fictional  garb  in which the  narrator  "Improvvisatore"  of  a  live  fictional world exists as an ironic counterpart  is, as  ( X V , 20)  audience,  is  he  to whom  listening. This  to the "real" one:  a printed  text from which the poet is absent, with probably a single, silent reader. The reader  is made conscious  simile the narrator  of this  "real" world  precisely because  uses is so apposite; she is three-quarters of the way to  full assent to it when she notices, together with the surprise the deconstruction  of worlds, that it is not true at  she feels  whose tenor is an oral  metaphor  performance....  At  times,  simile  can  narrator's  world  which  would  be  a  kind  otherwise  disquisition on Lady Adeline's perfect insinuated  at  all. Unless, of course,  her solitary reading of a book of print is merely the vehicle of a  himself  the  a motive  cover  seem  for  a  step  over-gratuitous.  chastity, for which the  ("Perhaps she  (XIV, 57)), the following stanza occurs:  of  wish'd an  aspirant  into After  narrator  the a has  profounder"  S I M I L E / 111 I hate a motive like a lingering bottle With which the landlord makes too long a stand, Leaving all claretless the unmoistened throttle, Especially with politics on hand; I hate it, as I hate a drove of cattle, Who whirl the dust as Simooms whirl the sand; I hate it, as I hate an argument, A Laureate's ode, or servile Peer's "Content." (XIV, 58)  Although  the  slightly  faulty  grammar  of the  first  line  makes  the  figure  look like a simile-conceit, actually not "motive" and "bottle," but two of the narrator's  pet  hatreds are  syntactic pattern  of the  being compared.  other  The line  ought  to  follow  comparisons: "I hate a motive as I hate a  lingering bottle"; yet the construction as it stands gives a greater relevancy to the  the  sense of  story. Adeline's hypothetical motive only seems to be  the  tenor, for in fact the narrator has leapt out of his story and into his own world.  The  elaboration  which  could  of the  first  plausibly coexist  life—the  ambiance  already.  This  is  of also  which true  simile  with has  of  Adeline been  develops and  developed  "argument,"  "ode,"  a  her  masculine  scenario  aristocratic  London  through and  several  "Content"  cantos in  the  couplet; they could all form part of the experience of a London Dandy with an extensive acquaintance. But—and this is typical of the catalogues in Don Juan—the  "cattle" are  whirl  dust  the  as  slightly incongruous and the  Simooms whirl  the  sand,"  secondary simile, "who  belongs,  if not  to  another  world, at least to a part of this one so distant and exotic as to  threaten  a breach in its retaining wall. The reader is not allowed to forget for long that the universe is vast and various. The  narrator often calls attention to his similes in asides: "(This old  song and new simile holds good)" (Ded., 2); "(But this last simile is trite  S I M I L E / 112 and  stupid)" (I, 55); "That's an appropriate  "(Start not, kind for  Ajax  reader,  . . . )"  examples  of  (VIII,  29); and  (IX, 27);  Homer thought / This simile enough these  are  perhaps  self-reflexiveness, particularly when  trouble finding the New  since great  simile, that Jackall"  right one: " A n Arab  horse,  he  the  most obvious  claims to  a stately  be  stag,  having  a barb  /  broke, a camelopard, a gazelle, / No—none of these will do" (II, 6).  These devices call attention not only to the diegetic world of the but  to  other  worlds outside  and  beyond  this,  the  writer  with  speaker, his  pen,  generating the fictional speaker, choosing words, and the reader herself, who is  exhorted not to "start." Two longer examples invoke the  reader  in a  more active way. The  first of these occurs towards the end of a catalogue of beauties  asleep in the harem in which Juan is bedded in female disguise: A fourth as marble, statue-like and still, Lay in a breathless, hushed and stony sleep; White, cold, and pure, as looks a frozen rill, Or the snow minaret on an Alpine steep, Or Lot's wife done in salt,—or what you will;— M y similes are gather'd in a heap, So pick and choose—perhaps you'll be content With a carved lady on a monument. (VI, 68) This  stanza  heralds  a  transition from  a  serious,  "Romantic" mood to  more ironic tone, a transition implemented partly because the narrator  a  feels  the need here as elsewhere to change a theme which grows too sad. But here,  even before  the  direct  address  to  the  reader  which  comprises  the  jump into an extradiegetic world, alienation from the subject is taking place by  means  of images.  The  whole suite  of stanzas,  including the first part of this one, has presented  from  64  to  67  and  the women in terms of  S I M I L E / 113 a rather artificial but Edenic garden: Many and beautiful lay those around, Like flowers of different hue and clime and root, In some exotic garden sometimes found, With cost and care and warmth induced to shoot. (65)  This  imagery  is  strategically  relevant  to  the  story  because,  in  Dudu's  "dream," her sexual encounter with Juan takes the form of the eating of a fatal  fruit—the  sexual knowledge and  freedom  lacking  in the  harem.  But  the consistently and carefully developed conventional similes carry the poem into an elegiac mood which must not be sustained if it is shortly to move back  into the  odalisque  gleeful prurience  "betrayed  of a  / Through the  travelling-salesman joke. The  heaved  breast  the  dream  shore," and the simile with which her tears are rendered loveliness:  "(As Night Dew on  a  Cypress  "third"  of some  far  has a graveyard  glittering, tinges  /  The  black  bough)" (67). With the cypress  is more  compared. more  "fourth," the graveyard imagery reaches its nadir. Even a alive than  But the  similes  narrator  ("frozen  rill,"  the  marble  is not "snow  statue with  content  to  stop  minaret,"  and  which  this woman is  here;  he  "Lot's  offers wife")  three before  returning, rather more tentatively, to a variant on his first: "a carved lady on  a  monument."  Interestingly  enough,  the  three  middle  similes,  though  inconsistent with the garden theme, are not wholly irrelevant. The second is a little redundant,  as the first has already suggested coldness and isolation,  but,  hand,  on the  other  "Lot's wife done in salt" is surprisingly apposite,  considering that the woman is spiritually dead because her mind has  turned  back to her home. However, surprise is itself out of place here; the simile  S I M I L E / 114 is a conceit placed among quiet conventional images. Also, the word "done," even though it links this simile with the statue simile, is comic because it is too colloquial for the context and because everyone knows that Lot's wife was not sculpted in salt but transformed by God. The  progress  of  the  inconsistency and redundancy and humour, charts apparent  reader's  experience,  through  a  a growing awareness  the  reading process  marks  a  the  subject  story.  Thus,  the  of  (which is potentially self-mocking) to surprise of the text caused by the  shortcomings. Also, as a necessary complement to this  of  sense  diminishing involvement and when  she  is  finally  text's  awareness,  sympathy co-opted  by  with the  narrator, the reader is already sufficiently conscious of the story's existence as an object to participate in its construction. A  tendency  exhibited here,  to elaborate  illustrative imagery to  the  point of irrelevancy, is much more evident in my second example. This is a suite of stanzas on the subject of Gulbeyaz's anger  at Juan's refusal to  make love to her on command (V, 130-33). The stanzas consist of a series of raids on several worlds in order to come up with an appropriate vehicle for a simile; the narrator's him  sense of the task's impossibility is what keeps  searching and generating new semiotic and diegetic worlds to search.  The first stanza is direct address, first to a plural group ("Ye!"), and then, by a subtle transition, to a singular member of this group, the  narratee  45  (I must make this distinction between the inscribed receiver and my reader here,  because  narrator):  this  narratee  is clearly  male,  and  a  contemporary  of the  S I M I L E / 115 Remember, or (if you cannot) imagine, Ye! who have kept your chastity when young, While some more desperate dowager has been waging Love with you, and been in the dog-days stung By your refusal, recollect her raging! Or recollect all that was said or sung On such a subject; then suppose the face Of a young downright beauty in this case. (V, 130)  This is not a metaphor,  and it is no ordinary simile either. But if simile  be seen as a comparison in which "this specific thing" is likened to "that specific  thing,"  specific  thing" out of his own experience, in order  Considering meaning reaches  the  a  have  the  "remember"  is  receiver's  work  upper  can  individual  substitute  narrator  that the  for  narrator  the  of  demanding  mind  is the  literature,  this  limit of specificity. the  clarity  narratee  or  to  the  narratee  find  arbiter  and is  those  of outline  course,  the  so  by  the  by  an  who  imagination being here who did not keep their  when young are considered incapable now of the mental fertility  cannot a  the face  poor  chastity  demanded.  Having acquired an image, the receiver's work does not end there; he to substitute  of  constructed,  possessed  receiver  simile.  assigner  No "real person" recreated  Of  "that  to complete the  vehicle, if it  "imagine"—the  for memory—and perhaps  final  singleness  remembers.  is exhorted  that  has  (only the face?) " O f a young downright beauty" for  his "desperate dowager"—a rather difficult task, considering the reasons why the  dowager  is desperate.  Realizing this difficulty,  this time into the realm of literature:  the narrator  rushes  on,  S I M I L E / 116 Suppose, but you already have supposed, The spouse of Potiphar, the Lady Booby, Phedra, and all which story has disclosed Of good examples; pity that so few by Poets and private tutors are exposed, To educate—ye youth of Europe—you by! But when you have supposed the few we know, You can't suppose Gulbeyaz' angry brow. (V, 131)  Although  the  three  Euripides  are  within  field  of their  whose  examples his  quoted  is  so  from  the  own literary experience,  discovery inside the  experience  here  like  receiver's  the  narrator's  Bible,  the  mental  Fielding  narrator  world.  (Byron's),  keeps  This  is  and the  narratee,  credited  with  anticipating the narrator's  requirements,  and "real" memories are  not very different psychologically—imagination and  memory being interrelated. "private  tutors"  to  Those  more  who have  numerous  undergoing strong passion will  which suggests that fictional worlds  more  been  literary  exposed  by  examples  of  easily understand—or  work of recreating—Byron's poem. But nevertheless, his  receiver's experience, even after  "Poets"  characters  do the  the narrator  or  reader's  feels that  scouring its fictional knowledge, will be  inadequate, and so he goes on:  A tigress robbed of young, a lioness, Or any interesting beast of prey, Are similes at hand for the distress Of ladies who cannot have their own way; But though my turn will not be served with less, These don't express one half what I should say: For what is stealing young ones, few or many, To cutting off their hopes of having any? (V, 132)  He  has  moved into a  different  world  here,  not  into the  world of  natural law, as the first line would suggest, but into the writer's world of literary convention. The "tigress" and the "lioness" are "similes,"  like other  S I M I L E / 117 "beasts of prey" However,  he  appropriate  established  rejects  the  as  "interesting"  conventional  within  the  comparisons  as  literary tradition. being  not  quite  to the specific instance; Gulbeyaz's ferocity is not, as with the  conventional female feline, caused by the loss of "young ones," but by the "cutting short [her] hopes of having any." Among other things, this  stanza  contains an ironic joke at Byron's own expense. One of the most histrionic uses of the "lioness" occurs in his poem The Giaour: Go, when the hunter's hand hath wrung From forest-cave her shrieking young, And calm the lonely lioness: But soothe not—mock not my distress! 46  (As a matter of fact, he probably has the tigress in mind here, for tigers, unlike lions, are solitaries and live in forests, alliteration.)  Anyway,  the Don Juan the  the  narrator  has  but he could not resist  moved away from  the  his receiver in  stanza. By now the poetry is imbued with a strong sense of  privacy of poetic composition, during which  no responsive  audience  is  present: "my turn will not be served"; "These don't express one half what I should say." In the next stanza he moves into a more pontificating mood; he is making incontrovertible statements ex cathedra, and only in the couplet does he acknowledge his audience once more:  S I M I L E / 118 The love of offspring's nature's general law, From tigresses and cubs to ducks and ducklings; There's nothing whets the beak or arms the claw, Like an invasion of their babes and sucklings; And all who have seen a human nursery, saw How mothers love their children's squalls and chucklings: And this extreme effect (to tire no longer Your patience) shows the cause must still be stronger. (V, 133) The first four lines are not very self-reflexive. These categorical statements really are induced by a natural world in which recurrent patterns, or "general law" can be perceived. They point to "tigresses," as  objects, not  as  part  course, representative  of a  grab-bag  a Logos,  "ducks," etc.,  of literary devices. These  are,  objects, their signifiers lacking articles. The last  of two  lines of the sestet introduce a slight change of tack; the special example of human "mothers" requires  perceivers  and "children" is placed in a context, a "nursery," ("all  who  have  seen")  for  its  establishment  in  category. However, the perceivers are not identified directly with the  and the  poem's  narratees, and their perception is set in the past as a finished activity, not as an active process. The effect is rather of  rhetoric  point  in which  more  reference  persuasively,  culminating  in the  but  interrupted  to is  a not  formal, part of a polished piece  common human a  sine  cause-and-effect  qua  scenario  non  of  makes  the  proposition of the  the  argument last  two  lines. This interruption, "(to tire no longer / Your patience)" is a sidelong glance  at  the  narratee,  who  analogy to do in the stanzas narratee has yet  it  also  been  has  the  given so  much  of the  preceding. It acknowledges the  left out of the  acknowledges  been  process  work of  fact that  of creating meaning here,  indispensability of  the  narratee—or,  the and  rather  more generally, of a reader. It gives ironic recognition to the fact that the  S I M I L E / 119 reader's impatience has gets too bored, she  the  will  power to destroy  simply  stop  the  whole structure;  if she  reading, or skip to something  more  interesting. What  happens  to  the  similes in  this  tour de force is  become conjoined first to one and then to another are  subjected  to  a  strenuous  argument  in  device, and  which  what  that  they  finally  they  represents  the  developed term of an epic simile is in fact the most important proposition of  a  rhetorical  causes  are  enthymeme.  greater  than  The  argument  effects,  proposes  in an  this  stanza  effect  assumes  of great  power,  concludes that the cause must be immense. The proposal of the and  strength  vehicle  of  females  of the  a  to  attachment  rather the  unusual  procreative  of females  simile, act.  and  generality  to their offspring is also  whose  But  that  tenor  the  is  simile  the  the  attachment  is' not  of  unclassifiably  heterodox; comparisons do not have to be comparisons of equality. Milton's similes  frequently  surpasses two  it. The  terms,  sexual  invoke a  Greek myth  existence  of a  passion  and  to  show  cause-and-effect maternal  how  the  biblical  truth  relationship between  passion,  does  not  the  prevent  a  comparison from being made between them; indeed, this is the basis of the argument. If these stanzas others  are,  in which  are the  digressive, they are poet  wanders  not so in the way many  off into  a  volley  of  accusations  against some contemporary such as Castlereagh, Wordsworth or Wellington; or narrates some everyday or special event in his private life for its own sake;  or debates questions  relating  them  directly  to  such the  as  religion,  story.  mortality or  Even  where  he  avarice, without becomes  most  S I M I L E / 120 metaphysical here ("The his  love of offspring's  eye on an event in the  must  be  accounted  digressive.  By  for.  mediating  nature's general law"), he  story which needs accurate  This too  suite  is  more  obsessively  the  representation  self-reflexive  reader's  the  transparency  of the  story  much emotional involvement with the  and  alienates  response,  characters.  the  reader  stanzas  incidentally,  before  developing  which is never  it  to  completed  the  truly  and  by  narrator from  too  He does not go "off the  point" so much as linger too long on it; he continues to ruminate more  and  than  discussing in too much detail the mechanics of this mediation, the vitiates  has  point  of  for five  action—an  ("Her first thought  was  action,  to cut off  Juan's head" (V, 139)), and hence remains in the realm of speculation. The effect is of "freezing" the action: the narrator's through stanza after  and reader's time flow on  stanza, while Juan's time stands still, at the point of  paroxysm. Nevertheless,  in  one  sense,  self-reflexiveness  is  a  kind  of  digressiveness, even when it occurs in miniature in some baroque rhyme or conceit, without any rhetorical marker to point to it. What the self-reflexive device does is to take the reader's attention off the story, however briefly, and lift it onto the the surface  of the text in an excursion that may not  be registered in the rhetoric, but which exists nevertheless  as a "digression"  from the reader's experience of the story. In the stanzas above, the reader and  the  image—a the  narrator  take  mental journey  story's  progressive  a  trip which,  through for  time-sequence  psychological detour, or digression.  various  the and  worlds  reader, breaks gives  her  the  in  pursuit  into her  of  an  sense of  experience  of  a  S I M I L E / 121 Simile is one of several devices in Don Juan on a small scale to control the  which are used both  local degree of transparency  and on a more developed scale, to allow the narrator from  one  Whether  form  of  discourse  only the larger  and whether  or  from  phenomena  there is any  one  of the  text,  an escape mechanism  diegetic  world  into  another.  can be classed as digressions or not,  point in talking about  digressions  at  all in so  digressive a work, will be considered in the following chapter.  NOTES TO C H A P T E R  III  \As has become common practice, I use I. A . Richards's nomenclature here for the two elements of a trope. Richards employs them in his analysis of metaphor only, but they are convenient for discussion of other figures of speech as well. The Philosophy of Rhetoric (London: Oxford U P , 1979) 96. See Alex Preminger, ed., Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (Princeton: Princeton U P , 1974) 767: "Not every simile is a metaphor, though some similes can be compressed or converted into metaphors." 2  See Paul Ricoeur, The Rule of Metaphor (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1977) 27, 197; Terence Hawkes, Metaphor (London: Methuen, 1972) 3, 71. 3  Winnifred 1962) 51. 4  5  Nowottny,  The  Language  Poets  Use  (London: Athlone,  Terence Hawkes, Metaphor (London: Methuen, 1972) 2-3.  'Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Poems (London: Everyman, 1973) 176. 'Distinguishing symbol from allegory in The Statesman's Manual, Coleridge writes: "On the other hand a symbol . . . is characterized by a translucence of the special in the individual, or of the general in the special, or of the universal in the general; above all by the translucence of the eternal through and in the temporal. It always partakes of the reality which it renders intelligible, and while it enunciates the whole, abides itself as a living part of the unity of which it is the representative." (347-48). See also chapter II, note 19.  S I M I L E / 122 "Coleridge, The Statesman's Manual, The Complete Taylor Coleridge I (New York: Harper, 1884) 462.  Works of Samuel  'Coleridge, The Statesman's Manual 465. Coleridge here relegates metaphor with allegory to the work of the fancy, a faculty which he considers decidedly inferior to the imagination, which is the domain of symbol. De Man's essay on "Allegory and Symbol," in Blindness and Insight (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1983) 187-208, is a sustained critique of the bad faith or "tenacious self-mystification" (208) of Romantic theory from Coleridge to M . H . Abrams. Claiming that Coleridge's definition of symbol (see note 7 above) subsumes a monistic epistemological idealism (191), de M a n points out that this idealism is not consistent with the "priority of object over subject that is implicit in an organic conception of language" (197), a conception for which Coleridge is largely responsible. 10  "Poems such as " A h ! Sun-Flower," "The Tyger" and "The Sick Rose," each of which focuses on a single object and meditates in an exclamatory style on its ontological strangeness, are particularly good examples of the symbolic mode. William Blake, Complete Writings (London: Oxford U P , 1974) 215, 214, 213. "Although the French Symbolistes did use symbols—for example, the swan that occurs in short poems by both Baudelaire and Mallarme—they were more interested in breaking rules of syntax, sense (synaesthesia), metre, etc., than in symbol per se. Charles Baudelaire Les fleurs du mal (Paris: Librairie des bibliophiles, n.d.) 184-86; Stephan Mallarme, Oevres completes (Paris: Librairie Gallimard, 1945) 67-68. The Imagist movement, on the other hand, even though it tried to suppress the symbolic translucence of the object, drew many English-language poets into that concentrated contemplation of the individual object which leads to symbolic valorization. Hence, W. B . Yeats, D . H . Lawrence, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens and Hart Crane—all of whom were influenced by Imagism—produced such poems as "The Wild Swans at Coole," "Bavarian Gentians," "The Hollow Men," "Anecdote of the Jar" and "The Broken Tower," all of which generate an aura of mysterious and synecdochic significance about a perceived object and which are, in consequence, symbolic. The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (London: MacMillan, 1952) 147-48; D . H . Lawrence, Selected Poems (New York: Viking, 1973) 136-37; T. S. Eliot, The Complete Poems and Plays: 1909-1950 (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1952) 56-59; The Collected Poems of Hart Crane (New York: Liveright, 1933) 135-36; The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (New York: Knopf, 1961) 76. Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ode to the West Wind," Poetical Works (London: Oxford U P , 1968) 579. William Wordsworth, "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September, 1808," Poetical Works (London: Oxford U P , 1971) 214. Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," Poems 176. 13  S I M I L E / 123 "Even at his most Wordsworthian moments, Byron is more self-consciously explanatory than Wordsworth. Although he is, in the following passage, asserting an organic interpenetration of nature and his soul, he does not recreate this interrelatedness by the use of organic metaphor:  I live not in myself but I become Portion of that around me; and to me High mountains are a feeling, but the hum Of human cities torture: I can see Nothing to loathe in nature, save to be A link reluctant in a fleshly chain, Class'd among creatures, when the soul can flee, And with the sky, the peak, the heaving plain Of ocean, or the stars, mingle, and not in vain.  Childe Harold's 1926) 213.  Pilgrimage  III, lxxxii,  Poetical Works (London: Oxford U P ,  W . K . Wimsatt, in an essay entitled "The Structure of Romantic Nature Imagery," compares a sonnet by William Lisle Bowles ("To the River Itchin") with one by Coleridge ("To the River Otter"), "written in confessed imitation of Bowles" (105-10). The success of Coleridge's poem in comparison with Bowles's is due, according to Wimsatt, to a greater vividness in the realization of the river image and a more subtle, organic creation of trope. Wimsatt comments: "The metaphor in fact is scarcely noticed by the main statement of the poem. Both tenor and vehicle, furthermore, are wrought in a parallel process out of the same material. The river landscape is both the occasion of reminiscence and the source of the metaphors by which reminiscence is described" (109). Although Wimsatt includes Byron among the Romantic poets who use this type of imagery, he does not examine his Byronic example (an extract from the Childe Harold stanza quoted in the previous note) in enough detail to observe that in fact its working is in some ways more like Bowles than Coleridge: it contains "asserted connection" (107) rather than a "design which is latent in the multiform sensuous picture" (110). W. K . Wimsatt, J r . and Monroe C. Beardsley, The Verbal Icon (Kentucky: U of Kentucky P, 1954). 15  "Wordsworth, The Prelude I, 11.166-69, 497. ^Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics 767. G . Rostrevor Hamilton, The Tell-Tale Article (New York: Oxford U P , 1950) 14. 1 !  "Hamilton 12.  S I M I L E / 124 Commonsense has a habit of sticking to a very materialistic world-view which is seriously limited by habitual semiotic categories. When Helen Gardner, in her introduction to the poetic anthology, The Metaphysical Poets (Great Britain: Oxford U P , 1967), talks of "likeness" and "unlikeness" as if these were self-evident categories, she is guilty of using unexamined commonsense (xxii). Paul Ricoeur, in his account of "resemblance," vigorously defends the commonsense assumption against heavy odds (196-97). See note 28 below. 20  "Gardner xxiii. "Holy Sonnet," The New York U P , 1968) 344. 22  Complete  Poetry of John  Donne  (New  York:  "Donne, "The Sunne Rising" 94. "George M . Ridenour, The Style of Don Juan  (USA: Yale U P , 1969)  138. "Gardner xxiv. "Samuel Johnson, "Cowley," The Lives of the English Poets, Works of Samuel Johnson VII (Oxford: Talboys and Wheeler, 1825) 16. "Donald (1978): 41.  Davidson,  "What  Metaphors  Mean," Critical  Inquiry  The 5,  1  "See the section of Ricoeur's The Rule of Metaphor entitled "In Defence of Resemblance" (193-200). He defends the logically weak proposition, "everything resembles everything else...except for a certain difference!" in terms of the necessity, with metaphor, of seeing similarity "despite difference, in spite of contradiction." To Ricoeur, "resemblance can be construed as the site of the clash between sameness and difference," and the realm of resemblance is where the dynamics of metaphor operate (196-97). The Davidson-Ricoeur duality is perhaps clarified by J . Hillis Miller in Fiction and Repetition (Cambridge: Harvard U P , 1982). Miller quotes a passage from Gilles Deleuze's Logique du sens which opposes to each other the two formulations: "only that which resembles itself differs" and "only differences resemble one another" (5). The first of these, Miller calls the basis of a "Platonic" theory of repetitions, one which "is grounded in a solid architectural model which is untouched by the effects of repetition" (6). Of course, the archetype does not have to be Plato's realm of ideas: it can persist in a vigorous materialistic belief in an objective world. The latter belief may underpin Davidson's optimistic assertion of universal similitude. The second formulation subtends what Miller calls a "Nietzschean" theory of repetition, which "posits a world based on difference" (6). (Perhaps the primary representative of this theory in the contemporary world is Jacques Derrida.) Ricoeur clearly attempts a kind of workable synthesis between the two theories, assuming the simultaneous possibility of both similarity and 2  S I M I L E / 125 difference. This dangerous middle ground I too have tried to tread and to chart, asserting that at least for the purposes of this dissertation, similarity must be measured on a calibrated yardstick of truth or "ease of assent." (Interestingly, Tzvetan Todorov, in "Narrative Transformations," The Poetics of Prose (Ithaca: Cornell U P , 1977), claims that narrative is also "constituted in the tension of two formal categories, difference and resemblance" (233).) 29  Ricoeur 197.  30  W.  P. Ker, Form  and  Style in Poetry (London: MacMillan,  1928)  252. Dante Alighieri, Inferno X X I V , 11.25-28, The Divine Comedy: Italian Text and Translation I, trans. Charles S. Singleton (Princeton U P , 1970) 248, 249. 31  32  K e r 252.  John Milton, Paradise U P , 1966) 230. 33  Lost I, 1.747, Poetical Works (London: Oxford  "Paradise  Lost IV, 11.268-75, 281.  "Paradise  Lost I, 11.301, 219.  Paradise  Lost III, 11.588-90, 271.  i6  See C. M . Bowra, Tradition and Design in the Iliad (Oxford: Clarendon, 1930) 126. Dicussing Homer's similes, Bowra claims: "Their aim was not to provide a series of points in which one thing can be compared with another, but to stress a common characteristic. This done, the poet follows his fancy and develops the picture without much care for his reason for using it." The whimsical, gratuitous quality is what is of interest here. 37  'See Christopher Ricks, 1963) 118-50, for a summary relevance of Milton's similes. 3  3  Milton's Grand Style (Oxford: Clarendon, of the debate about the digressiveness or  'Johnson, "Milton," Lives of the English  Poets 132  See Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence (New York: Oxford U P , 1973): "Milton is the central problem of poetic influence in English" (33). Also, M . H . Abrams, in "English Romanticism: The Spirit of the Age," perceiving Milton as the exemplary visionary poet, details his influence on various Romantic writers. Romanticism and Consciousness, ed. Harold Bloom (New York: Norton, 1970) 102-07. Jerome McGann, in an article entitled "Milton and Byron" {The Keats-Shelley Memorial Association Bulletin X X V (1974)), claims that Byron, not Wordsworth nor any other self-styled Miltonist, was Milton's true heir in the Romantic age. "Wordsworth and 40  S I M I L E / 126 Southey may affect the Miltonic style, may wear the trappings Muse, but it is Byron in whom Milton's spirit survives" (24).  of  the  'Bloom sees poetic strength as the ability in later poets "to wrestle with their strong precursors, even to the death" (The Anxiety of Influence 5). He envisages this in terms of an Oedipal struggle rather than a Promethean one. "Oedipus, blind, was on the path to oracular godhood, and the strong poets have followed him by transforming their blindness towards their precursors into the revolutionary insights of their own work" (10). 4  Anne Davidson Ferry, Milton's Epic Voice (Cambridge: Harvard U P , 1963) 69. 42  The two similes in this stanza, in keeping with the conventionality (in the best sense) of the romance which is unfolding between Juan and Haidee, are too conventional to catalyse any jolt into self-reflexiveness. 43  "Paradise  Lost I, 11. 756-57, 230.  "According to Seymour Chatman, in Story and Discourse (Ithaca: Cornell U P , 1978) 150, this term was first coined by Gerald Prince in "Notes Toward a Categorization of Fictional 'Narratees,'" Genre 4 (1971): 100-105, and it signifies a fictional receiver whose "situation . . . is parallel to that of the narrator" (Chatman 151). In my discussion of the reader in chapter V I , I use the word "narratee" synonymously with "inscribed reader" and "inscribed receiver." In its singular form, the word is not especially useful to a discussion of Don Juan, since the poem has many inscribed readers, some of whom are clearly "mock readers" and others, real people, alive at the time of the poem's composition. None of these has sufficient consistency or continuity to deserve the singular designation; only the "implied reader" (Chatman, 149) warrants attention as a particular identity throughout a reading of the text. The term "narratee" is useful for the moment here, because this inscribed receiver, a mock reader only to a certain extent, is masculine and a contemporary of Byron's. The Giaour, Poetical Works 256. The "cubless tigress in the jungle raging" occurs seriously in Don Juan, too, as an image for Lambro (III, 58). Byron has a habit in this poem of mocking the characteristic imagery of his earlier poetry, even though he also employs it here non-ironically when he needs to. Being on the point of comparing Adeline with a volcano, he rejects the image for that of a frozen bottle of champagne, justifying himself thus: A6  S I M I L E / 127 No I hate to hunt down a tired metaphor, So let the often-used volcano go. Poor thing! How frequently, by me and others, It hath been stirr'd up till its smoke quite smothers! (XIII, 36)  Of all the English Romantic poets, Byron probably uses the volcano most characteristically. He even employs it as a metaphor for poetry per se, which he calls "the lava of the imagination whose eruption prevents an earth-quake" {Byron's Letters and Journals, I (Cambridge: Harvard U P , 1974) 179). The Giaour sneers at "cold" courtly love, claiming that his blood "was like the lava-flood / That boils in .Etna's breast of flame" (Poetical Works, 255). In some of Don Juan's "Romantic" moments, the volcano appears unparodied, too. The name of Kosciuszko "Might scatter fire through ice, like Hecla's flame" (X, 59).  CHAPTER IV  DIGRESSION  Much has been written about Byron's digressions in Don Juan. seen  by most critics as  "interruptions of the  are "often quite disconnected from regard  these  digressions  as  action" or of the 1  [this story's] subject-matter";  the  "memorable  elements"  4  They are  "story"  2  which  and while many  3  of the  poem,  a  fairly  general consensus holds that Byron "does maintain a clear distinction between the narrative and the digressions." the Poet, makes  a further  Don  he  Juan,  because  but  he  opposes  does  M . K . Joseph, in an appendix to his book Byron  5  discrimination between not  both  fundamentally  these  errant  "digression" and "comment" in  challenge the  categories  to  usual  that  of  dualistic model  narrative.  Alvin  6  Kernan and Jerome McGann regard the poem's pulsation between narration and digression meaning. subverted  as  diagrammatic  Kernan sees and  replaced  the by  of its poem a  more as  "but  a  profound sort  then"  fluctuations  of dynamic serialism, each copula;  "upward to a pause, and then a sweep away."  7  the  repeated  of Don Juan  is based  dialectic without being synthetic."  8  upon the  and event  movement  is  McGann finds in the digressions  evidence of Byron's discarding of Coleridgean "total form," "structure  in structure  structure  and claims that  of human  the  talk, which is  This important insight is basic to both Anne  128  D I G R E S S I O N / 129 K.  Mellor's  work  and  Peter  L . Thorslev's readings  of Romantic irony, in which  mode.  9  Unfortunately,  the  of Don Juan  antithesis  without synthesis  significance of antithesis  only scrupulous analyst of Don Juan's  as  narrative  a  is the  seems to have  structure,  paradigmatic  William  essential  escaped  the  T. Ross. In  an unpublished dissertation he observes that: while it is fairly easy to identify certain digressive passages, it is not easy to to divide the poem into two neat categories, narration and digression. There is simply too much grey matter. 10  By  pointing out  that  small  parts  of  a  stanza  can  be  digressive,  11  and  by  demonstrating that many stanzas which most readers would take to be narrative are,  in fact,  "doing the  same  work  as  .  .  . digression,"  12  Ross successfully  undermines attempts like Joseph's to count and statistically compare digressive as against narrative stanzas.  13  But because  he concentrates  too much on the "grey"  areas which are his principal discovery, he loses sight of a crucial dialectic and concludes that "the digressions and the narrative have a commonality of purpose which mutes any distinction between Don Juan  them."  14  is an essentially dialogic poem, its dialectic evident in its more  microscopic as well as in its larger structures.  The fact that this consistency in  inconsistency imposes on it a kind of paradoxical unity of purpose ought not to blur  the  contrasts  reader's  eyes  into  seeing  its  chiaroscuro  between the various voices of the  as  "grey  matter."  If  poem be not all the time as  the stark  as black against white, then the conceit must be made more appropriate by the application  of  colours of the  a  prism. In  spectrum  this  "versified  strike each other  Aurora  Borealis"  in complement,  (VII, 2),  contrast,  all  the  discord and  relief. When blue lies for a moment beside indigo instead of orange, the effect is  D I G R E S S I O N / 130 not monochromatic except to an unfocused or colourblind eye; the  reader  cannot  assume a uniform grey for the whole just because she knows it would look that way  if it were rotated very fast or observed from another The  become such  study  of  narrative,  or  narratology,  has  very popular of late, though none of the  as  Roland  Barthes,  Seymour  Chatman,  planet.  taken  major  Gerard  great  theorists  Genette,  strides  and  in this  field,  Wayne  Booth or  Gerald Prince seems to have taken cognizance of Byron's poem. This neglect, no doubt accounted  for by the  fact that their major  prose story, is a pity, since Don Juan narrative"  15  and Jacques  Russian Juan  surprising than  le fataliste,  which  M . M . Bakhtin,  The narration of Byron's  that of novels such as  feature  Tristram  significantly in their canon. The  recognizing the  dialogic nature  of both  Don  and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, uses them as examples of the "novelization  of the most  theorist,  more  novel or  falls into that category of "self-conscious  in which they seem particularly interested.  poem is in many ways Shandy  preoccupation is the  epic poem." celebrated  Onegin,  11  Unfortunately, he reserves  16  example  of this  type  his detailed commentary for the  in his  own language,  which is a deliberately Byronic self-reflexive poem.  Pushkin's  Eugene  However, Bakhtin's  18  main focus is not on narrative per se so much as on the way language patterns reflect other language patterns and engage in dialogue with them. Byron's  digressions, calls  at  their  are  Discourse  narrative  convention occurring in the form of jumps  another,  without  being justified  metalepsis";  examples  Narrative  this  "narrative  extreme,  "by  the  precisely of introducing into one situation, the When, in Canto V (33-39) of Don Juan,  19  they  of what  are  Genette  in  "transgressions"  of  from one  narrating,  the  diegetic world act  knowledge of another  the narrator  that  to  consists  situation."  20  launches into the story of  D I G R E S S I O N / 131 an event that took place "on Friday last" in the street outside his own residence in  Ravenna,  narrator's  and  this  discourse  is  not  in terms  events or telling of Juan's  related  either  of time,  place,  by  diegetic  for  the  leap  world of the narrator's other his  instances  world  parallel  or  by  theme  to  the  or  story, which has been left off as the  haggled over in a Constantinople slave market, appropriate  self-evident  from  the  recent  of narrative  hero is being  the term "metalepsis" is clearly  diegetic world  of Juan  experience. The term will  to  the  extradiegetic  also perhaps  leap-frogging: for example, when the  apply to  narrator  tells  reader that he will "make Don Juan leave the ship soon" so that he (Juan)  does not get into a compromising situation with the nubile young singer to whom he  is  chained  (IV,  97).  The  reason  the  narrator  gives  for  manipulation of his story is that "several people," including the complained  that  consumption. exactly  In  "What  journalistic sentence  the  distancing  two  another Juan  witness he  first  cantos  digression, the  saw  and  himself  that  at  the  once  narrator  underwent,"  existing within  demands  of Don Juan  the  diegetic  reader  into  as  the  are  by  if he  "recollect  and  the  general to  narrator) then  work  extradiegetic  for  claiming  (the  sudden  publisher, have  too risque  begins  world,  this  world  is  in  were the  only  of  chart a  same fiction,"  manipulating  story-maker (XI, 88). However, not all digressions in Don Juan  can be classified  Many  structurally  to be  world,  whose  than  unnecessary  superfluity  by measurement  protagonists technique  elaborations  is more  against  difficult  are to  demonstrate  the  poem  by  within  metalepses. the  isolated  story's  quotation  accompanying passages which do propel plot and  forward in time. For these, Ross's  throughout  found  as  as  strategy  "digressive" is  a  of regarding  good one;  21  the  narrative adjectival  D I G R E S S I O N / 132 form, like Ross's thesis, suggests shortest and  a general style which, rather  path to a goal, is more involved in the present  is marked by elaborations, red herrings,  than taking the  time of the wayside,  self-indulgences, playfulness and a  willingness to be led astray by any interesting distraction which offers itself. Of course, this tendency is very fundamental to narrative literature and perhaps all art—and  even to the life of consciousness, according to Freud, who claims that  "the aim of all life is death," and that life with its erotic vitality diverging "ever complicated  more widely  detours before  from  its  reaching  original  its  aim  persists by  course" and making "ever of  death."  In  22  fiction,  more  Todorov's  maxim that "narrating equals living" is most clearly illustrated by his example of Scheherazade in the Arabian Nights, postpones Juan  due  According  her  execution—and finally,  to the to  death  Peter  of its  Brooks  in  for whom storytelling is a detour which  prevents  author  would  Reading  for  it.  Perhaps  23  the  provide another the  Plot,  ending of Don  kind of example.  this  theory  can  be  illuminatingly generalized and anatomized:  Deviance, detour, an intention that is irritation: these are characteristics of the narratable, of "life" as it is the material of narrative, of fabula become sjuzet. Plot is a kind of arabesque or squiggle toward the end. It is like that arabesque from Tristram Shandy, retraced by Balzac, that suggests the arbitrary, transgressive, gratuitous line of narrative, its deviance from the straight line, the shortest distance between beginning and end—which would be the collapse of one into the other, of life into immediate death. 24  However, Brooks's use of the word "transgressive" suggests this  account the  concerned foreign  only  metaleptic type  with  of digression, whereas  digressive movements  which  do not  that he includes in  I for the  moment  actually trespass  am into  territory, but describe a path, over permissable terrain, which is longer  and more looped than necessary.  D I G R E S S I O N / 133 Examples of this tendency the  luxuriating descriptions of the  Canto  XIII  (56-72),  ("Penshurst") depiction the  are scattered  and  (after  mechanics  appear  where  Pope  interior decoration of an  magnificent  ("Windsor  Newstead) and  a  throughout Cantos V and V I , in  set-piece  Forest")  in  expends  of Norman Abbey;  Oriental palace; in  the  manner  seventeen  raison d' Q tre of a siege in which the  for fifty-five  stanzas,  and  stanzas  in Cantos V I I and  25  whose causes  he  of Jonson on  VIII,  the  where  hero does not even  probably never  understands,  are developed in painstaking historical detail; in the last six cantos, in which the habits and follies of English society are pursued far outside the circle of Juan's acquaintance  and beyond his capacity for vision; and, perhaps most obviously, in  Canto III, during Juan's and Haidee's feast, where, apart from commentary, brief metalepsis, discussion of Lambro's history and feelings, and even portrayal of the Greek poet, who has pure  description  narratively  a certain relevance to several worlds, eighteen  can  in that the  be  counted  reader  (29-34,  acquires from  67-78). them  The  latter  garlanded  (75-76))  is  ram  shown  (32-33), at  prodigality of the feast  the  Haidee's point  of  native  beauty,  decadence,  are  justified  a sense—here without overt  authorial prompting—of a world in which Paradisal innocence (the the  stanzas of  its  unimprovable corruption  children with by  make-up  implicit  in  the  and the luxuriousness of the clothes and trappings. The  scene is envisaged—at least, at first—through Lambro's fallen and anguished eyes, thereby  utilizing Milton's brilliant dramatic device of portraying his Paradise  first through the eyes of its destroyer.  26  But even so—and the reader must read  through the whole canto to feel this—a wantonness  motivates all this description,  an imbalance in terms of classical decorum. The narrator "Muse,  the  butterfly"  (XIII,  at  89), letting her  is giving reign to his  alight wherever  whimsy or  words  D I G R E S S I O N / 134 take  her.  Haidee's  bracelet,  for  example,  "Lockless—so pliable  from  the  pure  gold / That the hand stretch'd and shut it without harm" (71), has a delight all of its own, a cameo part in the poem that seems different from relevance: it is put in, among many other things, more-or-less for its own sake. The subversively metre  tendency  inclusive—is  of Don Juan.  West calls the his chapters  to  catalogue  items—to  registered,  as  I  make  mention  Several critics have  lists  which  in chapter  II,  are even  often in  the  taken note of this accumulative habit.  poem "a rag-bag of interesting exhibits";" Steffan entitles one of  "Accretion" and charts in it a habit of "stuffing a matrix," which  he dates in Byron's work from as early as English Bards and Scotch Reviewers; ' 1  Kernan's wave  metaphor  plot convey the rather  than  appropriates serve  same  to  pare  and  his account of the  down  or  sketch.  and tweezers" housemaids'  like  accumulate  Leporello's  aria,  or irrelevant items, these  hero is only one object  adventures  the inclusive tendency  among many  are  merely digressions. Of  works in favour of realism—or, at  Juan's world contains such mundane items as "scissors, paint  (V, 80), passports  pails  catalogue,  of the  as a focus is only one among a myriad  stories in relation to which Juan's  30  A  of redundancies  to flesh out a world in which the  least, plausibility.  movement  2  by naming; if it is full  course, in one sense,  then"  sort of idea. ' The tendency is to collect and  and the story chosen by the narrator other  "but  (I,  24)  and  (XI, 41), bills (X, 69), street lamps (XI, 26), doctors'  human needs and impulses less extreme  prescriptions  (X, 41);  it  also  includes  than lust, heroism or starvation. When  Juan is trying to act out his role of grieving and banished lover, he is overcome by seasickness  (II, 20); he rides over hounds and gentlemen while hunting (XIV,  33); he almost fails to come up to scratch  as  the romantic stranger  when he  D I G R E S S I O N / 135 discovers  that  he  does  not  find  Englishwomen attractive  (XII, 68).  He  also  encounters people and scenes throughout his story that have no especial relevance to  him  or  company  his  adventures,  (IV, 81-96),  to  from  "the  Raucocanti  honourable  and  the  newly  M r s . Sleep, /  enslaved  opera  Who looked a  white  lamb, yet was a black sheep" (XIII, 79). But this tendency  is conducive to realism—or plausibility—only when it is  confined to a single world. The "frisking, narrative—named  by  Friedrich  Schlegel  knotted, virtuouso line" "arabesque" —can,  of Shandyist  31  according  32  to  Peter  Conrad, "lead inside, for the rhythm of consciousness is discontinuous, digressive, looping and meandering." insouciant  progress  A n d indeed, in Don Juan,  33  of the  discourse  "world too large in all directions,'"  35  through  all its  its "pattern  reader with a breathtaking frequency  as in Tristram Shandy, the "interesting  of shifting designs,"  to  an  inner  world  of  34  leads  36  its the  across the chasms that divide worlds. The  direction may be the way inward, as Conrad suggests, perceptions  exhibits,"  pulses  of  from  consciousness,  an outer world of of  forgetting  and  remembering (IX, 36), of sudden fits of exhilaration (X, 3) or nostalgia (V, 4); but it may just as easily be a way across from one "outside" world to  another,  most  of  typically  from  the  world  of  Juan's  perceptions  to  the  world  the  narrator's. Clearly,  we have  arrived at  some occasions than on others. the  digressions  sometimes, outgrows exhortation  as its  is  a  tenor,  which  is  One of the  meandering  described  in the  and at  metalepsis  outward  previous  sometimes first  directly  again, which  most frequent journey  chapter,  with  a  relevant  a  subtle on  patterns followed by  from  with  is more  the simile  story,  begun  whose vehicle  generalization,  exclamation  or  to  but  by  the  story,  which,  D I G R E S S I O N / 136 elaboration and accumulation, grows less and less relevant until the plot and its protagonists absorbed  are  by  left  well  another  when the narrator  behind  diegetic  and  world.  the  Only  reader's at  the  consciousness point  pulls himself up and demands:  is thoroughly  of return,  very  often,  "But I'm digressing; what on  earth has Nero / . . . / To do with the transactions  of my hero?" (Ill, 110),  does the reader feel any sense of transgression or hiatus. Thus, feature  metalepsis,  of the  blatant  or  subtle,  digressions in Don Juan.  is  frequently—but  not  always—a  However, the most startling  metalepses  in the poem are not digressions at all. Twice, the narrator in  the  guise  housemaid's  pail  of  a  peripheral  emptied house  witness-character,  over his head  by  the  the  "gets into" his story  first  time  young Juan  parents'  Juan's  time later, to sit next to the "very powerful parson, Peter  country  house  in England, attended  of the  candidate  an  also by Juan, who is staying at  the  (XVI, 81-82).  The  transgressiveness  divided  and  accentuated  by  "reality" their  of  the  rareness,  explains the narrator's  one  their  the  are  "fictionality"  gratuitousness,  the  of Seville,  on  of  these  deeply and logically  fact  of  the  that  other  no  intimate  terms  with  the  local  is  narration  presence in those places at those times, and by the  that they are mutually contradictory. In the first, the narrator resident  stairs of  Pith" at  and protagonist  the  a  second time, several years of  incidents in a story in which narrator by  have  the  Juan's  electioneering banquet  in Seville (I, 24) and the  on  to  fact  appears to be a  aristocracy,  and  in  the  second, he seems to be a British Dandy, an old friend from the "livelier London days" of a country parson. Even though the could  be  achieved, it  isn't,  at  least,  not  confusion,  which may  affect  an anxious reader  consistency of the  within  the  poem's  two  characters  dicourse.  Further  who would like to "fill  i n " the  D I G R E S S I O N / 137 narrator's  omissions, is caused by certain personal asides,  such as  the  absurd  assertion in Canto II: "Much English I cannot pretend to speak" (165). Although the  reader  narrator  is justified  to  some  in  extent,  assuming modelling  that  Byron  him from  changed  Canto  II  his  mind  onward  about  his  studiously on  himself and appearing to forget about the "Spanish Gentleman" he projected in a cancelled preface to the poem,  37  this assumption does not give her carte blanche  to disregard the first part of the poem, or to make consistent in her own mind what is clearly and deliberately inconsistent in the poem. If the narrator is the notorious poet, Lord Byron, living in exile in Italy (as by now the reader  has  been led to believe), how come he turns up in England so unnoticed, to eat his dinner  at  metalepsis  Norman remains  Abbey to  upsetting the reader's  the  and  disappear?  end  of the  The  poem  logically  one  insoluble  problem of  favourite  devices for  of its  complacency and sense of ontological security. A s Genette  puts it:  A l l these games, by the intensity of their effects, demonstrate the importance of the boundary they tax their ingenuity to overstep, in defiance of verisimiltude—a boundary that is precisely the narrating (or the performance) itself: a shifting but sacred frontier between two worlds, the world in which one tells, the world of which one tells . . . . The most troubling thing about metalepsis indeed lies in this unacceptable and insistent hypothesis, that the extradiegetic is perhaps always diegetic, and that the narrator and his narratees—you and I—perhaps belong to some fiction. 38  Clearly,  metalepsis  would  be  impossible  without  the  prior  establishment  of  boundaries between worlds, plausibility and solidity within worlds, and a hierarchy in  which  committed  the  fictional  under  these  is  secondary  conditions,  to  the  the  "real." When  reader's  sense  of  a  transgression  reality  and  is  solidity  crumble quite spectacularly into an instantaneous knowledge that all is fiction and  D I G R E S S I O N / 138 that all boundaries, worlds and hierarchies are  artificial.  Far from being a "grey," or spectral presence, is  invested  perceiving  with  the  unusual  triviality  verisimilitude  of  a  and  solidity.  distinction between  poem, asserts that he "is called ' B y r o n . ' "  the narrator  narrator  from his  fiction  among  and  fiction.  Juan others,  author  in  And yet his entry into the  39  world of his own creating suggests that he too is a not emerge  Mellor,  of Don  this  fictional  However, he does  more shadowy than before: he retains  his solidity.  No compromise or synthesis is offered by the poem; maugre Ross, "these games" are made possible only by an impasse, a "sacred frontier," which logically divides "reality" from  fiction,  or,  as  the  fictional worlds from one another.  more  accurate  formulation may  solving  according  it.  to  consequence  This  Mellor,  is  a  "sees  "deconstructs  different  They work on a principal of antithesis,  they do not transcend or unify, they merely "transgress," not  be,  deliberate  strategy  the  world  as  his  own  texts  of  the  fundamentally in  the  which  developing an enigma, Romantic  ironist,  chaotic,"  and  expectation  who,  who  that  such  deconstruction is a way of keeping in contact with a greater creative power." Neither Juan.  metalepsis  nor  important  digression  the  fundamental  but  neither  poem, which  are  multi-facetted  More fruitful  perhaps is a vaguer and broader terminology, such as that used by  and evident  and  dialectics and  in both  are  at  Don  foregrounded,  all the  overlap  in  are  defines  which  tendency  40  Both  term  structures,  is  in  contrasts  micro- and  times in  the  macrostructure.  Seymour Chatman in Story and Discourse. In his discussion of discourse (the long fourth  chapter  of the  "nonnarrated  story"  discourse  an  of  book), Chatman through  "overt"  varying  narrator.  41  creates  a  continuum  ranging  degrees  of  "covert"  narration  Byron  of  course  never  even  from  the  to  the  approaches  D I G R E S S I O N / 139 Chatman's "minimal case" of a nonnarrated  story consisting of a "copied text."  42  In fact, taken as a whole, Don Juan exhibits an extremely overt narrator and is unlikely to feature  in anyone's theory as an example of either a nonnarrated or  a covertly narrated story. But the point is that it fluctuates own "minimal case" can be found in stanzas  continually, and its  depicting action and dialogue like  the following:  Up Juan sprang to Haidee's bitter shriek, And caught her falling, and from off the wall Snatch'd down his sabre, in hot haste to wreak Vengeance on him who was the cause of all: Then Lambro, who till now forebore to speak, Smiled scornfully, and said, "Within my call, A thousand scimitars await the word; Put up, young man, put up your silly sword." (IV, 37)  This  is  by  no  means  the  "bare  Chatman, using Hemingway's The Killers (by convention, at least)  that form  description  of physical action"  which  as a paradigm, claims can approximate  of nonnarrated  action evident in a  drama.  43  The stanza contains too many interpretative modifiers, such as "bitter," "in hot haste," "scornfully"; motive is suggested action ("forebore sound  to speak"); furthermore,  "objective"  structure characters'  of  the  speech  transparency,  ("to wreak / Vengeance"); also unrealized  ("sprang," stanza,  "snatch'd," in  which  some of the verbs are etc.).  even  the  And, in  any  apparently  is in rhyming iambic pentamenter,  too extreme  case, direct  the  prosodic  quotation  militates strongly  to  of  against  or that style in which action is merely reported in as visual and  neutral a way as possible. Here, too clear a melody is playing for the words to be ignored or "seen straight through." However, all this is from has  a context,  and one which  the critic's point of view. In fact, alters  it considerably from  the  the  stanza  way it appears  D I G R E S S I O N / 140 indented and alone in the midst of this prose text. Put back where it belongs in the middle of Canto I V of a long ottava rima poem, and encountered during the course of an ordered hour or so of reading such stanzas,  its prosody will  be  almost unnoticeable to my reader, accustomed as she is to its tune, for metre is not  foregrounded  here  and  masculine. She will read the  all  the  rhymes  stanza very fast,  are  perfect,  unexceptional  and  for to some extent her reading  speed is monitored by the speed of the actions apparently taking place, and to a large extent it is modified by the relative excitement, drama and suspense of the story as it unfolds for her. The speed of her reading will take her attention off individual words and local effects. The trauma projected here will attach itself for her to the situation described rather for  than to the  way in which it is described,  she is used to a narrator who periodically comments and intrudes in a most  overt manner,  and here, relatively speaking, he stands back. Examination of a  stanza which occurs a few pages on in the same canto will perhaps offer a foil to this one and by contrast show up its transparency; but I must concede that the tactic is slightly rhetorical, for the two do not actually occur back to back:  But  let me change this theme, which grows too sad, And lay this sheet of sorrows on the shelf; I don't much like describing people mad, For fear of seeming rather touch'd myself— Besides I've no more on this head to add; And as my Muse is a capricious elf, We'll put about, and try another tack With Juan, left half-kill'd some stanzas back. (IV, 74) Now discourse"  this or  stanza  "'self-conscious'  extreme  of  story."  The narrator  44  comprises  "overtness"  on  what  narration," his  Chatman a  calls  category  continuum, even  "commentary  on  the  places  at  the  "commentary  on  the  which  beyond  he  is talking to his reader over the heads of his characters,  D I G R E S S I O N / 141 getting her  assent for his change  of "tack." The story itself is the  dicussion, and its possible effect on the narrator  subject of  ("seeming rather touch'd"); thus,  both story and narrator take clear shape within the poem's discourse. The reader too has a shadowy existence here, projected by the subjunctive "let me change," which  is  almost  a  plea—a  form  which  demands  a  respondent—and  by  the  first-person plural, "We." (Elsewhere, of course, the reader is much more clearly inscribed.) The narrator  is playing with literary conventions in ways which  not quite consistent with has  recently  come  to  one another.  an  end,  as  First,  a  "sheet  distances her life into a literary artifact: "left  half-kill'd,"  friend  as though he  who has  (the  he  talks of Haidee's story, which  of sorrows."  This  objectifies  and  a manuscript. Then he talks of Juan  narrator)  neglected him of late.  are  existed within Juan's  Finally,  he  deconstructs  world  this  as  a  illusion by  putting Juan not in a fictional place (e.g., a pirate ship), but in a stanza. The Muse, too, heralds a kind of jump from a "realistic" world to an imaginary one. Starting  with  writing  about  quite  plausible, writerly excuses  madness  and  he can't  for  his  change  think of anything else  (he to  doesn't  say),  he  like then  leaps onto the old literary bandwagon and blames it on the Muse, who is quite simply a personification of his own caprice. She is a scapegoat  for his own bad  habits, and yet, being the one responsible for lifting the veil (II, 7) and changing tack,  etc.,  she  has  an  existence  of  contrast  the  a  kind,  outside  both  Juan's  and  the  narrator's worlds. All  these  ironies  stanza  very  starkly  to  the  serious,  story-centred narration of "Up Juan sprang . . . ," in which the sheer drama of the  situation  questioning  for  and a  the  speaker's  moment  the  total  lack  of  "reality" of the  irony fiction,  preclude or  its  the  reader's  relation to  its  D I G R E S S I O N / 142 writer,  or to herself.  similar  to  what  What Byron  Genette  achieves by these contrasts  claims  narration."  devices which  make a counterpoint of story  are  "unbalanced,"  means  the  "simultaneous  both  By  for  "allowing  of  the  a  modern number  is in fact very  French of  phenomenon  stylistic  and discourse, the  whole  narrative  to  tip,  and  of  narrative  "equilibrium" of according to  the  slightest shifting of emphasis, either onto the side of the story or onto the side of the narrating, that is, the discourse."  45  The subtlest of this "tipping" is achieved, as discussed in earlier  chapters,  by stylistic devices such as rhyme and conceit. The structure of the stanza, too, is such as to demand a change effect  of  tilting  self-reflexiveness. first-person  one  148)),  or  Of course, the  pronoun, with  interpreting speaker other  way  of tone in its seventh line, and this has another,  which  this  summary  generalization ("The  towards  obvious cue for the  ("In  or  narrator's  poem is very liberally  can make himself  devices, such as  either  presence  he was  love of offspring's  is  the  in all sorts of  a very pretty  nature's  from  sprinkled. But the  "show through" his text short,  away  the  general  fellow"  (II,  law" (V, 133)),  bathos ("And the Lord Henry was a very great debater, / So that few members kept the house up later" (XIII, 20)), explanation ("The cutting off his head was not the art / Most likely to attain his aim—his heart" (V, 140)), or simply a very songs  witty turn are  Corydon'"  pure,  of phrase, except  capped  that  horrid  probably by one  /  a  witty rhyme  Beginning  with  ("But  Virgil's  'Formosum  Pastor  (I, 42)).  A temptation exists for the critical theorist to see the digressions in Don Juan  as a pulsation from story to speaker at the level of narrative, a large and  overt manifestation of what is evident at more microscopic levels of structure. To  D I G R E S S I O N / 143 some extent,  this hypothesis is unavoidable, since certain digressions (though not,  perhaps,  longer ones) do serve  the  composition  into  brief  the  confrontation  purpose  over  the  of bringing writer, reader heads  of  characters  and  and story.  Between two story-centred stanzas, beginning respectively "With the first ray, or rather  grey  of morn, / Gulbeyaz rose"  and  "Rose the  sultana  from  a bed of  splendour," for example, occurs the following:  And that's the moral of this composition, If people would but see its real drift;— But that they will not do without suspicion, Because all gentle readers have the gift Of closing 'gainst the light their orbs of vision; While gentle writers also love to lift Their voices 'gainst each other, which is natural, The numbers are too great for them to flatter all. (VI, 88)  Now  partly because  story—a judgement  this remark on the  has been prompted by a comment within  cause  of Gulbeyaz's depression  ("headlong  the  passions"  (87))—and partly because it is relatively short, the reader gets the impression of leaving  the  story  abruptly  for  moving—metaleptically—into  another  back  of  into  the  suspension  a  moment,  world  disbelief  to  that  freezing  comment the  fiction  on  its  time  it, before  demands.  and  descending  Indeed,  this  digression, like "But let me change this theme . . . ," is a good example of the poem's  characteristic  pulsation—here  at  the  level  of narrator's  discourse—from  story to story-making. And yet even here digressiveness subtly subverts this neat characterization. A playful  redundancy  somewhat unnecessarily from that  has  its  6  stanza,  leading the  speaker  "gentle readers" to "gentle writers" in a movement  own rhythm, much like  stick in Tristram Shandy.*  motivates the  that  famous  flourish  of Corporal Trim's  Only a little more of this would cause the reader  forget the exigencies of plot and character  to  and be lured into a more complete  D I G R E S S I O N / 144 participation against  in the  critics  of  new  dialogue, in which the  various  kinds  and  the  writer is defending  story  is  reduced  to  his writing  Exhibit  A,  a  "composition" among other such objects. This like  to  is the see  synechdochic consistent  problem with digression for the  macrostructure relationships  or  predictable  might  wander  across  rhyme  or conceit, to a  exactly  reflecting  existing between as  the  such  a  parts.  theory  boundaries  rigorous theorist microstructure Don Juan  would have  dividing  worlds  to  and  perfect  simply not  claim.  and  self-reflexive sense of texts and  is  who would  Its  lead,  as  discourse  like  a  fictions and  clever  such;  but  then  again, it might not. What it might do is merely elaborate and linger too  long  on  the  world  it  is  already  in,  stuffing  this  world  so  full  irrelevancies that other worlds and their boundaries are temporarily To complicate things still further,  of  plausible  forgotten.  the reader encounters a few  digressions  which are not essentially meditative, but narrative. Whereas most digressions  are  the narrator's personal asides and speculations, existing in a hypothetical, timeless inner  world,  subject-matter different  some, and  like  take  up  the  following  anecdote,  "real," past-tense  time.  from that of incidents in which Juan  have The  objective,  narration  is the protagonist:  singular  is not  very  "And yet last  night, being at a masquerade, / I saw the prettiest creature, fresh from Milan, / Which  gave  me  some  sensations  like  a  villain"  (II,  209).  In  fact,  even  transparent narration can occur within a digression: "I had / H i m borne into the house and up the  stair,  / A n d stripped, and looked to" (V, 34). However, the  duration of these passages is usually short and hence the reader does not as much time to get "lost in the story," forgetting the act of narration, as does in the longer unmediated sections of Juan's history.  have she  D I G R E S S I O N / 145 Following persuaded  to  this  line  develop  of  a  argument,  smoothly  of the  critic  shaded  combinations appearing in Don Juan. narration  the  or  theorist  continuum  from  habits  to  an  in  easily  be  matrix  of  transparent  main plot and digressive elaboration of detail within the main  understanding  Canto  XI  of the  (42-45),  and  she  discovers  commentary  generalized speculation or the anecdotes of another somewhat  which are thoroughly  main plot, such as  digressions which begin with relevant  explaining  the  The reader comes across both  plot. She finds on the one hand comments by the narrator relevant  may  apologetically Juan's  initial  on  the  the  but  asides other  then  on British hand  many  slide off into more  world, as when the indifference  to  narrator,  English  beauty,  goes on to a discussion of his own travels, then a generalized portrayal of the English  reaction  impossibility encounters  to  female  adultery  of legislating chastity digressions which are  being attacks  and  then  into existence  into  a  (XII, 68-80).  totally irrelevant to the  on Byron's own contemporaries,  meditation  personal  The  progress  anecdotes,  on  the  reader  also  of the  story,  metacomments  on the poem's style or composition, and addresses to readers and critics. Finally, to  complete  within the  the  critic's matrix,  the  reader  comes  upon  transparent  digressions, a neat complement to the digressive tendency  narration within  the  narration of the main story. In  the  face  dialectic between  of this  narration  barrage and  of variants,  digression must  the critic's temptation is to shade out contrast a  continuous  narrative them."  47  have  grey,  and  to  accept  Ross's  a commonality of purpose  If change be accepted  as the  the  older  theory  obviously be altogether,  formula: which  scrapped.  simple In  fact,  to blur the points into  "the  digressions  mutes any  norm rather than  of a  and  the  distinction between  as transgression,  then  D I G R E S S I O N / 146 Conrad's adaptation of Sterne's  single line may be used for the progress  of the  narrative, provided that, like Tristram's, it is not a straight line but a "winding, serpentine line [which] can lead inside itself': form's romantic liberation from content."  49  48  the arabesque,  which can "declare  If the purpose of the poem were to be  to wander, then it would not deviate from this purpose, and it would be, in an equivocal sense, unilinear. Clearly, this way of thinking can become over-permissive. Byron does not give himself licence to do anything he likes and then do it: he makes rules and breaks  them—or,  at  least,  some  of them. Don Juan  as  a  visual  phenomenon  resembles the strictly formal Gerusalemme liberata more than the relaxed, chaotic Tristram Shandy and, even as far as the non-visual aspect of narrative goes, it bears more wayward  affinities,  novel.  as  England  A . B . England notes, is  wrong  about  narrative and the digressions" in Don Juan,  to Tom Jones than to  the  "clear  distinction  Sterne's  between  the  but he makes a valuable comment,  quoting from Wayne Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction: One can say of certain parts of Tristram Shandy that the "dramatized narrator has here ceased to be distinguishable from what he narrates." But in Don Juan Byron always has a story to tell about events external to himself, which he views objectively, just as Fielding has in Tom Jones. 50  The critic may be able to palm off this story as Ross does when he insists that "the  assumption implicit in an ordinary definition  story which reader,  however, whether it is of primary  extremely abstract  is of primary importance will  important  and  speculation and  she  apprehends  of digression that there is a  not hold  for Don Juan."  51  For the  importance or not, the story remains it as  authorial metacomment.  quite  clearly  distinct from  And it is also quite  both  different  D I G R E S S I O N / 147 from any story or stories to be found in Tristram Shandy: Don Juan hero, who is not the narrator exciting  adventures  elaborateness  and  contains a  (or his uncle Toby), who experiences a series of  who  exists  in  and plausibility. The narrator  a  fictional  world  inhabits another  of  fictional  great  size,  world very  similar to his hero's, but extradiegetic in relation to it. Although fictional itself, the  narrator's  world  generates  the  fiction  that  is the  hero's  story.  When, on  occasion, the narrator enters the fictional world of his hero, the reader feels this at once to be a transgression—and  one of a type not found in Tristram  Shandy.  In the latter, time may be juggled to suggest more than one Tristram, but two of them never meet face to face in the same picture. Conrad's  arabesque  line  can  be  single,  though  convoluted, because  his  theory is in the end monistic: for him only one world exists in Sterne and the Romantics, and it is an inner world. To apply the following remarks too literally to Don Juan would be misleading: In one sense romantic poetry is styleless, because although the poets make language a reflection of personality, they abandon the notion of Reynolds and Johnson that style is a principle of order, in which a periodic syntax bends words into obedience and etymological learning guarantees correctness of usage: romantic syntax slides and rambles, hoping to discover new meanings in the course of its proliferation. But in another sense romantic poetry is entirely self-referring: it is a self-inquisition of language. 52  True, Byron's syntax  often  seems to be  on the  loose, and through  apparently  casual affinities he seems to make his best verbal discoveries: "Those movements, those improvements in our bodies / Which make all bodies anxious to get out / Of  their own sand-pits,  to mix with  a  Goddess" (IX, 75). But to regard  the  felicity of "improvements" as fortuitous would be in the end naive. Byron never consciously  abandoned  the  notions  of the  neo-classicists  53  and  if his  syntax  is  D I G R E S S I O N / 148 loose and appositional, it is so because classical decorum demands this within the stanza form he has chosen. The syntax in ottava rima tends to wander a little because  the  tyrannical mid-line regard  stanza  asks  exigencies which  the  licentious  to  here  wandering  an  of the  happen  effect  for  rhyme-scheme;  rhyme, as  in  More  order  poetry  generally  more  an  infinite  but inside which though  the  discoveries  "entirely  self-referring."  the  be  than  is  earlier  examples  entirely  regress,  the  which  the  the  up  in  reader  to  end-rhymes. talks  The of is  gives  wanting, the  poem, it does  Don not  the  in  from self  is  "self-referring"  is  Keats,  self-referential, Shelley  continually  is imageless." to  attention  the  and  disappears  sometimes  important  monopolize her  it claims poetry  is always  deep truth is  that  Romantic  Romantic poet  Juan  altogether.  perhaps  all language  Conrad  of  Perhaps  poetry;  on whose edge the  aspect  turn  Conrad  inappropriate  "self-referring";  "a voice / Is  of the  in  for  under  of Shandyist prose; these "Calculations which  comment  self-referential  understanding  words  appears  appears  Conrad's  be  poetry—even 55  diction falls  when two  reason  than  "Romantic." But unless  Wordsworth —cannot down  more  make  kind  self-referential  synonymous with Romantic  to  to  and  the  have a higher degree of formal difficulty  14  importantly,  Romantic  no  accidental  probably possible only in a look but casual flesh"  eight-line sentence;  teeters, 56  Even  reader's  all the  time.  Her experience is of a sporadic consciousness of the text and its creator, not a continuous awareness which would prevent her from being surprised. Perhaps my reader  is  an  ingenue,  entertaining,  and  does not always feel the narrative sections to be irritating digressions from  the  more serious business allegorical,  and  the  for  she  of the language  really finds Juan's  plot quite  poem. This plot, though fictional, of  the  narrative  is  often  is not obviously  highly  objective,  not  D I G R E S S I O N / 149 self-reflexive landscape  at  all. Moreover, the  of theories  poets,  world  is  not  and generalities either: it is the  solidity is essential to the kings,  narrator's  statesmen,  efficacy  and  of the  political  and  merely  an  interior  Europe of 1820, whose  satire Byron  hammers  social  This  abuses.  out upon its  referentiality and  the stringencies of his stanza save Byron from the two pitfalls of solipsism and formlessness which the arabesque  virtuosities of certain types of Romanticism can  lead to. Neither convoluted—will unforewarned by  a  a  graph  do  as  a  leap from  hiatus  plausibility,  that  like  shaded  diagram  the  these  the  of  greys  of Don  first  part  cannot of  the  a  Juan's  language to the  schemes  nor  single  narrative.  metalanguage  describe. following  line—however  The  unmediated,  needs to be marked  After  a  stanza,  passage  the  of  reader  great  will  be  propelled suddenly out of her absorption—or suspension—in the diegetic world, into the  air  above,  from  which  vantage  point  she  can  see  for  a  moment  its  composition: And if in the mean time her husband died, But Heaven forbid that such a thought should cross Her brain, though in a dream! (and then she sigh'd) Never could she survive that common loss; But just suppose that moment should betide, I only say suppose it— inter nos. (This should be entre nous, for Julia thought In French, but then the rhyme would go for nought.) (I, 84)  The  stanza  begins  in  what  attributable to character."  57  Chatman  defines  as  "free  indirect  style  .  .  .  So closely does it follow the diction and sequence of  Donna Julia's thoughts that (apart from the parenthesis) the third-person pronoun is  the  narrator  only has  thing distinguishing it by  this  stage  from  of Canto  I  free  direct  cornered  the  style.  Now, although  first-person  the  pronoun for  D I G R E S S I O N / 150 himself and intruded himself busily into the poem with it on numerous ("I  really  don't  appears  in line  narrator  seems  know  what,  6 above, to  have  nor  it  Julia  does not  "got  neither" seem  inside" Julia  (I,  71)),  intrusive to  when  in the  such  an  occasions  this  same  extent  pronoun  way.  that  The  the  "I"  appears to belong as much to her as to him, for the distance between them has been  reduced  almost  to the  extent  of fusion. In  fact,  my  reader's impression  when she reads line 6 is that the very slight transition from indirect to direct speech has been made, bringing no intrusion of the narrator's deeper  identification of Julia's. The Latin  neologism at  the  personality, only a end of the  line is  insufficiently jarring on its own to break  this illusion; it is close enough to the  Gallic  especially as  cliche it imitates  to pass muster,  idea that English is masquerading as  a bombshell, detonating  faith,  but  the  English  sense of spontaneity  not  here as  only the  diction which  the  a  vague  Spanish anyway. The couplet  comes  interior world  seemed  which turns out to be sweated  living identities of all of these. By calling the same to all the  and  ottava rima  Latin  has  of Julia's  so. characteristic  carefully established relationships between reader, narrator  does the  reader  hesitant  bad  plausible,  the  after  all, the  and character,  and the  into question, the  English; by placing one phrase under  erasure  couplet as  it  were, it does the same to the whole artifact. It mentions rhyme, giving example of a bad and expedient one, and the verse at once goes opaque for the reader. She  can  private  no  longer  thoughts,  or  assume of  the  fictional  (scandalized)  role  receiver  of  eavesdropper  of the  narrator's  on  characters'  gossip;  she  is  exploded suddenly into "reality" as the reader of an English poem pretending to convey the interior monologue of a Spanish lady who thinks in French, and, no doubt, French prose at that. The narrator,  stripped of his Spanish cloak, and, at  D I G R E S S I O N / 151 the same time, of Julia's mantilla which he had been in the act of trying on, is revealed as an English poet with a pen, not a voice, struggling to create a fiction containing people who do not speak English, in a stanza form which does not reflect the spontaneity of thought or speech in any language. Julia is killed by the blast  and lies anatomized in the dust,  a verbal puppet made of words  which no longer cohere; but the words themselves, through their deficiencies and the  inexorable  demands  the  stanza  makes  upon  them,  take  up  the  role of  spectacle now that the puppet-show has been abandoned. What depending  makes  on  parenthesis, using  the  before.  this  one's  particular  sympathies—is  transgression its  brevity.  so  It  is  effective—or introduced  disturbing, casually,  in  and the next stanza at once carries on Julia's monologue, this time first-person  pronoun  suddenness  is what  Its  that  might  makes  have  the  been  digression  introduced so  so  essentially  naturally metaleptic.  Conceivably, a comment of this kind could be fully explained "by the  narrating,  the act that consists precisely of introducing into one situation, the knowledge of another  situation."  58  By telling the  reader  exactly who he  witness and writer—by explaining how he has  is at  this  point—as  access to Julia's private  thoughts  and according to what principle he is translating them into English ottava the narrator  could bridge the  he does not; the has  she  reader  hiatus  and make the  two worlds continuous. But  is propelled across the inexplicable gap and no  glimpsed the metadrama  rima,  of poetic composition than  she  sooner  is flung back  into the fluid, crossing the same disturbing boundary as she falls. This is why many of the narrator's  shorter asides feel more  than the longer ones and why a system like Joseph's stanzas  of digression or commentary  cannot  be very  transgressive  which counts only whole useful.  59  Joseph obviously  D I G R E S S I O N / 152 equates digression with which I  have  wayside.  But Joseph  quality  he  ignoring those non-transgressive  60  called digressive, in which also  is interested  transgressive outward  transgression,  fails  inward  count  the  in, because they  digression will  and  to  the  be  more  crossings  are  narrator most  dallies too long by extreme  often  shorter  examples than  shocking if it is short,  of  the  hiatus  will  passages  register  a  the  of  the  stanza.  because both in  the  A the  reader's  consciousness at the same time. Also, the reader does not get the chance, as in longer digressions, to settle down again as discourse  after  the  first  transition,  the  her  receiver of a  relationship  to  different  narrator  kind of  and  story  re-established on a new basis. Some digressions may include transparent narration for  precisely this reason: as long as the extradiegetic world remains constant,  it  becomes diegetic in a new sense, and is not necessarily self-reflexive, even if it refers to another part or aspect of the poem. The point at which the  reader experiences  the  impossible juxtaposition of  two mutually contradictory worlds marks the extreme case of self-reflexiveness, or textual opaqueness, per  se, but  in the poem. These metaleptic transitions are not digressions  they often  introduce  and close digressions  bound up with the digressive tendency its own is often associated,  as is fast-paced  in self-reflexiveness. The apparently world both  fills  up  its space,  work in favour  diegetic  and  extradiegetic  fictional. is the  text's transparency  as  at  "real" seen  the  are intimately  However, this tendency on  narration of action, with low points  unnecessary  concentrated  of plausibiltiy, Only  in Don Juan.  and they  elaboration of detail within  narration  objectivity and line of interface  to be fictional,  the  of action fills the  up its  making "real" of  between  the  diegetic  objective subjective,  dyed dark with knowledge of its own artificiality.  and  one time: the and the  D I G R E S S I O N / 153 The  frequency—as  well  as  variety—of transgression  plays  a  role in  the  relative unsettling of the reader. Degrees of "jolt" can even be charted, for some transitions  open  chasms  unexpectedly  and  blatantly  homogenous discourse, while others lead the reader  in  the  middle  of  fairly  scarcely perceptibly down the  windings of the garden path, and only on the return journey does she find, out that  she  is  frequent—are  in  the  labyrinth.  Still  others—and  these  may  be  the  most  subtle, embedded in language or style, and the reader may or may  not take the instantaneous Many of the  flashing loop in and out of the extradiegetic world.  more jolting transitions are  heralded by poetic exclamations  in which some theme immanent to the story is abstracted vocative, as if the narrator  and addressed  in the  suddenly tires of the self-effacing role of story-maker  and sweeps around himself the embroidered cloak of the lyric poet: And now 'twas done—on the lone shore were plighted Their hearts; the stars, their nuptial torches, shed Beauty upon the beautiful they lighted: Ocean their witness, and the cave their bed, By their own feelings hallowed and united, Their priest was Solitude, and they were wed: And they were happy, for to their young eyes Each was an angel, and earth paradise. Oh Love! of whom great Caesar was the suitor, Titus the master, Antony the slave, Horace, Catullus, scholars, Ovid tutor, Sappho the sage blue-stocking, in whose grave A l l those may leap who rather would be neuter— (Leucadia's rock still overlooks the wave)— Oh Love! thou art the very god of evil, For, after all, we cannot call thee devil. (II, 204-05)  This type of transition is not unprecedented  in the vatic tradition, in which the  poet in the frenzy of his inspiration is constrained to exclaim a great deal. The invocation,  like  the  epic  simile,  brings  with  it  a  number  of  syntactic  and  D I G R E S S I O N / 154 semantic changes  which may be used to subvert the story's world and establish  a new one. For a start, the main verbs  associated with the personified quality  (here, "Love"), will usually be present tense ("thou art"), in contrast to the past tense of the narrative ("Each was"). Also, the pronouns change from third-person plural  ("they")  to  second-person  singular  ("thou").  A  speaker  tense and a second-person pronoun is at once in centre and  his  personal  performance. When  the  pronoun  A n d the narrator  ("I")  receiver uses  the  become  can  be  the  dominant  pronoun  present  stage: his present  actively co-opted  first-person  using a  presuppositions by  here,  the  he  time  of  the  situation,  too.  employs  not  the  singular, "I," but the plural, "we," which breaks down to "you and I," and thus pulls the reader  out of the pit and onto the stage as well. Although the initial  vocative is merely a personified—deified—concept, the mere fact that a vocative is used puts the reader into the position of a potential performer: she could be the next  one  nominated.  fictional—world.  mak'st  the  stage  is  the  narrator's  extradiegetic—but  The puppets, Juan and Haidee, do not call out to the  but the puppeteer This  And the  himself opens the floor to dramatic interaction.  particular chaste  invocation  continues  through  connubial state precarious"  two  stanzas:  mak'st  respondent.  story, but by a  This  question  direct question—a  reduces  the  which can be discussed by narrator the  transgression:  digression wanders an anecdote  from  "But  Juan!  had  story  to  device which  an  object,  "Thou  philosophers"  (207). After running its course, it is not followed by a return to the medium of the  audience,  61  more  (206); "Thou  still  transparent  presupposes  motionless  a  in time,  and reader in a new present opened up by he  forgotten  on through the narrator's  Julia?"  (208).  And  so  this  personal feelings about inconstancy,  "last night" which demonstrates  these attitudes,  an account of  D I G R E S S I O N / 155 man's  "perception of the beautiful," a discussion of the inextricability of all the  passions, and finally a farewell to the reader, which comprises the last stanza of this canto (209-216). Of  course,  personified  the  abstractions  exclamatory  tendency  is  used  not  to  invoke  in the high style (or a parody of the high style) as in  "Oh Love! O Glory!" (VII, 1), "Oh, Death! thou dunnest "Oh  merely  for a forty-parson power to chaunt  of all duns!" ( X V , 8),  / Thy praise, Hypocrisy!"  (X, 34).  It  may introduce elegy: "Alas! for Juan and Haidee!" (II, 193), "Alas! Worlds fall" (XIV,  23)."  And  occasionally it  will  occur  as  an  isolated  expletive  in  the  narrative—just enough to remind the reader that a speaker is present: " B y Jove! he was a noble fellow, Johnson" (VIII, 39). (Significantly, the latter  brief stain  on the narrative brings with it no alteration in the pronoun or the tense of the verb: it is not a pretext for an excursion, but a memento from another world.) Exclamation is also frequently associated with vocative tendencies kinds. The ' narrator  of other  might address—in the mock-heroic style—an inanimate object  within the story's world: "Hail! Thamis, hail!"; and this has the effect of making the  story's  world  Thames  exists,  shifting  of  for  a moment  importantly, for  Juan's  story  into  continuous him as the  with  the  speaker's.  Obviously,  as  for  Juan  and  his  gives  Juan's  well  present  tense  the  temporary journey  a  representative generality: Hail! Thamis, hail! Upon thy verge it is That Juan's chariot, rolling like a drum In thunder, holds the way it can't well miss, Through Kennington, and all the other "tons," Which make us wish ourselves in town at once. (XI, 20)  Alternatively,  the  narrator  may  address  some  character  in the  narrative  D I G R E S S I O N / 156 ("Oh  Catherine!" (IX, 65)), some historical figure ("Oh Plato! Plato!" (I, 116)) or  a character from another fiction who appears at some point relevant to the story or But  the discourse ("O Job! you had two friends: one's quite enough" (XIV, 48)). vocatives  are  used  equally often  some living person who may  chance  for  more  to read  dramatic  the  purposes:  poem and  to  address  actually fulfil  the  role of receiver: "Oh, M r s . F r y ! " (X, 85); "Oh, Wellington!" (IX, 1); "Cockneys of London!" (VIII, 124). When the narrator  addresses his publisher in an aside,  it is a foregone conclusion that the sender-receiver relationship will be completed: "(Plain truth, dear Murray, needs few flowers of speech)" (V, 101). This  address  to a known contemporary has exactly the intimacy of tone to be found in many passages aimed quite clearly at the reader—or assumes  at one of the roles she willingly  at the text's command. A voice out of the page frequently co-opts her  as receiver, by addressing directly whoever it is in any age that happens to be perusing the text at that moment. This voice varies as often as the moods  do,  bullying,  patient  been  flattering,  of late"  (XIII,  teasing  74);  and  cajoling:  "But what's  "But,  this  to  the  narrator's  reader,  thou  purpose?  hast  you  will  say. / Gent. Reader, nothing; a mere speculation" (XIV, 7); "There is a tide in the "Put  affairs /  don't—I  A  of men / Which kind  am  constuction  not less free"  places—and it is often hypothetically present  is  for  the  the  upon  at them  the  flood"—you  and  me:  (VI, 57). Whatever the  imperative, or some  reader's  her  taken  own present  most  other  time,  self-reflexive  of  and  /  know the But  form  rest" (VI, 1);  that you of the  won't—then  verb in these  non-indicative mood—it consciousness  all perspectives  charts  of this on  the  "real" poem's  fictions. Changes in verb tense or mood may be introduced by devices other  than  D I G R E S S I O N / 157 exclamations and vocatives. Similes—of the adverbial, not the adjectival type—will often  bring about a change to a verb of the  "Gulbeyaz rose from  restlessness;  simple or habitual present  and pale / A s Passion rises,  with  tense:  its bosom  worn" (italics mine; V I , 87); and so will generalization, when a universal truth is stated: "Love bears within its breast the very germ / Of change" ( X I V , 94). As  with  other  devices, this type  of transition will  depend  on context for  the  intensity of its shock effect. The second stanza quoted below marks a somewhat disquieting  transition,  follows so transparent  partly  because  the  generalization  with  which  it  begins  a passage of narration:  And then they bound him where he fell, and bore Juan from the apartment: with a sign Old Lambro bade them take him to the shore, Where lay some ships which were to sail at nine. They laid him in a boat, and plied the oar Until they reach'd some galliots, placed in line; On board of one of these, and under hatches, They stowed him, with strict orders to the watches. The  world is full of strange vicissitudes, And here was one exceedingly unpleasant: A gentleman so rich in the world's goods, Handsome and young, enjoying all the present, Just at the very time when he least broods On such a thing is suddenly to sea sent, Wounded and chain'd, so that he cannot move, And all because a lady fell in love. (IV, 50-51)  With  the  present-tense  generalization  move, and the verbs, after an  about  stanza  or to  the act  speaker's in the  "world,"  the  story  ceases  to  "was," become present as well. The story turns into  object for contemplation; time registered  time,  the  present, present  and  when  himself, the  by the meditation is now narrative this  speaker  transition from  goes  on  implicit  in  the  next  existence  explicit existence is not as jolting as the initial change of tense and tack:  to  D I G R E S S I O N / 158  Here I must leave him, for I grow pathetic, Moved by the Chinese nymph of tears, green tea! Than whom Cassandra was not more prophetic; For if my pure libations exceed three, I feel my heart become so sympathetic, That I must have recourse to black Bohea: 'Tis pity wine should be so deleterious, For tea and coffee leave us much more serious, Unless when qualified with thee, Cogniac! Sweet Naiad of the Phlegethontic rill! Ah! why the liver wilt thou thus attack, And make, like other nymphs, thy lovers ill? I would take refuge in weak punch, but rack (In each sense of the word), whene'er I fill M y mild and midnight beakers to the brim, Wakes me next morning with its synonym. (IV, 52-53)  Among  the  verbs  in  these  two  hypothetical or habitual—present:  stanzas,  only  one  signifies  the verb "grow" in the  first  an  active—not  line, which would  be more naturally rendered in the normal English progressive: "am growing." The narrator,  being a narrator  rather  than  a third-person protagonist, is not able to  project himself as actively doing many things in his present, writing, he  except for saying,  thinking, "grow[ing] pathetic" or changing to some other  does  use  protagonist.  this  tense of the  verb, he  His narrating is shown as  throws  the  a dramatic  mood.  63  When  spotlight onto himself  as  activity, even though, being  an essentially intellectual pursuit, it prevents him from doing very much prancing about  under  the  light.  When  the  different  beverages,  he  remains  becomes  much less  reflexive because  simple present,  which  but  activity which  a  habitual  utterance.  digression  the  in English  does  wanders  protagonist the  verbs  as are  on  drinker;  Thus, Byron the imbiber of tea  the  but  merits  the  a  taking place at  particular the  of  discourse  correctly inflected into  not normally signify  is probably not  into  the  event,  moment of  and punch is seen through a  rather  D I G R E S S I O N / 159 more  general  and  less  present  time  frame  than  Byron  the  experiencer  of  sympathy. However, the digression from A  measure  she  of its success  begins to forget  playful  send-up  and narrator's  the  Juan's  story is very successfully  is its ability to entertain—divert—the urgency of Juan's  situation in her  sustained.  reader,  so that  enjoyment  of this  of the heroic mode. A shifting contrast of tones charts reader's progressive alienation from Juan  and his predicament. Speculating  on "vicissitudes" (in general) is not the same as sympathising with an individual suffering from one; talking about "grow[ing] pathetic" creates an ironic perspective on  the  starts  pathetic his  sensation,  not  this  sensation  comic eulogies  and  humorous  itself. B y the  complaints,  the  time  reader  the is  narrator no  longer  involved with Juan emotionally, and can participate in the game. Her alienation allows the narrator  to leave Juan's  part of the story "for the present"  order  another  of the  to  return  to  thread  narrative:  the  last  part  (54) in  of Haidee's  story, which is now separate from Juan's due to their physical separation. Other midst  of  devices which  past-tense  quite  narration  naturally are  introduce  exclamations,  the  present  asides  and  authorial hesitancy or ignorance. Like most effects in Don Juan,  tense  in  the  declarations  of  these can cloud  briefly the glassy medium of narration: Then there were billiards; cards, too, but no dice; Save in the Clubs no man of honour plays;— Boats when 'twas water, skaiting when 'twas ice (XIII, 106); It was a spacious chamber (Oda is The Turkish title), and ranged round the wall Were couches, toilets (VI, 51);  D I G R E S S I O N / 160 A l l trembling, wondering, without the least notion More than I have myself of what could make The calm Dudu so turbulently wake. (VI, 71)  But they can also be the  transgressive  triggers  for longer excursions, as  when  the transition from the narrative past ("saw") to the explanatory, general present ("make")  takes the discourse into a digression of several stanzas on the  subject  of the Islamic paradise: The eldest was a true and tameless Tartar, As great a scorner of the Nazarene As ever Mahomet picked out for a martyr, Who only saw the black-eyed girls in green, Who make the beds of those who won't take quarter On earth, in Paradise (VIII, 111);  or when, after  stating declaratively that, "after  a good deal of heavy firing,  [Juan] found himself alone, and friends retiring," the narrator  /  goes on to wonder,  in his own present: I don't know how the thing occurred—it might Be that the greater part were killed or wounded, And that the rest had faced unto the right About; a circumstance which has confounded Caesar himself, who in the very sight Of his whole army, which so much abounded In courage, was obliged to snatch a shield And rally back his Romans to the field. (VIII, 28) All when  these transgressions  they  are  embedded  example,  in  habitual  past-tense  afternoons  Canto  in  and transitions non-narrative  X I , Juan's verbs:  "His  early  days  morns  he  are or  rendered less  narrative  in London are passed  much less  in  effective  discourse.  For  given in terms  business"  (65);  of  "His  he passed in visits, luncheons" (66). The effect is more of description  than narration; hence, when a passage is inserted in the habitual present, it is  D I G R E S S I O N / 161 not felt to be much of a transgression: Then dress, then dinner, then awakes the world! Then glare the lamps, then whirl the wheels, then roar Through street and square fast flashing chariots, hurled Like harnessed meteors; then along the floor Chalk mimics painting; then festoons are twirl'd; Then roll the brazen thunders of the door, Which opens to the thousand happy few An earthly Paradise of "Or Molu." (XI, 67)  Distinguishing Juan's  world  from  the  narrator's  is not  at  this  point  easy—or  important—to achieve. Both characters belong, or have belonged, to the "thousand happy few" and both are, or have been, taken up by the general and ongoing life  of the city. A hypothetical guest  company" (69)), a reader next  at  supper"  (72)),  ("he  who, after  a survey / Of the good  with possible designs on an heiress well-known  and  less  well-known  ("if you can, get  "real" figures  of  the  period ("Brumel," "Wellesley," "George the Third" (78), "the Lady Carolines and Franceses" rap"  (80)), the  (84)),  are  narrator  all equally  himself part  ("I have  with  Juan  seen of  the  this  landholders without a  "mighty  Babylon"  (23):  London. Similarly,  in  Canto  I V , when  Juan,  himself  otherwise  preoccupied,  is  passing the "shores of Ilion" (75) in a pirate ship, and the narrator elaborately describes  these  first-person  shores  anyway, the  transition to  pronoun is not a jolt for the reader  sought for Ilion's walls, / The quiet sheep feeds, because  she  already  The narrator's Juan; Harold  clearly  apprehends  younger self is nearly as  that  his  two stanzas  a  tourist;  but  he  is,  like  Juan,  the  on: "but where I  are  not Juan's  perceptions.  and non-reflexive a device as  he is more meditative a protagonist, perhaps, did,  and  and the tortoise crawls" (77);  these  distant  own experience  having travelled as  objectified,  the  butt  of  Childe irony  D I G R E S S I O N / 162 ("school-boy feelings" (78)), and he, too, is ascribed actions in the  active  past  tense ("I sought" (77); "I found" (78)). Many of the longer and more variable digressions occur at the ends and, even more frequently, at mute this  the beginnings of cantos. Both these positions help to  the effect of transgression for the reader, more  effectively  because  an  ending must  though the initial position does be predicted or tagged  before  it  occurs, whereas a beginning is self-evident. Reading or reciting a long poem will normally take  several sessions; the books or cantos  of epics imitate the earlier  oral tradition of separate performances of manageable lengths. Pulci, Boiardo and Ariosto  stylized  into  the  written  tradition  the  oral  ottava  rima  narrative  convention of addressing the "real" audience at these points. A t the beginning of a  canto, the poet "invit[es] his audience to listen and remind[s] them of where  he had broken off the last canto." A t the end of a canto, the audience is "often asked  to  return  and  hear  the  next  canto  .  .  .  [and]  prediction of what the next canto will contain is made."  64  sometimes  a  vague  Of course, Don  Juan's  beginnings and endings are usually more complex than this, but they do almost always  contain  progress.  65  Even  respectability, similar  an  address without  however,  passages  to the  they  readers  or  traditional would  occurring in  a  discussion of  convention  "naturally"  mid-canto.  The  to  seem  give  less  narrator  the  text these  and  passages  transgressive  signals  pauses  its  than in  the  otherwise continuous present time of his narrating (and the receiver's reading) at these points: he goes off at the end of Canto I X "to take a quiet ride in some green lane" (85); and at time  the the  end of Canto X I I he orders  out  to  "read  all  National-Debt sinkers"  aftermath  of  these  separations  of  narrator,  reader  the  reader  to  take and  (89).  As  prelude  to  and  text,  some  form  of  D I G R E S S I O N / 163 farewell  and  some  natural. Even  kind  when the  of  re-assembly  narrator  of  relationships  does not begin with  and  materials  some remark  about his  intentions ("I want a hero" (I, 1); "I now mean to be serious" (XIII, launches  at  once  into a  speculation on Newton (X), Berkeley  seem  1)), but  (XI) or  avarice  (XII), these passages are not strictly transgressive, since nothing precedes them on the  fresh  new  page  speculations into the  for  the  speaker  to  transgress.  story is transgressive,  but  The  the  descent  narrator  from  these  normally proceeds  somewhat gradually, keeping his reader clearly informed about his progress: " A n d now to business.—Oh, my gentle Juan! / Thou art in London" (XII, 23). Taking all things into account, I must conclude that digression is a much more complex device in Don Juan  than  most critics  have  estimated.  A  better  strategy than to regard it as one separate category is to see it as the result of three tendencies on the part of the narrator. Two of these—the accumulative and the "digressive" —are fairly similar; the other—the  transgressive—is quite different  in nature. The reader recognizes these tendencies in the minute particulars of the poem  as  well  as  in the  larger  structures,  and often  she  discovers their more  extreme manifestations in the shorter examples. In the case of transgression, its most shocking effects defined  as  are  digressions.  these tendencies,  to be found in narrative  Context is  extremely  structures  important  in consideration of all  as  it may  foreground  to  very  variable  degrees.  context, rather  than  vice versa, as when a long transgressive  ways  and  distract  the  reader's  attention  from  or background them  Also,  a  they  crucial  may  which cannot be  be  in a great used  point in the  to  many  manipulate  aside is used to plot,  so  that  the  narrator may execute a transition to another thread of narrative, or may suggest time passing within the  story. These narrative  strategies  are  employed, subtly,  D I G R E S S I O N / 164 by  most  writers  of fiction;  however,  few narrators  uncover  their  strategies  as  disarmingly, or show the abyss over which they leap as disturbingly—or, indeed, execute  these  dizzying  take-offs  into  other  fictional  or  diagetic  worlds  as  frequently—as Byron's transgressive narrator in this poem.  NOTES TO C H A P T E R IV Edwin Morgan, "Voice, Tone and Transition in Don Juan," Rhyme, ed. Alan Bold (New Jersey: Barnes and Noble, 1983) 70. :  2  Wrath  and  John Jump, Byron (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972) 112.  A . B . England, Byron's Don Juan and Eighteenth-Century Literature (Lewisburg: Bucknell U P , 1975) 161. See also T. S. Eliot, who, in his essay on Byron, writes about the earlier poet's "genius for digression, for wandering away from his subject (usually to talk about himself) and then suddenly returning to it." On Poetry and Poets (London: Faber, 1957) 202. 3  4  Harold Bloom, The Visionary Company (Ithaca: Cornell U P , 1971) 266.  England 161. 6  M . K . Joseph, Byron the Poet (London: Victor Gollancz, 1964) 334.  'Alvin 176-79. 'Jerome 1976) 107-14.  B. J.  Kernan, McGann,  The  Plot  of  Don Juan  Satire in  (New  Context  Haven:  Yale  (Chicago: U  of  UP,  1965)  Chicago P,  'See Anne K . Mellor, English Romantic Irony (Cambridge: Harvard U P , 1980) 53, where she writes of the "antithetical voice of the narrator" in the digressions; and Peter L . Thorslev, Jr., Romantic Contraries (New Haven: Yale U P , 1984) 173-75, where he examines the way the ironic narrator "undermines" in his asides the love of Haidee and Juan presented in the narrative. W . T. Ross, "Digressive Narrative and Narrative Technique in Byron's Don Juan," diss., U of Virginia, 1970, 109. 10  n  " B y r o n is quite capable of a two-line digression." Ross 108.  D I G R E S S I O N / 165 l2  Ross 108-09.  "Joseph 334. 14  Ross 110.  "Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse (Ithaca: Cornell U P , 1978) 248. 1 6  M . M . Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination,  17  Bakhtin 43-49.  (Austin: U of Texas P, 1981)  5-6.  "The narrator in Pushkin's Eugene Onegin (New York: Dutton, i981) frequently compares Eugene with Childe Harold (ch.l, v.38, 22; ch.4, v.44, 107; ch.8, v.8, 198). In Eugene's library there is a portrait of Byron, and, among "Some works" which had been "exempt" from Eugene's "contempt," are those of the "bard of Don Juan and Giaour" (ch.7, v. 19, 173; v.22, 174). But besides these parodic uses and the melodramatic epigraph to chapter 8 (193), the poem has a similar chatty tone and sense of narrator's time to those of Don Juan. "Gerard Genette, Narrative Discourse, (Ithaca: Cornell U P , 1980) 235. "Genette  234.  The title of Ross's dissertation includes the term "digressive narrator" and the theme of digressiveness is pursued throughout the work. Unfortunately, Ross's observation that some digressions are the result of this insouciant tendency leads him to assume that they all are, and he does not notice that metalepsis is rather different. 21  Sigmund 1961) 32-33. 22  UP,  "Tzvetan 1977) 73.  Freud,  Beyond  the  Pleasure  Principle.  (New  Todorov, "Narrative-Men," The Poetics of Prose  York:  Liveright,  (Ithaca:  Cornell  Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot (New York: Knopf, 1984) 104. This Freudian theory, utilized by Todorov and exploited and developed by Brooks, implicitly contains Roland Barthes' structural analysis of narratives (exhaustively laid out in Image-Music-Text (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977)) and his strip-tease metaphor for reading (The Pleasure of the Text (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977) 10-11). The reader longs to tear off the veil faster, and will sometimes "boldly skip (no one is watching) descriptions, explanations, analyses, conversations." However, in doing this the reader deprives him- or herself of the pleasure of the entire process, the "gradual unveiling," which is, in fact, essentially a postponement of the end. 24  House  "For a discussion of this tradition, see William A . Clung, The Country in English Renaissance Poetry (Berkeley: U of California P, 1977),  D I G R E S S I O N / 166 especially "Later Estate Poems: Cotton and mention of Byron's Norman Abbey stanzas.  Pope"  (174-80),  which  includes  "John Milton, Paradise Lost IV, from line 285: "where the Fiend / Saw undelighted all delight." Poetical Works (London: Oxford U P , 1966) 281. "Paul 1960) 63.  West,  Byron  and  the Spoiler's  Art  (London: Chatto  and Windus,  "Truman Guy Steffan, Byron's Don Juan I : The Making of a Masterpiece (Austin: U of Texas P, 1957) 65. Steffan quotes from a letter to John Murray (August 26, 1813) on the subject of the growth of The Giaour, in which Byron refers to "this snake of a poem—which has been lengthening its rattles every month" and then uses the same image as a covering metaphor for the growth of Don Juan as well. Byron, Letters and Journals III (Cambridge: Harvard U P , 1974) 100. 29  Kernan 178, 176-77.  Roland Barthes, who, in his "Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives," coins for the more "trivial incidents or descriptions" in a narrative the term "catalysers," claims that these "catalysers" are never "purely redundant." Unlike the "risky," "potentially implausible framework of "nuclei" (the "real hinge-points of the narrative"), "the catalysers lay out areas of safety, rests, luxuries." Also, they "[maintain] the contact between narrator and addressee." Image-Music-Text (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977) 93-95. 30  3l  Peter Conrad, Shandyism  (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978) 103.  "See Antonio's "Letter About the Novel," Friedrich Schlegel, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, (University Park: The Pennsylvania State U P , 1968) 96. "Conrad  100.  34  West, Byron and the Spoiler's Art 63.  3i  Kernan  174.  " M c G a n n , Don Juan in Context 104. "This cancelled preface appears in the variorum edition of Don Juan used in this dissertation (II, 3-7). It is a parody of Wordsworth's preface to "The Thorn" and was probably abandoned precisely because the narrator became more and more obviously a portrayal of Byron himself as Don Juan progressed. After announcing as early as II, 105, that he had swum the Hellespont (a feat of which Byron often boasted), this narrator had already become too central for the pretence that he was entering the scene only as an "English Editor" (6) to be plausible. In any case, the poem, unlike the preface, never gives the reader instructions to regard itself as having dual authorship. The potentially Spanish  D I G R E S S I O N / 167 persona of the speaker in parts of Canto I is soon subsumed by Byron, who sometimes lies, for example, when he talks of his "grandmother's review—the British" (I, 109), and sometimes tells the truth, as when he mentions his "grand-dad's 'Narrative'" (II, 137). "Genette  263.  "Mellor 31. Also, McGann, Fiery Dust (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1968) 287; K a r l Kroeber, Romantic Narrative Art (Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1960) 145; Louis Kronenberger, The Polished Surface (New York: Knopf, 1969) 153; Jump 140. ""Mellor 4, 5. "'Chatman  146-264.  "Chatman  167.  "'Chatman  168.  ""Chatman 248-53. Chatman's distinction between the self-conscious devices of Romantic irony (to be found in Jacques le fataliste) and the "deconstrucive" devices of certain modern novels and films (Becket's Watt and Vertov's The Man with the Movie Camera, for example), seems confusing and inadequately drawn (251). When the narrator in Don Juan exclaims: "Much English I cannot pretend to speak" (II, 165), he is surely being as "deconstructive" as Beckett's narrator when he posits a girl with haemophilia in Watt; and yet Don Juan has been claimed as a seminal work of Romantic irony by Mellor, Thorslev, Conrad and R. R. Pemberton ("The Romantic Irony of Lord Byron," diss., U of California, 1974). Mellor's distinction between Romantic irony and later philosophical positions which also conceive the universe as chaos (existentialism, for example), seems more useful. According to her, the later philosopher confronts the same disjointed world as the Romantic ironist; yet his observer experiences not exuberance but angst. The true Romantic ironist is exhilarated by the endless abundance of a chaotic universe; Lewis Carrol and the existentialists are terrified by it. Becket's reaction could perhaps be described as disgust. Mellor 186-89. " Genette 5  219.  "'Laurence Sterne, The Life and (New York: Modern Library, n.d.) 629. "'Ross 110. "'Conrad 100. "'Conrad 104. "England 161.  Opinions  of Tristram  Shandy  Gentleman  D I G R E S S I O N / 168 51  Ross 110.  "Conrad 96. "England examines the influence of the eighteenth-century writers on Byron in some detail. He concludes that "the kinds of rhetorical structure to which Byron in his own rhetoric in Don Juan is most closely and most frequently related do not represent those aspects of eighteenth-century literature of which he was most consciously an advocate [i.e., aspects of the style of Pope, in particular]" (148). However, England concedes that Byron did possess some of the characteristics of the earlier period, and these are to be found mostly in the type of control exercised over his subject-matter, a control Byron discovered and admired in Fielding, and which he contrasted favourably with what he called the "vulgarity" of his own contemporaries (149-50). This "vulgarity," whose implications England does not pursue, is obviously to be associated with a setting free of words or subject-matter—of which Conrad would probably approve. "W. 1952) 375.  B . Yeats, "The  Statues,"  The  Collected Poems (London: MacMillan,  "Conrad 96. "Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Works (London: Oxford U P , 1968) 238.  Unbound  II,  iv,  11.115-16, Poetical  "Chatman 203. "Genette 234. "Joseph 334. '"Joseph defines "'digression' properly so-called" as "passages in which Byron temporarily takes leave of the story to make some personal aside or general statement, for which there is no immediate basis in the story" (199). "See chapter V I , note 19. "Byron parodies his own frequent use of this expletive at the end of Canto I: "But I, being fond of true philosophy, / Say very often to myself 'Alas!'" (220). "The narrator normally dominates however, as chapter V I demonstrates.  and  "Robert M . Durling, The Figure (Cambridge: Harvard U P , 1965) 93-94.  of  shares the  Poet  the in  reader's  present,  Renaissance  Epic  "Canto XIII of Don Juan is an exception to this rule: it ends with narrative. What makes its conclusion feel final is that all the characters retire to bed at this point. (Of course, Canto X V I , which is the last part of the poem  D I G R E S S I O N / 169 that Byron sent to his publisher, ends in media res rather more spectacularly, but even in the face of the existing fragment of Canto X V I I , the reader cannot know for sure that Canto X V I would have ended where it now ends had Byron lived to continue his poem.)  CHAPTER V  T H E P O E T AS TRANSGRESSOR  Among the howls of moral outrage with which Don Juan its first publication were several strongly-worded protests as  a treacherous  was greeted on  against what was seen  inconstancy in its poetic mode. Byron was not to be  forgiven  by those early readers for "passing at once with a surprising and unaccountable indifference, burlesque  from  similes and  poetry, which been  images  in  a  pathos,  expressions."  almost redeems  mixed up with  Blackwood,  of  1  beauty, The  the third  and  desire  grandeur,  was  expressed  Canto . . . from  very much that is equally frivolous  private  letter,  confessed  that  it  to  "was  ludicrous that  "the  reprobation, had and foolish." not  the  2  and fine not  William  grossness  or  blackguardism which struck [him], but it was the vile, heartless, and cold-blooded way  this  fiend  human heart."  3  to be quoted at  attempted  to  degrade  every  sacred  and  tender  feeling  of  the  The most perceptive and ambiguous of these complaints deserves length. William  Scott which was interrupted  Hazlitt,  in a fascinating essay  and transformed  on Byron  towards the end by the news of  Byron's death, writes the following:  The Don Juan indeed has great power; but its power is owing to the force of the serious writing, and to the contrast between that and the flashy passages with which it is interlarded. From the sublime to 170  and  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 171 the ridiculous is but one step. Y o u laugh and are surprised that anyone should turn round and travestie himself: the drollery is in the utter discontinuity of ideas and feelings. He makes virtue serve as a foil to vice; dandyism is, (for want of any other) a variety of genius. A classical intoxication is followed by the splashing of sodawater, by frothy effusions of ordinary bile. After the lightning and hurricane, we are introduced to the interior of the cabin and the contents of the washhand basins. The solemn hero of tragedy plays Scrub in the farce. This is 'very tolerable and not to be endured.' The noble lord is almost the only writer who has prostituted his talents in this way. He hallows in order to desecrate, takes a pleasure in defacing the images of beauty his hands have wrought, and raises our hopes and our belief in goodness to Heaven only to dash them to earth again and break them in pieces the more effectually from the very height they have fallen. Our enthusiasm for genius or virtue is thus turned into a jest by the very person who has kindled it, and who thus fatally quenches the spark of both. It is not that Lord Byron is sometimes serious and sometimes trifling, sometimes profligate and sometimes moral; but when he is most serious and most moral, he is only preparing to mortify the unsuspecting reader by putting a pitiful hoax upon him. This is a most unaccountable anomaly. It is as if the eagle were to build its eyry in a common sewer, or the owl were seen soaring to the mid-day sun. Such a sight might make one laugh, but one would not wish or expect it to occur more than once."  This is not mere unwilling  "peevish invective"; it contains wonderful insights and much 5  admiration.  over-serious  as  well  The as  age  whose  cant  increasingly moralistic.  Byron  deplored  Hazlitt,  like  was  so  becoming  many  of  his  contemporaries, simply could not bear the sublimity of "lightning" and "hurricane" to be juxtaposed to the mundane—the "contents  of  the  wash-hand  "interior of the cabin"—or the  basins."  His  fastidiousness  expresses  sordid—the the  time's  growing suspicion that dignity is incompatible with the acknowledgement of bodily functions, and that what is sacred must not be ridiculed. However, unerringly  on  "contrast," characteristic  despite the  all this  pulse  "discontinuity," to  be  its  of Don  incipient Victorianism, Juan.  "travestie,"  The "hoax";  transgressiveness,  not  poem  Hazlitt  works  on  she  finds  its  so  much  in  puts the most the  his  finger  reader  by  disturbing formal  and  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 172 narrative aspects discussed in previous chapters, as in its moral, sentimental and metaphysical consistencies. Don Juan  is profoundly ironical, and yet, in tone, it is  not ironical all of the time. The reader bluff  will probably remember  humour of the man of the world, the  who,  self-mocking  but  unembittered,  has  afterwards  the  tolerant teasing of the aging roue  seen  through  all  the  deceptions  of  innocence and hypocrisy without losing his capacity for pity or for admiration. And  yet  in the  actual  experience  of reading  she  is conscious of many  other  notes outside this range and often discordant with it. She hears in "real time" a sequence  of melodies on different instruments  and in shifting keys which do not  always set each other off to best advantage  or modulate harmonically from one  to another. Neither discord nor hiatus is a necessary feature of the ironic mode. The narrator of even a long novel can retain a sceptical distance from characters and events, Fielding  without does  necessarily this  in  Tom  undercutting Jones,  all  even  at  their  aspirations  moments  of  and  great  outcomes. sentimental  importance to his hero and heroine: Jones, who had hitherto held his lovely burden in his arms, now relinquished his hold; but gave her at the same instant a tender caress, which, had her senses been then perfectly restored, could not have escaped her observation. As she expressed therefore, no displeasure at this freedom, we suppose she was not sufficiently recovered from her swoon at the time. 6  Passages  similar  to  this  do occur in Don Juan,  purports to know more than the characters  at  times  when  the  narrator  and the reader infers more than he  directly tells her, while both narrator and reader retain a humorous affection for the characters, despite the characters' self-deception or blindness:  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 173 I cannot know what Juan thought of this, But what he did, is much what you would do; His young lip thank'd it with a grateful kiss, And then, abash'd at its own joy, withdrew In deep despair, lest he had done amiss, Love is so very timid when 'tis new: She blush'd, and frown'd not, but she strove to speak, And held her tongue, her voice was grown so weak. (I, 112)  But then some passages like the following—which deals, significantly, Juan's  affair  with  Haidee, not  Julia—appear  to  contradict  the  with  ironies of  the  preceding: They fear'd no eyes nor ears on that lone beach, They felt no terrors from the night, they were A l l in all to each other: though their speech Was broken words, they thought a language there,— And all the burning tongues the passions teach Found in one sigh the best interpreter Of nature's oracle—first love,—that all Which Eve has left her daughters since her fall. (II, 189) This is the lyric impulse run wild; the reader in  prose.  A s for  narrator's  analysing the  passage  narratively, she  voice from his empathic enrapture  impossible—at  least,  until  the  couplet.  7  can imagine nothing very like it finds  extricating the  with his characters'  feelings almost  This  stanza,  like  many  visionary poems, creates for the reader the imaginative fulfilment most fervent  wish.  and  invisible  become  McGann always."  His own "broken words" are signs  claims of The  of  Island,  the this  "burning vision  of the  author's  asked to go beyond language  tongues is  Romantic and  "true  the  passions  because  teach."  it may  be  As true,  8  Writers of novels, except perhaps of the perennial popular romance which thrives them  on a  purple  little  passages,  from  the  usually employ narrative  most  emotional  discourse.  strategies The  which  commonest  distance of  these  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 174 strategies  is probably to compose the novel in direct speech—dramatic  between  characters—so  that  the  implied  author  is  absolved  exchanges  from  immediate  responsibility for it and, in fact, many ironies of situation can be manipulated to deny  his  unqualified  generally  stops  short  effectively  by  these  characters  assent.  In  of the  bedroom door, love affairs  dramatic  the  nineteenth-century  exchanges.  The  novel,  where  can be  epistolary  narration  suggested  novel  also  very allows  to pour out their souls at great length, without forcing the novelist to  identify his discourse exactly with theirs. Irony of tone, such as that evident in the  extract  from  Fielding  above,  implied author's  independence.  the  kind  form  of a  Tristram  is  another  Sterne's  of empiricism  great  standby  for  protecting  the  irony is often more subtle and can take  instead  of Fielding's knowing winks. When  is most moved by his uncle Toby's treatment of the  fly, he is still  anatomising in himself the "vibration of most pleasurable sensations."  9  First-person  character narrators, whose perception of events is limited by their involvement in them,  also  depending Multiple  on  the the  as  implied amount  first-person  effectively, Heights,  let  author of  narratives  in that  off  the  vision  or  in  novel  a  epistolary mode  hook—though  limitation  ascribed  preclude  which  to  uses  varying to  this  authoritative  degrees, narrator.  vision  multiple writers.  more  Wuthering  with all its poetic determinism, is significantly given through a network  of narrators, the "outermost," Lockwood, being in some ways the least reliable. But even omniscience can be used as a kind of distancing technique. The novelistic emotions  author,  while  depicting characters  and enthusiasms,  god-like serenity  who  may remain himself  are  often  subject  calm, pretending  and impartiality. George Eliot, with  all her  at  to  strong  least  to a  sympathy for  characters, is apt to ensconce her narrator on higher ground, thus:  her  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 175 Nor can I suppose that when M r s . Casaubon is discovered in a fit of weeping six weeks after her wedding, the situation will be regarded as tragic. Some discouragement, some faintness of heart at the new real future which replaces the imaginary, is not unusual, and we do not expect people to be deeply moved by what is not unusual. 10  Even Dickens, that partial and indignant artist, allows himself outbursts like the following  very  rarely,  and  when  he  does,  effusions, from well above his characters'  they  come, like  Eliot's  more  subtle  heads:  The light is come upon the dark benighted way. Dead! Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, Right Reverends and Wrong Reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with Heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us every day. 11  But in poetry the in  the  exclamatory mode has been well established, at  least,  vatic tradition of hymn, ode, elegy and epic. The vates irritabilis  may  become over-excited by his subject-matter.  Shelley in lyrical frenzy writes thus of  a situation similar to that of Juan and Haidee: The Meteor to its far morass returned: The beating of our veins one interval Made still; and then I felt the blood that burned Within her frame, mingle with mine, and fall Around my heart like fire; and over all A mist was spread, the sickness of a deep And speechless swoon of joy, as might befall Two disunited spirits when they leap In union from this earth's obscure and fading sleep.  However, The Revolt of Islam,  12  if it is ironic at all, is so only in the  broadest  philosophic sense. Its voice, throughout its system of narrators, is one voice; its tone is consistently passionate; no-one would make a case for calling it a novel. Don Juan, taken—or  on  the  other  hand,  mistaken—for a novel,  despite 13  its  stanza,  has  fairly  justifiably  been  and indeed, it is one, at least, most of the  THE time,  by any  definition  that  will  P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 176  include formal  poetic style within  the  genre.  However, there are some sections of the poem which would strain even the most inclusive definition  to breaking point. If a distinction is to be made between the  lyric and the novel, then passages like the single-voiced stanza last quoted from Don Juan  must be better  identified  by the  lyrical—or vatic—definition.  Pushkin,  writing a much less controversially novelistic poem, Eugene Onegin, tends to avoid the vatic stance.  When an oracular voice is introduced in prose, it is often in  14  parody, as with Fielding's " A Short Hint of What We Can Do in the and  a Description  American,  of Miss Sophia Western."  mystical  kind  of  prose,  still  15  Sublime,  Herman Melville, in his different,  puts  his  least  ironical  notes  of  the  sublime into the mouth of a character—Ahab—and in actual dramatic form; they are not direct messages from the implied author:  The cabin; by the stern windows; Ahab sitting alone, and gazing out. I leave a white and turbid wake; pale waters, paler cheeks, where'er I sail. The envious billows sidelong swell to whelm my track; let them; but first I pass. 16  Significantly, metrical  as  Ahab's words are  it becomes more  in iambics. Just  emotional, so  the  as  prose becomes  poetic line  encourages  a  emotional tone than prose. This is because, as discussed in earlier chapters,  more more the  demand for stress cuts down the grammatical superfluities of the sentence, paring it to the blatant bone; and because the insistent "beat, upbeat, pause" pattern of expectation creates  a discipline of its own, outside the sentence's  meaning, which  will allow the sentence to say, unsentimentally, things that cannot easily be said without  embarrassment  in  instrument,  plays  too  upon  syncopation,  the  strings  prose.  And  Byron,  those  strings  which  of the  human  heart;  playing vibrate  and  then,  possibilities most  directly,  on  his  without  nonchalantly, without  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 177 explanation, he returns  to the  ironic harmonies  brain's  heart,  leaving the  distrust  of the  of discord which appeal to  hearts  of such  readers  as  the  William  Hazlitt feeling betrayed and travestied. If the poem contained no stanzas like the following,  perhaps  Hazlitt would have approved of Don Juan  more, but  perhaps  again he would not have responded to it at all: Oh Hesperus! thou bringest all good things— Home to the weary, to the hungry cheer, To the young bird the parent's brooding wings, The welcome stall to the o'erlabour'd steer; Whate'er of peace about our hearthstone clings, Whate'er our household gods protect of dear, Are gather'd round us by thy look of rest; Thou bring'st the child, too, to the mother's breast. (Ill, 107)  This "true voice of feeling"  17  must have touched a chord in Tennyson, for  he echoes it in more melancholy tones in In Memoriam: Sad Hesper o'er the buried sun And ready, thou, to die with him, Thou watchest all things ever dim And dimmer, and a glory done: The team is loosen'd from the wain, The boat is drawn upon the shore; Thou listenest to the closing door, And life is darkened in the brain. 18  But a  reader  may wonder how Tennyson's  stomach would have turned  at  the  juxtaposition of the following two stanzas, which grotesquely parody "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and the Book of Genesis:  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 178 About this time a beautiful white bird, Web-footed, not unlike a dove in size And plumage, (probably it might have err'd Upon its course) pass'd oft before their eyes, And tried to perch, although it saw and heard The men within the boat, and in this guise It came and went, and flutter'd round them till Night fell:—this seem'd a better omen still. But in this case I also must remark, 'Twas well this bird of promise did not perch, Because the tackle of our shatter'd bark Was not so safe for roosting as a church; And had it been the dove from Noah's ark, Returning there from her successful search, Which in their way that moment chanced to fall, They would have eat her, olive-branch and all. (II, 94-95) This passage smacks distinctly of prose  rather  are all masculine and unremarkable; also, repeated  than  poetry. The  enjambment  forces the  rhymes stanza  into the background (except for the second couplet, which is foregrounded for its "punchline"  effect).  reader's response inherent  And  the  urge  to  explain,  quite consciously rather  mysteriousness,  than  expansively, by means  to  determine  of the  is definitely novelistic. Although the  the  symbol's own  reader  is reminded  of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" here, she finds in fact the spareness of Coleridge's symbolic poetry to be starkly different from the above: A t length did cross an Albatross, Thorough the fog it came; As if it had been a Christian soul, We hailed it in God's name. 19  In similar contrast is the gnomic simplicity of the King James Bible: But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. 20  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 179 If  this  is poetic  prose,  then  Byron's passage  prose that it imitates is of a type reader  is used  to being teased  quite familiar  about  being a  shown that the prosaic truth is rather often  suggests.  prefer  to  an  anachronistic  are  example  to a reader  reader  different  Examples of this tendency  use  is very prosaic poetry,  and  the  of novels. This  of poetry,  and  to being  and less romantic than  poetry  to be found in Fielding,  but I  from  Melville,  because  the  21  Byronic  Platonist is here the parodic victim, and because the parody has such a Byronic flavour:  For nowadays, the whale-fishery furnishes an asylum for many romantic, melancholy, and absent-minded young men, disgusted with the carking care of earth, and seeking sentiment in tar and blubber. Childe Harold not infrequently perches himself upon the mast-head of some luckless disappointed whale-ship, and in moody phrase ejaculates: — 'Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll! Ten thousand blubber-hunters sweep over thee in v a i n . ' What Byron  was  infuriated writing  an  Hazlitt ironic,  and  his  contemporaries,  novelistic poem,  but  that  though, he  22  was  was  not  that  compiling  a  disturbing medley of ironies and sincerities which would not finally precipitate out into the consistency expected by a nineteenth-century  reader of either a Romantic  poem or an ironic novel. The most upsetting section of Don Juan the  Haidee  episode,  for  in it occur the  most  sustained  examples  was probably of the  mode, and, perhaps, the widest discrepancies between styles, between events voice, and between narrator the narrator  subjects  and characters.  the reader  lyric and  Summarizing all the shocks to which  within this long passage is not easy.  Some of  the transitions are into digressions which are largely irrelevant, such as the one triggered by the  simile: "When o'er  the brim the  sparkling bumpers reach" (II,  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 180 178-81), discussed in chapter parallels between be  school'd in  suggesting whom  great  the story and the narrator's a  that  III. Other digressions are  strange  the  Caesar  tongue  experience was  /  the  past experience: "'Tis pleasing to  B y female  of love is suitor"  (II,  more relevant, drawing  a  lips  very  205-07);  and  eyes"  general or  one:  (II,  164);  or  "Oh Love! of  probing into  characters'  motives: "But Juan! had he quite forgotten Julia?" (II, 208). However, the  reader  is not struck most forcibly by relative relevancy or irrelevancy in these  asides.  Even  the  metaleptic  transgression,  hiatus  is  deriving simply  for from  her  muted  change  of  by tone.  a  much The  stronger  "digressive"  vary widely in tone from despairing cynicism to wry elegiac sadness,  sense of passages but all of  them are motivated by a profound scepticism about love which will not, by any effort of wrenching on the part of the reader, monogamous, passages,  romantic  the narrator's  contradict  which  the  to share with his protagonists  strikingly lyrical stanzas, efface  love  every  narrator  appears,  sneer  and  in  the  narrative  at this stage. The narrative charts, in  and with a sympathy sufficiently  personality altogether,  doubt,  tally with the ideal of enduring,  empathic at times to  a love affair so perfectly ideal as to  sophism  of  which  the  narrator's  voice  is  capable. No compromise is reached between the two discourses. Stanzas like the following occur one below the other: The lady watch'd her lover—and that hour Of Love's, and Night's, and Ocean's solitude O'erflow'd her soul with their united power; Amidst the barren sand and rocks so rude She and her wave-worn love had made their bower, Where nought upon their passion could intrude, And all the stars that crowded the blue space Saw nothing happier than her glowing face.  THE  P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 181  Alas! the love of women! it is known To be a lovely and a fearful thing; For all of theirs upon that die is thrown, And if 'tis lost, life hath no more to bring To them but mockeries of the past alone, And their revenge is as the tiger's spring, Deadly, and quick, and crushing; yet as real Torture is theirs, what they inflict they feel. (II, 198-99)  And  the narrator  later  can be much more cynical than this: contradicting himself, he  claims that for woman, though  move; / She  then  additions much  prefers  "One man  him in the  encumber"  (III,  plural  alone  at  number,  3). On occasion, he  first her  heart  can  that  the  / Not finding  will  shift  alarmingly from  elegy to levity within a single stanza:  Alas! they were so young, so beautiful, So lonely, loving, helpless, and the hour Was that in which the heart is always full, And, having o'er itself no further power, Prompts deeds eternity cannot annul, But pays off moments in an endless shower Of hell-fire—all prepared for people giving Pleasure or pain to one another living. (II, 192) My  reader  transgressiveness,  may  not  become,  like  Hazlitt,  enraged  by  this  but she must infallibly be disturbed, because to the end of the  poem she cannot honestly, taking everything into account, formulate What Byron Has  to  Say  About  Love  in Don  Juan;  something is left out or added—except is  tempted  happiness  to accept offered  though it may  the  in this  ironical world  because  will  not  formulate,  unless  as a contradiction. On the one hand, she  view  that  of illusions,  offer itself time after  it  love gives and  time, each  yet  the  highest  illusion of  is impossible to  time with  its same  sustain, deceptive  suggestion of both newness and permanence. A s John Johnson, the man who has had  three  wives,  puts  it,  without  disparaging  the  brightness  of  life's  later  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 182 illusions: ". . . . A l l , when life is new, Commence with feelings warm and prospects high; But time strips our illusions of their hue, And one by one in turn, some grand mistake Casts off its bright skin yearly like the snake. '"Tis true, it gets another bright and fresh, Or fresher, brighter; but the year gone through, This skin must go the way too of all flesh, Or sometimes only wear a week or two . . . ." (V, 21-22)  And  Juan's  further  adventures  in the  poem  seem  continually to  support  this  view, and to ironize the Haidee episode merely by his living on to love again. But, on the other hand, the reader  finds that this episode is simply not  presented as one among a sequence of such affairs. Time stops here, in defiance of change: Moons changing had roll'd on, and changeless found Those their bright rise had lighted to such joys As rarely they beheld throughout their round; And these were not of the vain kind which cloys, For theirs were buoyant spirits, never bound By the mere senses; and that which destroys Most love, possession, unto them appear'd A thing which each endearment more endear'd. (IV, 16) The narrator cannot do anything to make his protagonists move; nothing remains to  narrate  but  iteration.  His  more  and  more  necessity of such perfect lovers' dying young are  frequent really  remarks  about  the  a comment about  this  kind of romance: after the consummation, nothing further is left to say, and the story  must  logically end here.  paradise  scatters  through  Juan  the  into  lovers, the  And although Lambro's satanic fragments  cumulative  the  onward  narrative changes  and which  entry  propels Don  into their it  Juan  forward stories  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 183 conventionally  follow,  for  Haidee  the  tale  does  end  here.  Haidee  is  totally  consistent and absolutely faithful not only to Juan but to her blood, which, like her mother's, at  "partakes the planet's hour" (IV, 56); and, in fact, she belongs not  all to the  novel or the  Don Juan genres,  but to romance  or tragedy.  The  novel (and this Don Juan) is full of fallible, backsliding people, who have ideals and  yet  deceive  circumstance. presence  themselves,  But  Haidee  or  is  are,  like  essentially  Juan, heroic  heroic and  only  by  contradicts  accidents by  her  of  very  every speculation on the infidelity of woman to be found in the poem.  She dies of love magnificently—and by a literary convention not evident elsewhere in the story. Modern critics, such as Mellor  and Thorslev, encourage  readers to regard  the Haidee episode within its context as a good example of Romantic irony. The romance  is presented  with lyricism and  view, ironically negated  by the  enthusiasm  life-affirming  Mellor is at pains to point out that "the with enthusiasm ironist."  23  as  universe,"  ability  of man  or  death  death  is with  story of Juan authentic  which transcends  romantic ironist is as  scepticism. He is as  much  a  romantic  it.  filled as  an  Like the existentialists, he inhabits, as Thorslev explains at length, an  "open  repudiates  he  and yet it is, in the long  the  24  though  he  has  to cope" with i t . overdetermined  or both.  (These  25  more  faith  Defying  than  the  closed systems,  existentialists the  "in  the  Romantic ironist  ending of romance, which must conclude with love  alternatives  are  not mutually exclusive, for love and  are the light and dark sides of the same coin.) A l l this is easy for  the  reader to accept in the long view, but the long view does not adequately detail the  actual  texture  of  a  sentence  or  stanza  as  experienced  during  an  actual  reading of a long work. Much more consistent and less transgressive works than  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 184 Don  Juan  Eugene  fit  the  Onegin  definition  and  of  Wilhelm  Romantic irony  Meister  are  not  quite  subjected  adequately. to  the  Readers  same  emotional jolts that the reader  of Don Juan  mentioned before, the narrator  could conceivably be ironic all the  kind  of of  experiences in the short view. As time, without  being unsympathetic to the story or its protagonists. The fact that Byron is a master of the ironic technique and uses it superbly in this very work makes the non-ironic passages all the more remarkable. Conversely, the non-ironic passages offer  a  disturbing background to  the  ironic  voice,  foregrounding it  sharply by  contrast. Irony of tone requires a little twisting of the truth, or exhibition of bad faith, or slantwise perspective on things; it is, in fact, a dialogic mode in which two or more voices are in dialectical tension with one another: And Julia's voice was lost, except in sighs, Until too late for useful conversation; The tears were gushing from her gentle eyes, I wish, indeed, they had not had occasion, But who, alas! can love, and then be wise? Not that remorse did not oppose temptation, A little still she strove, and much repented, And whispering "I will ne'er consent"—consented. (I, 117) In  this stanza,  narrator's witty  the dialectics of Julia's conscience and Julia's desires,  the  moralism and his humanism, create a complex network into which the  clinching  of the  couplet  falls  not  complicated, knowing smile. The reader Julia  and  throughout  this  first  erotic  as  a  bawdy  guffaw  so  much  as  sympathises deeply with both Juan  episode,  but  when  it  comes  comically—to an end, she does not feel Juan's voyage into further  a and  forcibly—and adventures  to  be a betrayal of her loyalties, whatever it may be of Julia's. Even the tragic tone of Julia's final letter from  the nunnery is undermined by the fact that it  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 185 "was  written  upon gilt-edged  paper / With  a  neat little crow-quill,  slight  and  new" (I, 198). This is Romantic irony without pain, because the reader has been prepared,  by  ironies  of tone throughout  the  episode,  for  the  ironies  of event  which end it. Passages which exhibit no irony of tone are spoken by a single voice in absolute their  seriousness  very  passage,  nature,  absolute  assent.  having tried it carefully  trust betrayed  demand  The  reciprocally from the reader, by  reader  who  gives  for ironic traps, were  she  assent later  to to  such find  for  feeling  may elicit from her  indignant.  at  times  Although the  a sympathy  curtail with ease, a great deal of the pleasure  more  a her  by ironies not potentially present in this passage, would have  certain justification sections  and sincerity; they  a  dialogic or ironic  or assent which she  cannot  of such sections is her sense of  "having been had." She, like Juan or Julia, is being seduced by a situation into too  strong  affections.  a  commitment,  However, the  when  the  narrator  monological passages are  is,  in  fact,  playing with  not set-ups for the  reader in  this way, and for these, too, she must be alert. Only ironies of situation assail Haidee's place in the poem; Aurora Raby, the English beauty significance is not established  because of the  poem's  her  whose  finally final  premature end, is probably  intended for a similar fate: Early in years, and yet more infantine In figure, she had something of sublime In eyes which sadly shone, as seraphs' shine. A l l youth—but with an aspect beyond time; Radiant and grave—as pitying man's decline; Mournful—but mournful of another's crime, She look'd as if she sat by Eden's door, And grieved for those who could return no more. ( X V , 45)  Despite the revisions, alternatives  and repetitions  in this stanza,  it exhibits none  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 186 of  that  playful  narrator  is  experimentalism  determining  and  evident  elsewhere  overdetermining  an  through  these  image;  effects.  even  the  The  "as  if  constructions are the attempts of a speaker to catch up with an absolutely clear, absolutely  authoritative  vision.  These  repeated  repetitions  of incantation to wrap the  attempts  speaker  serve  almost  as  the  more and more closely into his  speech and into intimacy with the thing invoked by the  speech. The reader  is  co-opted into assent so strong as to approach identification with him; dialectic is out of the question. One might contrast this stanza to the following another  winsome  woman  attractive  to  Juan,  in order  to  hear  on Dudu,  the  difference  between the single voice and the more syncopated ironic voice:  She was not violently lively, but Stole on your spirit like a May-day breaking; Her eyes were not too sparkling, yet, half-shut, They put beholders in a tender taking; She look'd (this simile's quite new) just cut From marble, like Pygmalion's statue waking, The Mortal and the Marble still at strife, And timidly expanding into life. (VI, 43) An  awareness  of  others'  (and  the  narrator's)  preference  for  liveliness  and  sparkling eyes, and a metalingual consciousness of his own role as entertainer of a  reader  whose  sympathies  stanza with the narrator's  and  tastes  can be  "toyed with,"  contend  in  this  sympathetic representation of his subject. Out of this  slight contention comes the stanza's irony and the precise individual shade of its irony. Both their  Mellor  touchstone  and Thorslev agree that Romantic irony—and Don Juan case—fits  into  "unstable, overt, infinite" irony. taking  the  whole poem into  26  Wayne  Booth's  system  of  classification  as as  They are looking, of course, at the long view,  account,  and  they  do not detail the  varieties of  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 187 stable, covert or finite ironies and their non-ironic counterparts in the first:  work. The most important parameter the  stable-unstable  that occur locally  in Booth's tripartite  system is the  dichotomy. Booth himself is decidedly wary of  unstable  ironies, especially when they are infinite in scope, because their meaning remains unfixed and unfixable; it is impossible for the  reader to assign value finally  to  any proposition within an unstable-ironic work:  The author—insofar as we can discover him, and he is often very remote indeed—refuses to declare himself for any stable proposition, even the opposite of whatever proposition his irony vigorously denies. The only sure affirmation is that negation that begins all ironic play: "this affirmation must be rejected," leaving the possibility, and in infinite ironies, the clear implication, that since the universe (or at least the universe of discourse) is inherently absurd, all statements are subject to ironic undermining. No statement can really "mean what it says." 27  Booth  does  not  directly  concern  himself with  Romantic  irony  and  uses  only  modern examples of unstable irony. Although he declares that the open universe must be portrayed the  implications of an  irony, made  by means of unstable  he  overlooks the  open force  universe. and  irony, he does not sufficiently  Concentrating on  enthusiasm  in this chaotic universe—even when they  be ironized or negated. Kierkegaard,  who regard  Booth seems to fall irony as  the  negative  pursue  aspect of  with  which  can  be  are,  simultaneously or later,  to  here into the  "infinite absolute  affirmations  camp  negativity,"  28  of Hegel and in contrast  to  that of Friedrich Schlegel, the main proponent of Romantic irony, who sees irony as containing both positive and negative  propositions equally, without necessarily  valorizing the negative over the positive. Schlegel's "absolute synthesis of absolute antithesis,  the  continual  makes enthusiastic  self-creating  interchange  affirmations and subsequently  of two  conflicting  thoughts,"  29  contradicts them in order not to  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 188 be  trapped  agility"  by  them  into  determinism.  Romantic  irony  requires  an  "eternal  in order to remain balanced and conscious of contradictory alternatives.  30  D. C. Muecke, in his book The Compass of Irony, unlike Booth in A Rhetoric of Irony, takes cognizance of this binary, paradoxical possibility, and he claims that Romantic irony "does not take sides but regards both sides critically."  31  The great problem with Romantic irony is the one pinpointed by Hegel in his brief critique of Schlegel in The History of Philosophy: it requires an infinite ability to play. He writes: It can make a pretence of knowing all things, but it only demonstrates vanity, hypocrisy, and effrontery. Irony knows itself to be master of every possible context; it is serious about nothing, but plays with all forms. 32  Hegel conceives play and seriousness to be mutually exclusive, and valorizes what he sees as the responsible, adult alternative. This position can be attacked several  angles.  Sartre  "Man  is serious  would  establish  would  when play  he  as  claim  takes  seriousness  himself  primary  to,  for  and  an  of  man  a human being when he plays." is  temporarily  resistant or  to  play:  permanently,  to  be  the  object";  inclusive of,  plays when he is in the fullest sense of the only fully  to  34  undesirable Schiller,  33  element:  and  seriousness:  from  others,  "man  only  word a human being, and he is However, something in the  weariness  and  participate  in  despair the  can  game.  make  The  him  reader  have to be as disparaging of play as Hegel is to see that "eternal  nature refuse,  does  not  agility" is  not easy for finite man, to whom the life-drive is often and finally overshadowed by a death-wish.  35  Sir Walter Ralegh, in whose writings the immanence of death  is a haunting reality, points the paradox more clearly and more poignantly:  T H E P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 189 Thus march we playing to our latest r e s t Only we die in earnest, that's no jest. 36  Even with a work like Don Juan, to possess in the  an infinite  agility, a reader,  in which the narrator  like Hazlitt, can easily flag behind him  face of death or love and cry "Enough!" Desire for an end to all this  play can coexist with the best of motives; it can derive from the  seems at times  game  requires  a kind  of heartlessness  on the  part  a knowledge that  of the  players and  suspicion that heartlessness in the face of death is in fact what the  a  life-affirming  impulse amounts to. To fall from the Schlegelian interpretation of irony into the Hegelian one is all too easy: the more  difficult  affirmation fiend.  to  sustain  than  paradox of affirmation and negation is much the  valorizing  of  negation  which  sees  the  as a kind of hoax, a set-up to be shot down by a cynically smiling  The reason why the Julia episode is easier to stomach than the Haidee  affair is that it is more "ironic" than "Romantic"; its relative lack of affirmation and the more consistent irony of tone in its narration valorize the negative side all along. The earlier passage is Romantic irony without pain perhaps because it is not as good an example of Romantic irony as the later one. This critique of Romantic irony per se is not irrelevant to a reading of Don Juan.  The search for limits  to, or stabilities within, its irony  reader  synonymous with her quest for comprehension of its  quest  may,  meanings;  of  but  course, this  end  up  essentially  in  acknowledgement  amounts  to  the  same  of  final  the  thing.  is for  the  meanings. The  absence  of  In  ultimate  the  final  ironizing of the Haidee romance, the pain experienced by the reader is part of the narrator's  experience too: he mourns for the lovers in many elegiac asides,  such as that beginning "Alas! they were so young, so beautiful" (II, 192). Thus,  THE at the  outer  P O E T A S T R A N S G R E S S O R / 190  limits of its ironic scale, the poem seems to include a critique of  irony itself. Hazlitt's response  is one of the  responses inscribed within the  text,  although many other responses are also inscribed and this one is not at the top of the hierarchy. The implied reader of Don Juan  transcends  Hazlitt's objections,  even while conscious of them. Don subjects  Juan's  narrator  transgresses  himself  in addition to romantic love. Almost the  obsessively  on  many  other  whole of Cantos VII to I X is'  devoted to the subject of military glory, which, with various meditations on poetic glory and other types of fame, forms a major  theme of the poem. A Vict