Byron: The Italian Literary Influence by Peter Vassallo

By Peter Vassallo

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Whistlecraft, it is true, had come as a revelation, and Byron had admired Frere's skill in assimilating the ottava rima to the vernacular. But in Beppo, undoubtedly a 'breakaway from his literary past', Byron was greatly indebted to Casti for the technique of his new satirical style. Before proceeding to examine the exten t of the influence of the Novelle Galanti on Byron's Beppo, 1 should like to consider the wider perspective of Byron's literary development in relation to his search for a form which would best express his complex poetic self.

76-8) The general drift of Perticari's argument, as we have seen, was to present Dante as the victim of petty malice and as a patriot more sinned against than sinning. ' Stern are all thy dealings, but in this they pass The limits of man's common malice, for All that a citrizen could be I was. (141-4) The Prophecy of Dante is also Byron's attempt to appeal directly to the nationalistic sentiments of the Italians through the medium of poetry at a time when Byron himself had become increasingly involved in the Carbonari movement.

He indeed went so far as to project himselfinto his persona and contrary to historical fact attributed to the Italian poet the wretchedness of an unhappy marriage. 22 Quite apart from using Dante and Tasso as vehicles for his Romantic ventriloquism, Byron had another, perhaps more important reason for choosing to write a poem about Dante. Dante, in the eyes of most Italians at the time, was a symbol of the indomitable spirit of Italy which survived the oppression offoreign powers. To Alfieri, for instance, Dante was a patriarchal figure and a seer ('vate nostro') who penetrated far into the mystery of existence.

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