Byron, postmodernism and intertextuality

Jane Stabler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Citations (Scopus)


Something odd happens to the popular Turkish Tale in Byron’s Mazeppa, a poem that is rarely discussed because the accident of its publication in June 1819 meant that it was almost completely overshadowed by the first cantos of Don Juan. Following the verse narratives of The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos and The Siege of Corinth, Mazeppa's octosyllabic couplets, triplets and quatrains sweep its readers along in a pulsating adventure story. In Mazeppa, however, the thrills and spills of another set of fugitive exploits are mockingly undercut by a narrative frame which draws attention to boredom in the audience. King Charles requests the tale but, as we discover at the end of the poem, he falls asleep almost as soon as it commences: And if ye marvel Charles forgot To thank his tale, he wonder’d not, – The king had been an hour asleep. (Mazeppa, 867–69) Romantic egotism (Mazeppa’s pride in being ‘haunted… With the vain shadow of the past’, 229–30) comes up against a more recalcitrant physical domain. King Charles demonstrates what Byron suspected of his own and all writing – that it was a literature of exhaustion.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Byron
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780511999017
ISBN (Print)0521781469, 9780521781466
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


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