Byron's homage to Rousseau : Childe Harold's pilgrimage, Canto III, and La Nouvelle Heloise

Alcock, Mary Ellen (1989) Byron's homage to Rousseau : Childe Harold's pilgrimage, Canto III, and La Nouvelle Heloise. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Little detailed study has been made of the similarity in thought between Byron and Rousseau. At first glance, the men and their works ostensibly appear too different to warrant investigation. Analysis of the third Canto of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and La Nouvelle Héloïse, however, suggests that Byron and Rousseau had very similar views of nature, society and the individual. Furthermore, Byron was intensely aware of Rousseau while composing the third Canto of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. -- Throughout his life, Byron vehemently denied any resemblance between himself and Rousseau. La Nouvelle Héloïse and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto III, however, reveal that their authors viewed nature as beneficent, society as corrupt and imagination as a liberating force for the individual. During the summer of 1816 when Byron completed Canto III, he was drawn into an imaginative communion with Rousseau. Visiting Rousseau's Swiss homeland, Byron deepened his appreciation of the eighteenth-century Genevan. Like Rousseau, Byron was profoundly affected by the natural beauty of the Alpine landscape. Reading La Nouvelle Héloïse and using it as a guide book for his boat tour with Shelley of Lake Geneva, Byron was imaginatively stimulated into a Rousseauistic reverie. Seeing first-hand the places vividly depicted in La Nouvelle Héloïse, Byron was frequently led into reflection on Rousseau's fictional characters and often related their experiences to his own. -- In this thesis, I examine Childe Harold, Canto III, with emphasis on the biographical facts of Byron's Swiss experience in 1816. I discuss the similarities between Canto III and Rousseau's novel and conclude that Byron's intense awareness of Rousseau's ideas helped significantly in shaping the poetry of Canto III. Byron's viewpoint while in Switzerland and the ideas expressed in Canto III prove that his Swiss experience amounted to an imaginative journey into the world of Rousseau's novel.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5441
Item ID: 5441
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 120-126.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1989
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Byron, George Gordon Byron, Baron, 1788-1824; Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 1712-1778

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