Csengei, Ildiko (2017) “The Fever of Vain Longing:” Emotions of War in Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto III. Romanticism. ISSN 1354-991X (Submitted)

This essay deals with Byron’s visit to the field of Waterloo as described in Childe Harold’s
Pilgrimage, Canto III. I will argue that the Canto sees the transformation of the Byronic hero
into the man of feeling. Byron re-configures this eighteenth-century character type in a way
that his personal grief becomes inseparable from collective feeling and national concerns.
The deployment of the man of feeling becomes for Byron a political statement: an aid for the
articulation of his disappointment in post-Waterloo European politics and a longing for lost
Revolutionary ideals. Through the analysis of the Canto’s main organising tropes I will be
arguing that Byron’s ambivalent perspective on the outcome of Waterloo is the reason for the
restless oscillation of conflicting forces in the poem. The essay will re-read Stanza 33’s
broken mirror simile in the context of eighteenth-century notions of sensibility and sympathy.

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