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Byron's GhostsThe Spectral, the Spiritual and the Supernatural$
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Gavin Hopps

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846319709

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846319709.001.0001

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Byron and the Noonday Demons

Byron and the Noonday Demons

(p.83) Chapter Three Byron and the Noonday Demons
Byron's Ghosts

Mary Hurst

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores the theological undercurrents in Byron’s verse, focusing on the subject of infernal ghosts and the condition of melancholic boredom traditionally known as acedia. It argues that, while we have come to see the dull violence of ennui as a wholly secular psychological state, it is in fact a silhouette of the Greek and Scholastic theological notion of acedia, which has been loosely translated from the term that describes a spiritual condition of the Desert Fathers, understood as ‘the noonday Demon’. A new reading of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, shows that the spiritual origins of acedia provide a vocabulary that foreshadows aspects of Byron and his poetry, which secular terms such as melancholy and ennui do not. Thus, an analysis of Byron’s descriptions of boredom and ennui, cannot get very far without the spiritual vocabulary of demons.

Keywords:   poetry, infernal ghosts, melancholic boredom, acedia, ennui, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

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