Byron and the Origins of Ottava Rima

Dr Michael J Sullivan (University of Oxford)

1 December 2022

5.30-6.30 GMT


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In this lecture, Dr Michael J Sullivan will explore the genesis of Byron’s most celebrated verse form: the ottava rima of Don Juan and Beppo. Tracing the form’s origins in Byron’s notebooks and early works, the talk will uncover how Byron’s ottava rima emerges from a sustained series of manuscript experiments that predate his arrival in Italy. By viewing ottava rima not as a striking of inspiration but as an extension of his previous artistry, the talk opens up an alternative history of Byron’s manuscript experiments: one that alters our views of the Whistlecraft-inspired ottava rima and sheds new light on Anglo-Italianate rhyme schemes in Romantic verse.

Dr Michael J Sullivan is Lecturer in English Literature at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, and General Editor of The Complete Works of Alfred Tennyson for Oxford University Press.