Byron’s Early Italian Interest

  • Peter Vassallo


Byron was able to read Italian long before he set foot in Italy. By the time he was eighteen he had dipped into Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso and had some knowledge of Dante’s Inferno and felt confident enough to display his little learning in a humorous letter to John Pigot expressing his gratitude for his ‘kind connivance’ at rescuing him from ‘Mrs Byron Furiosa’ in one of her tantrums:

Oh! for the pen of Ariosto to rehearse in Epic the scolding of that momentous Eve or rather let me invoke the Shade of Dante to inspire me, for none but the author of the ‘Inferno’ could properly preside over such an attempt.1


Italian Author Italian Literary Moral Ambivalence Young Poet Tragic Drama 
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Notes and References

  1. 10.
    Charles Du Bos, Byron and the Need of Fatality trans. Ethel Colburn Mayne (1932) p. 146.Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    Leslie Marchand, Byron: A Biography, I (1957) p. 426.Google Scholar
  3. 15.
    Edward Gibbon, Miscellaneous Works III (London, 1796) p. 470.Google Scholar
  4. 16.
    Novella xLly in Novelle di Mateo Bandello ed. G. Ferrero (Turin, 1974).Google Scholar
  5. 26.
    Cf. Marmion stanzas xx-xxii, in The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott ed. J. Logie Robertson (Oxford University Press, 1951) pp. 109–11.Google Scholar
  6. 27.
    Giovanni Boccaccio: Il Decameron ed. A. Momigliano and E. Sanguineti, Giornata iv, Novella I (Turin, 1959) p. 147.Google Scholar
  7. 30.
    For a suggestive account of Shelley’s influence on Byron in Switzerland see John Buxton, Byron and Shelley: The History of a Friendship (1968).Google Scholar
  8. See also Charles Robinson, Shelley and Byron: the snake and the eagle wreathed in fight (1977).Google Scholar
  9. 31.
    Translated by Thomas Moore in The Works of Lord Byron Iv (1835) pp. 322–3.Google Scholar
  10. 32.
    For a full account of the sources of Manfred see Samuel Chew, The Dramas of Lord Byron: A Critical Study (1915)pp. 60–6.Google Scholar
  11. 36.
    Vincenzo Monti, A Don Sigismondo Chigi, 194, Opere di Vincenzo Monti, ed. M. Valmigli and C. Muscetta (1953).Google Scholar
  12. 37.
    In her letter to Vincenzo Monti she refers to his ‘poésies qui soutiennent encore l’honneur de la littérature moderne en Italie’. Lettere inedite del Foscolo, del Giordani e della Signora de Mail a Vincenzo Monti eds G. and A. Monti (1876) p. 249.Google Scholar
  13. 45.
    Historical View of the Literature of the South of Europe by Simonde de Sismondi ed. Thomas Roscoe, vol. I (London, 1850) p. 459.Google Scholar
  14. 49.
    E. R. Vincent, Foscolo’s ‘Dei Sepolcri’ The Commemoration of the Dead — an inaugural lecture (1936) p. 48.Google Scholar

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© Peter Vassallo 1984

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  • Peter Vassallo

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