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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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‘’Twixt Life and Death’: Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Don Juan and the Sublime

‘’Twixt Life and Death’: Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Don Juan and the Sublime

(p.147) Chapter Six ‘’Twixt Life and Death’: Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Don Juan and the Sublime
Byron's Ghosts

Philip Shaw

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines Romantic discourses on the sublime, in light of Ži žek’s neo-Lacanian account, according to which, the truth revealed by the sublime is nothing less than the ultimate nullity of being. Beginning with their origins in the sceptical tradition, it tests the relevance of such nihilistic interpretations for Byron’s poetry, deftly interweaving philosophical exposition with close readings of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and Don Juan. It argues that although Byron appears to shareŽi žek’s suspicion of the transcendental aspirations of the sublime, his particular critique is directed not against transcendentalism per se but rather against the ambitions of the sublime to take the place of religion.

Keywords:   Slavoj Ži žek, Byron, poetry, transcendentalism

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