Byron’s Bear and Other Animals
By Anna Camilleri
22nd April, 2021
ONLINE LECTURE, 5.30-6.30pm (GMT)
This is a FREE EVENT but BOOKING IS REQUIRED.
Get your tickets on Eventbrite, here.
Closer to the event, we will send a Zoom link for you to access the live talk and participate in the Q&A.
There are limited places for this event, so please book soon.
The pages of Byron’s letters and journals teem with animal life, as does his poetry. Living up to the poet’s claim in Don Juan that ‘truth is always strange; / Stranger than fiction’, this talk will reveal how Byron’s treatment of animals — both actual and imagined — offer the most intriguing collusion of fantasy and reality.
From the bear he kept in his rooms at Trinity, to the Newfoundland dog that kept watchful guard over his remains throughout their voyage back to England, Byron’s animal companions are nearly as famous as the poet’s female consorts. Among the more usual dogs, cats, and horses, Byron kept at various times parrots, monkeys, peacocks, guinea hens, an eagle, a crow, a falcon, and an Egyptian crane. Yet while Romantic depictions of animal life are more usually concerned with imaginative rather than emotional transport, with birds in particular become the winged vehicles of poetic fancy for Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley, Byron’s animals are intimately connected with the somatic rather than the cerebral. Specifically, they become a means through which he conjures the physicality of the Byronic Hero. From the ‘jet black barb’ that signifies the Byronic hero of The Giaour, to the horse Mazeppa is strapped to, animal life in Byron is integral to the creation of ‘a being more intense’.
Online Zoom talk.
22nd April, 2021