Fluctuating Reception: Byron’s ambivalent figurations and images of Germany
Romanticism is intrinsically associated with the exploration of diverse cultures through travel, particularly evident in the Grand Tours of Europe, which contributed to the establishment of transcultural networks. However, not always did the outcomes of such encounters foster a cohesive European spirit. Paradoxically, they often served to confirm or reinforce prejudices or stereotypes concerning foreign nations and their cultures. Of specific interest is the nuanced reception of Germany by British Romantics, revealing ambivalence and skepticism. This article focuses on Lord Byron, aiming to elucidate instances of his wavering between Germanophilia and Germanophobia within his writings. First, it will analyse the poet’s conceptualizations of Germany, which emerge from both his imaginative constructs and direct experiences with the country. Secondly, it will investigate Byron’s complex reception and assessment of German literature, with particular attention to his opinions on the Schlegel brothers and Goethe. Ultimately, the analysis will show how, within Byron’s mental and literary figurations, Germany, encompassing its geography and cultural expressions, unfolds as a multifaceted and elusive entity rather than a distinctly definable construct.
Gioia Angeletti, "Fluctuating Reception: Byron’s ambivalent figurations and images of Germany" in: "2023 / 28 Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere", EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, Trieste, 2023, pp. 81-101