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Title: Romantic orientalism : a study on the representation of the Orient in selected poetry of Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley
Authors: Debono, Stephanie
Keywords: Orient -- In literature
English poetry -- Oriental influences
English poetry -- 19th century
Byron, George Gordon Byron, Baron, 1788-1824 -- Criticism and interpretation
Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 1792-1822 -- Criticism and interpretation
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: The first chapter consists of an introduction to the notion of Orientalism within the context of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and a discussion of the social and political context within which Orientalism rose to popularity in Europe during this time; particularly in Britain. This chapter also lists the claims which Edward Said; one of the most popular Orientalists of the twentieth century, makes regarding the portrayal of the East by Western writers. Among these claims, Said states that Western writers are prejudiced against the East and Islam, and think of these as an inferior other. The second chapter focuses on Lord Byron’s literary representation of the East, through an analysis of some of his most popular Oriental poems; Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, and The Corsair. This chapter analyses the extent to which Byron’s travels in the East while on the Grand Tour had an effect on his poetry, and also shows how various elements of the East, including; religion, tradition, superstition, clothing, sexuality, imagery and politics, are portrayed by Byron in his poetry in considerable detail. This chapter also shows how Byron defends the East in his poetry; particularly Greece, and the Islamic faith. Therefore, this chapter shows how Edward Said’s claims are not relevant to Byron’s poetry. In the third chapter, the focus shifts to Percy B. Shelley’s literary representation of the East. This chapter highlights Shelley’s love for Greek mythology (despite never having travelled to Greece) as it comes out in his poem, The Witch of Atlas. This chapter also shows how Shelley’s Orientalism is different from that of his contemporaries, through an analysis of Alastor, or The Spirit of Solitude, The Revolt of Islam, and Hellas. Shelley’s philhellenism, as well as his ideals of peace, and anti-imperialist values, are discussed and explored in light of the aforementioned poems. The chapter concludes with an explanation of how Shelley’s Orientalism is an inexplicit, unspoken Orientalism, and therefore different from that of his contemporaries. The final and concluding chapter shows how both Byron and Shelley’s poetry goes against Edward Said’s claims. This chapter shows that in these poets’ work there are no false claims about the East, no uninformed prejudices and no Islamophobia. The final chapter also reassesses the points discussed throughout the previous chapters, and concludes that both Byron and Shelley’s Orientalism suggests that the poets’ main aim is to show that the British Empire is just as oppressive as the Ottoman Empire, and that, for them, Greece obtaining its independence is better than Britain obtaining more land to colonise. The concluding chapter brings out the main idea of this dissertation; that in Byron and Shelley’s representation of the East, the Orient comes out as an individual and alternative culture, and not as a political enemy.
Description: B.A.(HONS)ENGLISH
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2017
Dissertations - FacArtEng - 2017

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