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Picture of Byron and the Sea-Green Isle

Byron and the Sea-Green Isle

Author(s): Nicholas Gayle

Book Description

This study of Byron’s last complete long poem, the comparatively neglected The Island, is the first to devote a whole book to the examination, contextualization and motivation of both the poetry and its poet. It is much more than just a monograph, however; aside from biographical considerations, it illumines aspects of study that embrace feminism, racial politics and social considerations in relation to Polynesian island society, all of which are contrasted with the loose anarchy of an eighteenth century group of British mutineers. Two historical contexts – the infamous 1789 mutiny on the Bounty and Byron’s life in the year that led up to the poem’s composition – serve as an extended prelude to a deep analysis of the major symbols and characters in the poem, while its main chapters range beyond The Island, conducting a literary conversation with Shakespeare, Pope, 18th-century writers of memoirs and nautical sea history, classical authors and even Chinese poets, as well as other Romantic poets. Consideration is given to aspects of racial and feminist theory in relation to the poem’s extraordinary central female character; in particular there is a focus on her promotion of the poem’s happy ending, one that is quite unique in Byron’s oeuvre. The Appendix contains the first-ever published transcript of the holograph of the poem, allowing readers to appreciate Byron’s idiosyncratic and expressive punctuation—as well as his first thoughts before editing.


ISBN-13: 978-1-5275-1118-7
ISBN-10: 1-5275-1118-9
Date of Publication: 01/08/2018
Pages / Size: 340 / A5
Price: £64.99


Nicholas Gayle was the Head of Classics at Exmouth Community College before becoming seduced by the poetry of Lord Byron and changing direction in life. He is the author of Byron and the Best of Poets (2016), the only full study of Byron’s engagement with the work and thought of Alexander Pope, described by Pat Rogers as likely to be “the standard treatment of the topic for a long time to come”, as well as four essays published in The Byron Journal in recent years. He is a contributor to the Oxford Handbook of Lord Byron.