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Extra resources for Italy and English Literature 1764–1930

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In his youth Shelley had composed two nugatory Gothic romances, Zastroai (1810), which took the cloak and dagger image of Venice from Charlotte Dacre's Zojloya, or The Moor (1806), and St /rvyne (181 I ). I n The Cenci he combines the trappings of the Gothic novel, particularly in the evocation of the Castle of Petrella, with his observation of I tali an life and his deep psychological insight, to produce a more exciting Italian atmosphere than any of the novelists had managed to achieve in prose.

LV. q8) But Byron goes more deeply into the problem. Wordsworth's 'self- 34 Italy and English Literature 1764-1930 sufficing power of solitude'lO is a very selective kind of solitude, that of the man - indeed, perhaps, of the Englishman - voluntarily alone with Nature. He does not concern himself with the other kind of solitude, the involuntary feeling ofloneliness of one man in the midst of others, which was to be so important a feature of the growth of urban society. Byron, however, does know the feeling when solitude is not a blessing but an affliction, when he is alone ..

The orphan of the heartthe Romantic, finding himself alone in a world where there are no values left to rely on - will feel at home in a city where he has constant reminders of such sadness. Byron has here created the most powerful modern literary image of Rome, more immediately accessible and strikingly vivid than that of Gibbon, from which it partly derives, and completely different from that of the Grand Tour. Before going to Italy, Byron had already worked out the character of the suffering Romantic hero, in the magnificently narrated early tales, with very Faustian overtones in Manfred, and in the earlier Cantos of Childe Harold.

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