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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 avec Sade: Material and Spectral Violence in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Canto IV

Byron avec Sade: Material and Spectral Violence in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Canto IV

(p.131) Chapter Five Byron avec Sade: Material and Spectral Violence in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Canto IV
Byron's Ghosts

Piya Pal-Lapinski

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the way Sade’s obsession with a pure corporeal violence is transformed in Childe Harold IV into a specifically Byronic discourse of violence, in which the material violence of history and spectral violence of the sign converge. In order to theorize such forms of violence, it puts the poem into dialogue with Walter Benjamin’s ‘Critique of Violence’, Derrida’s ‘Violence and Metaphysics’, and Agamben’s work on ‘bare life’ — a form of existence which is at once ‘spectral’ in its dissolution of legal and political existence but ‘material’ in its association with sovereign power and juridical violence. Against this theoretical background, the following questions are raised: How does ‘spectral’ Byronic violence, both encompass and move beyond its Sadean counterpart? How does it distinguish itself from the ferocious distillation of the ‘pure’ materiality of violence in Sade? The chapter concludes by considering architectural spaces in the Palazzo Ducale — as the symbolic centre of material and spectral violence in the poem — and the way that these spaces conflate the violence of war, politics and torture.

Keywords:   Sade, corporeal violence, Byronic violence, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, architectural spaces, Palazzo Ducale

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