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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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The Haunting of Don Juan

The Haunting of Don Juan

Chapter:
(p.184) Chapter Eight The Haunting of Don Juan
Source:
Byron's Ghosts
Author(s):

Peter W. Graham

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781846319709.003.0009

This chapter offers an alternative reading of the English Cantos’ erotic spectral escapades and identifies a number of other ways in which the poem is haunted. These include the protagonist’s status as an intertextual revenant; the poet’s unstable blending of memory and imagination; the poem’s depictions of ‘the spirit-flesh amalgam that for [Byron] constitutes humanity’; and the semi-personified Platonic presences, such as Love and Philosophy, that appear throughout the poem. The chapter also presents a close reading of the Black Friar narrative. It argues that the ghost story of Canto XVI is ‘a narratological hybrid’, which draws upon the conventions of the Gothic supernatural tale but also upon the civilized comedy of manners, and in this way scrambles the signals that, unmixed, would indicate how readers should appraise the details. Contrasting Byron’s narrative with Jane Austen’s parodic blending of conventions in Northanger Abbey, the chapter draws an epistemological moral from the tale of the Black Friar, which encourages the reader to discard rigid preconceptions and to cultivate an open-minded, self-doubting attitude that’s receptive to all possibilities yet also sceptical about them.

Keywords:   English Cantos, poetry, Byron, Black Friar, ghost story, Jane Austen

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