THERE IS NO SOLACE IN BEAUTY FOR THE EPONYMOUS HERO OF BYRON'S Lara. A cloudless night only recalls one "more cloudless"; the pure moonlight, moons of still "purer blaze"; softness, more softness; and hearts, those of the past. All this beauty ends in mockery. And it seems that Byron is about to tell us why. But just as Lara arrives at the narrative present, with "now," its flow breaks, and the view before Lara dissolves into recollection:
Such scene reminded him of other days, Of skies more cloudless, moons of purer blaze, Of nights more soft and frequent, hearts thatnow-- No--no--the storm may beat upon his brow, Unfelt--unsparing--but a night like this, A night of beauty mock'd such breast as his. (1)
In this moment, as in so many others in Byron's recalcitrant poem, Lara comes close to explaining itself. Its narrative "now" arrives only to be interrupted by a breathless "No--no--." Instead of filling in blanks, Byron adds more, dashes holding words apart. Night mocks Lara; "no--no--" mocks the hearts' "now." Language itself fragments, presence falters: now--no--no--.
From beginning to end, Lara stutters, both at the level of narrative and that of enunciation--starts, stops, starts again--breaks off just where it seems to be getting somewhere. For many critics, the poem simply fails. To Robert Gleckner, it is a "dead weight" upon the best of Byron's poetry. (2) And even such a defender of the poem as Nigel Leask notes that "it is not uncommon for critics to read Lara as merely a residue of themes worked- and exhausted--in the earlier Tales." But, Leask continues, Byron offers more than just repetitions in Lara: "there is something new and unfamiliar, even Unheimlich" in it. (3) The poem is a tale of homecoming, of memory, misrecognition, and substitution. It is organized around repetition, and not only at the level of plot. In its language, Lara stutters and stammers, breaks and jumps, in difficult and purposeful ways.
In the view of other critics, though, Lara has seen a revival. In accounts of Byron's Orientalism, the breaks and gaps have come to mean something. Critics such as Daniel Watkins, Filiz Turhan, and Mohammed Sharafuddin have argued that the mysteries and illegibilities of Lara play a central role in the poem's claims, including its critique of feudal orders and cultural forms. That the time and place of the poem as well as its action "are shrouded in mystery," Watkins writes, "is disturbing because it reflects the extent to which social processes have become mystified, not because it offers a world devoid of historical content." (4) For Turhan, "The thematization of interpretation and its impossibility within each of these tales strongly emphasizes the dangerous power inherent within the 'escape from the harem' motif." (5)
Taking a different approach, Sharafuddin argues that Byron's travels help constitute a "realistic Orientalism," unlike Thomas Moore's and Robert Southey's, that shows a "desire to dispel misinformation and prejudice" about Islam and the East. (6) Moore, by contrast, was content to accept praise for his lack of real-world experience. In the preface to his 1817 Oriental tale Lalla Rookh, he writes: "I have not forgotten how great was my pleasure, when told by the late Sir James Macintosh, that he was once asked ... [by a] historian of British India, 'whether it was true that Moore had never been in the East?' 'Never,' answered Macintosh. 'Well that shows me ... that reading over D'Herbelot is as good as riding on the back of a camel.'" (7) For Byron, however, realism matters.
Yet Byron's attitude toward the Orientalist content of his tales was ambivalent. When in 1813 the Morning Post erroneously suggested that he was the author of Illusion, or the Trances of Nourjahad, a new Oriental melodrama opening at the Drury Lane theater, Byron accepted the mistake as good publicity. To the publisher of his own Eastern tales, Byron wrote, "The Orientalism--which I hear is very splendid of the Melodrame (whos ever it is & I am sure I don't know) is as good as an Advertisement for your Eastern stories--by filling their heads with glitter." (8) The ambiguity, perhaps even duplicity, of the term glitter perfectly captures what Byron loved about the genre of the Oriental tale, and identifies where in it he found a critical strain. As a genre, the Oriental tale reflected and mystified the world in the same measure.
Indeed, in all of its theatrical misdirection--its glitter--Lara is one of the most generically self-reflexive of Byron's poems. As Jerome Christensen has argued, Lara at once deploys the literary formulae of Orientalism and signals Byron's own sense of its exhaustion. (9) One of the last of Byron's Oriental tales, Lara may be a critique of the genre or a superannuated expression of it, depending on how one reads it. Here is what Byron has to say about his eponymous hero near the story's beginning, and, by extension, Lara, the poem. In this scene, Lara the character has collapsed in a "trance" (1.122). Presumed dead, he suddenly speaks:
They raise him--bear him;--hush! he breathes, he speaks, The swarthy blush recolours in his cheeks, His lip resumes its red, his eye, though dim, Rolls wide and wild, each slowly quivering limb Recalls its function, but his words are strung In terms that seem not of his native tongue. (1.225-29)
Not dead--neither the character nor the genre--yet, in the manner of the Gothic, not quite alive. The tropes that Lara deploys are familiar to us not just from Orientalism, but from the Gothic, too. This "generic ambiguity," writes Andrew Warren, positions Lara to operate in the mode of a "subtle critique of [Byron's] earlier Orientalizing and British Orientalism more generally." (10)
The problem of genre in general and the Orientalist genres in particular animate Lara. While William Beckford, in his late eighteenth-century Oriental tales such as Vathek, made a point of referring to Orientalist authorities, Byron made a game of citing Beckford and the others. Indeed, in light of his interest in these earlier works, it seems that Byron's project was not so much to show that "the public are orientalizing" but that it is orientalizing still, that the fashion of Orientalism was not over but that it had attained a kind of artifactual status itself. (11) Between 1813 and 1816, Byron published a series of popular Oriental tales in verse including The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, The Corsair, Lara, and The Siege of Corinth. (12) The public received these works eagerly. The Giaour's early editions sold briskly and The Corsair famously sold 10,000 copies on the day of publication. (13) The Giaour, as Byron acknowledges, draws on Vathek for some of its notes, and The Bride of Abydos and The Corsair maintain the descriptive quality of eighteenth-century Orientalist tales. (14) But in Lara, these conventions fall away. Even the title marks this change. In contrast to The Giaour: A Fragment of a Turkish Tale and The Bride of Abydos: A Turkish Tale, the new poem was simply Lara: A Tale. The notes to the earlier tales contain the promise that the mystery or instability of the Orient can be countered by the stabilizing authority of scholarly references. The Giaour, for example, references the work of the scholar-bureaucrat William Jones (15) and other English translations of fables "celebrated all over the East." (16) It contains notes, citations, and all of the rest of the familiar scholarly armature. The recognizable lure of the Oriental tale lay not only in its characters and in details but also in the scholarly expertise--however fanciful--upon which it was imagined to stand. (17) But in Lara, Byron dispenses with the paratextual scholarly apparatus of Orientalism that was a virtual requirement of the genre, abandoning the "costume" he once defended "lustily." (18)
Lara was clearly meant to be read along with the other Oriental tales, but Byron withheld explanation of how. He even joked about the difficulty. The name Lara was Spanish, he wrote to John Murray. But as to the setting, anyone might guess: "the name only is Spanish--the country is not Spain but the Moon.--" (19) At other times, as in a letter to Hobhouse, he claims that he chose the name purely for its sound: "the name was liquid which put it into my head for it's [sic] smooth & antique sound." (20) The idea of a liquid sound pouring into Byron's head of its own will suggests a tactile slipperiness even as it conjures a graceful fluidity of communication in which the author, who " [had] no country whatever in [his] view, " cedes agency to the melody of "one word." (21) It is a strange position to take, that a foreign language has no link to a foreign land. As he insists that the liquid name has virtually no content, he opens a gap between sound and meaning, unsettling any possible link between the proper name and national belonging. Byron mocks the "Orientalizing" conventions of the other tales, suggesting that sound is more important than setting--perhaps not only in his own work. And, Byron's lunar fantasy notwithstanding, the poem has struck readers as more European than Eastern, as it focuses on a figure who returns to a European home from an unnamed Eastern adventure. (22)
Unfolding in two cantos, Lara centers on a mysterious figure, the eponymous hero, who returns home after a long absence, accompanied by his loyal page, Kaled. The poem is relentlessly concerned with names and identities: its central action revolves around the question of whether the man called Lara is who he says he is. Mysteries abound: the so-called Lara may have murdered Sir Ezzelin to protect his identity, after first challenging him to a duel. When Ezzelin fails to show up for the duel, Lord Otho resolves to stand in for his missing guest, and Lara wounds him. Ultimately Lara leads an insurrection of serfs against Lord Otho. Fatally wounded in battle, Lara dies with Kaled by his side. Only Kaled seems to understand Lara's secrets, and, in the end, Kaled turns out to have a secret too. After Lara's death, Kaled is revealed to be a woman. The poem ends without resolving this mystery or the mystery of whether Lara was who he claimed to be or might have been another person, perhaps Conrad from The Corsair. Byron keeps all of his cards close to his chest.
Lara excavates signs and symbols from earlier tales by other writers, and by Byron himself. It echoes stock descriptions, as in the case of the central character, who is fitted to the look of the genre with "locks of sable, brow of gloom" (1.198). On the one hand, this would seem to confirm what we have come to know well from Edward Said's classic critique of the moves of Orientalism: by Byron's time, the genre of the Oriental romance was so well codified that it formed a kind of literary universe unto itself complete with common conventions, references, and patterns of intertextuality. (23)
Recognizing this, though, does not necessarily help us recognize Lara. We might also think of this sort of repetition in light of Byron's own comments on originality. Byron scoffed at the notion that his own work might be a copy of someone else's, yet he also criticized the notion of originality. He writes that the Scottish novelist, John Galt, "says there is a coincidence between the first part of 'the Bride' and some story of his--whether published or not, I know not, never having seen it. He is almost the last person on whom any one would commit literary larceny, and I am not conscious of any witting thefts on any of the genus. As to originality, all pretensions are ludicrous,--'there is nothing new under the sun.'" (24) Yet, just as Byron's citation of a familiar beauty--"there is nothing new under the sun"-reminds us that reading and writing are also modes of excavating the literary past, the familiarity of descriptions in Lara further creates the sense that Lara is an artifact from earlier tales. And, of course, Byron himself elicited this connection in his "advertisement" to the poem, which coyly invites the reader to interpret Lara as a "sequel" to his earlier tale, The Corsair, (25) itself previously announced as "the last production with which I shall trespass on public patience." (26) The chain seemed intenninable. One reviewer complained, "like most of his lordship's poems, it [Lara] is a sequel which itself requires a sequel to satisfy the curiosity of the reader. " (27) Readers were led to wonder what distinguished Lara from Conrad, the hero of The Corsair. Byron presented the identity and originality of the character Lara as an animating mystery. That the poem was originally published anonymously suggests he was gesturing towards making his own authorship a mystery as well, but there was little doubt about who wrote the poem.
Lara resembles Conrad, and of course, Lara resembles the character, Byron, too--with all of his magnetic charms. After describing how Lara, like an author, "entwined / Himself perforce around the hearer's mind" (1.371-72), the poem's narrator moves from the third-person descriptive mode to directly address "you," the hearer/reader:
You could not penetrate his soul, but found Despite your wonder, to your own he wound; His presence haunted still; and from the breast He forced an all unwilling interest Vain was the struggle in that mental net, His spirit seem'd to dare you to forget! (1.377-82)
The passage presents us with the familiar identification of Lara's power of fascination with Byron's own forceful "art magic." (28) The phrase negates the will, or intention, of "you," the reader, for as "you" give up your "unwilling interest," "you" submit to something that is, as Andrew Elfenbein glosses the phrase, either "not voluntary" or "not desired." (29) While this might seem to establish the manly "force" of Lara, subsequent scenes find Lara in fits and faints: instead of a hero who "mans himself" (The Corsair 1.584), we have one who collapses. Lara, the character, is unstable, as is Lara, the poem.
There is plenty of activity in the poem--mysterious crimes, cross-dressing scenes of battle--but Lara is not really a poem of action. In fact, in the first canto, the most dramatic moment is strikingly still. Lara seems frozen in sleep: "Cold as the marble where his length was laid, / Pale as the beam that o'er his features play'd" (1.211-12). "Senseless," Lara still speaks.
But it is an odd kind of dream speech, mysterious language from a mysterious man: "his words are strung / In terms that seem not of his native tongue" (1.229--30). His listeners don't understand him, and Byron offers his reader no guide. When Kaled, Lara's page, arrives, one might expect that he would help translate Lara's "accents of another land" for the reader and for the increasingly anxious narrator (1.292). Instead, Byron makes a drama out of the refusal to reveal Lara's thoughts, as Lara's "distinct but strange" speech is presented by the narrator as a failure to recall his "native tongue," while his body, by contrast, "recalls its function" as it haltingly returns to life (1.231; 1.225-29). Byron collapses Lara the character and Lara the tale. Lara serves as a "fantastic figure" of the tension between voice and form (1.195).
Just as the poem "hovers" between genres, the character hovers between life and language. (30) The problem, to use Byron's term, is "metaphysical." (31) Or, to put it in the words of Diana Fuss, "Literature that immortalizes voice also entombs it, which is why every poem can be broadly understood as a corpse poem. The speaking corpse names not just a particular kind of literary persona but a general attribute of all lyric poems, verse suspended between the animated voice of the speaker and the frozen form of the poem that preserves it." (32) Throughout Lara, the hero's trances and ghostly qualities raise questions about what animates him; as Fuss helps us see, these questions about Lara, the character, are also questions about form and genre. To the extent that Lara functions as metonym for the poem in general, he functions as a "speaking corpse" representing the animating aspect of lyric voice in the midst of a narrative tale, even one that Byron worried was "too little narrative."
Byron also points to the limits of literary tropes with the blazon that touches on Lara's cheeks, lip, and eye. In this twist on the blazon, Byron adds a touch of gothic horror to the classical conceit of listing the beloved's bodily features. While the blazon of a formerly "senseless" body animates Lara, it does not restore his "native tongue" (1.217). The narrator informs us that Lara's speech is doomed, for the "accents" were "meant to meet an ear / That hears him not--alas! that cannot hear!" (1.233-34). The synecdochal missing ear stands for someone, or something--perhaps Conrad's lost love who dies in Lara's ostensible "prequel"--but the stanza closes on that mysterious exclamation, presenting us with only the blank space on the page.
Lara's "vassals" cannot understand him (1.154), nor can the narrator. His language sounds foreign, "native" to some other place, authentically strange, something like what Byron sought to achieve in the poem. Byron himself faced the charge of writing as if he were a stranger to the English language. As Peter Manning reminds us in an important article, T. S. Eliot claimed that Byron "added nothing to the language" and "might easily have been an accomplished foreigner writing English." But as Manning argues, Eliot's dismissal of Byron as linguistic foreigner masks his bias for "the Word, the authoritative utterance in which not only meaning but also being seem to reside." The "Word" guarantees a certain ontological stability and certainty; the new poetics that Manning advocates would be "one that never offers the consolations of climax or comprehensiveness, never holds forth the promise of an order suddenly made manifest." (33) While Manning focuses on Don Juan, he helps us see how Byron's staging of the stubbornly foreign in Lam "displays the fictiveness of language generally." (34) By presenting his Eastern tales as a series, Byron seems to promise a certain kind of order. Readers of The Corsair expect Lara to be Conrad. But if proper names are part of language's necessary fictions, then Manning's argument requires us to take seriously the ways in which Byron preserves the gap in identity, the split between Lara and Conrad, as a necessary interruption or rupture. As a result, the "fictiveness of language" becomes entwined with the fictiveness of identity.
If Eliot objected to Byron as "an accomplished foreigner writing English," Jerome Christensen draws our attention to contemporary reviewers' objections to Byron's use of "disfiguring" foreign words in the Eastern tales. (35) Such words--tambour, chibouque, and Delis, to name a few--often were accompanied by an explanatory footnote. (36) While the names in Lara sound foreign to English ears--the feminine ending of the Spanish Lara or the unexplained Kaled (37)--Byron drops other such "disfiguring" signs of the foreign. In their place, we have words that we are told are foreign ("accents of another land"), but we don't actually encounter them; we intuit their illegibility through the narrator's frustration. If earlier tales like The Bride of Abydos glittered with foreign words translated in the notes, Byron now refuses to translate Lara's "other tongue" for us; and even in the poem, only one character appears capable of translating for him, Lara's page, Kaled. But this one hope of understanding comes to nothing: Lara's words are meant for "an ear / That hears him not." Does Lara babble, or does he murmur of lost love, like the hero of a chivalric verse romance? Can there be a satisfactory end to desire?
His page approach'd, and he alone appear'd To know the import of the words they heard; And, by the changes of his cheek and brow, They were not such as Lara should avow, Nor he interpret,--yet with less surprise Than those around their chieftain's state he eyes, But Lara's prostrate form he bent beside, And in that tongue which seem'd his own replied, And Lara heeds those tones that gently seem To soothe away the horrors of his dream-- If dream it were, that thus could overthrow A breast that needed not ideal woe. (1.235-46)
In this circuit, the non-native tongue is but "accents" and "tones" to the narrator. Unable to translate or invent for us, the narrator finds it impossible even to determine whether Kaled's "tongue" is his own, carefully qualifying the language in which Kaled soothes Lara as "that tongue"--body or language--"which seem'd his own."
As a scene of crisis in which Kaled ministers to Lara, this would seem important: a time of revelation, perhaps, or disclosed crimes. Yet in this, the first representation of a linguistic exchange between Kaled and Lara, Lara is barely conscious, his speech much verbal "shuddering" (38) as far as the narrator is concerned. Again, we find a scene of incomprehension. The narrator suspects the non-native tongue can reveal thoughts otherwise unavailable; already, this counters an intuitive sense of the native tongue as the language in which one is most comfortable. But his lapse into another tongue also suggests that Lara may not be a native of the country he claims. It also raises the possibility that "that tongue which seem'd his own" is one that might display and perform a voicing of same-sex desire. (39)
Lara's linguistic drama, as Zak Sitter argues, is legible as an Orientalist trope if Kaled is understood as a "native performant" upon whose body we read the "effects" of language. Reading Kaled's body renders Lara "partially legible." (40) This decoding is never complete. Neither the narrator nor the reader quite knows what is seen and heard here. Lara is not in control of his language, and though he is soothed by Kaled's response, the solace might be said to come from the register of musical sound--the liquid pleasure of the name Lara, for example--rather than whatever kind of comprehension one locked in a frenzied dream might attain. The narrator looks for answers and reads guilt in Kaled's gestures, yet even that interpretation seems to strain at meaning where none might be. If we are used to thinking of Orientalism as that fantasy which produces its object, the Orient, and thrills the Anglo-British reader with tales of a mysterious and exotic other place, Byron calls attention to the unintelligibility, the illegibility, of such discourse when he stages scenes that display the non-instrumental nature of communication (even if it is, as Byron feared, also an all-too familiar, and thus potentially redundant discourse). He thus also asks us to ponder the effects of a foreclosed knowledge in a poem that depends on not communicating a secret. (41)
Byron plays this game over and over, up to Lara's death. Here, the drama of Lara's trance speech is repeated, but this time the blazon takes life away: "But gasping heaved the breath that Lara drew, / And dull the film along his dim eye grew; / His limbs stretch'd fluttering, and his head droop'd" (2.490-92). The narrator stands by, once again, for Kaled's interpretation, lingering on their entwinement: (42)
His dying tones are in that other tongue, To which some strange remembrance wildly clung. They spake of other scenes, but what--is known To Kaled, whom their meaning reach'd alone; And he replied, though faintly to their sound, While gazed the rest in dumb amazement round: They seem'd even then--that twain--unto the last To half forget the present in the past; To share between themselves some separate fate, Whose darkness none beside should penetrate. (2.443-53)
Yet even as the narrator twines the two together, communication fails. What "separate fate" might they share? The answer seems to both hold together and distinguish between the two figures, much as the ambivalence of the phrase "separate fate" holds open the possibility that what they share between themselves is also something that splits them apart.
After Lara dies, the poem's center shifts to Kaled whose sex, now revealed, seems to explain his intimacy with Lara. In retrospect now, the entwinement of the two may be read as passion between a male and a female lover. But, in the terms that the poem has established, this revelation explains nothing. It offers no key to the tale's central mystery. Whoever Lara is, he seems to be guilty, whether of imposture or murder or something else again. But we don't know of what, for sure, or who he is. We know only his name. As a result, the whole poem could be said to revolve around a purely self-evident statement.
When Lara first speaks in the poem, it is to declare his name. " 'My name is Lara!--.' " This is announced in response to a stranger he encounters at Otho's ball who repeatedly "exclaim'd, with haughty sneer, / 'Tis he!--how came he thence?--what doth he here?'" (1.432, 425-26). Eventually, the stranger's sneers became "too much for Lara to pass by" (1.427). The stranger's cry "'Tis he!" implies that what is too much to ignore is the doubt cast on his identity and his belonging; the stranger implies that he knows Lara as someone else, someone by a different name. There are several levels to the stranger's provocation, which functions as an address that reminds us that "we are vulnerable to the address of others in ways we cannot fully control." (43) It might prompt a debate over the problem of the pronominal referent: to whom does the stranger refer? The pronoun is gendered, and perhaps Lara objects to the stranger's insistent gendering language. In addition, Lara might well resist the flattening of his person into the anonymous pronoun, "he," a "non-person." (44) But pronouns shift too, and in Lara's response, "he" and "I" will exchange places. The non-person becomes human in response to wounding speech. (45)
Attempting to dismiss the stranger's question that has echoed around the room, Lara appeals to the transparency of identity supposedly established both by the proper name and the pronominal deictic marker, I:
"My name is Lara!--when thine own is known, Doubt not my fitting answer to requite The unlook'd for courtesy of such a knight. 'Tis Lara!--further woudst thou mark or ask? I shun no question, and I wear no mask." (1.432-36)
Here, Lara turns the mocking echo around, replacing the sneering " 'Tis he" with his own "'Tis Lara!" Yet because the reader has been invited at the outset of the poem to read Lara as a version of Conrad, the final declaration, "I wear no mask," settles nothing for the reader. For Lara to be considered as a sequel to the earlier tale The Corsair (as Byron's advertisement both does, and does not suggest that it is), we must read Lara as a mask for Conrad, so Lara's statement seems to mock both the stranger, whose name we learn is Sir Ezzelin, and the reader. Sir Ezzelin, in effect, asks the questions that readers of Byron's tales ask: isn't Lara simply a hero from an earlier tale going by a different name?
Lara's declaration affirms a nominal identity, but his final statement, that "I wear no mask," cannot be aligned neatly with any name; as a deictic marker, the "I" is always true to itself. This passage speculates on the ways pronouns and names shift as they construct personhood (and it also invites us to read the proper name as a mask). Byron insists on the irony of Lara's declaration of transparent identity, but he never declares that Lara is someone other than who he claims to be. When Byron has Lara respond to the implicit question, "who are you" (and the explicit question, "aren't you him"), with "My name is Lara," he raises the question of how identity and identification work. The name is allowed to operate on an almost nonsensical level that underscores the tautology of the proper name. For what surprises one here--presumably Lara's interlocutor but also the reader--about the "half contemptuousness" (1.447) of Lara's tone is that the hero clearly does not offer his name with the intention of positioning himself in some recognizable social network or symbolic order. In this passage, the invocation of the social marker of "knight" is applied, after all, not to Lara himself but to his uncourtly interrogator (1.434). Lara (or Byron) raises the question, that is, of the ethical implications of treating people on the basis of such an arbitrary social mark as a name.
Recognition is a central problem in the narrative of Lara. But, in the conceptual terms of the poem, it is not a problem that can be solved. In a contemporary poem such as Samuel Rogers's Jacqueline, with which Lara was first published--and which Byron himself admired--quite the reverse was true. (46) In that poem, Jacqueline "flies away from home" and runs off with a suitor of whom her father disapproves, but eventually returns. When her young brother catches sight of a figure approaching from a distance, he cries--and the echo of Byron is unmistakable--"'Tis Jacqueline! 'tis Jacqueline!" He insists, "I know her by her kirtle green." (47) After blockages of one sort and another, in the end, appearances and essences align. The boy is right; the family is reunited.
Nothing of the sort takes place in Lara, and, moreover, nothing of the sort is even possible. The revelation of Kaled's sex masquerades as narrative closure which would solve the poem's murder mystery by presenting Kaled's gender as "the disclosure of what now passes for a telling fact, the whole story: 'Oh, he's a woman!' A woman and a serial killer." (48) The supposition of Kaled's guilt is partially solicited by Byron because Guinare of The Corsair killed: if this text is like any other in the series, then we might expect Kaled to be the killer. (49) And the poem states, "It was not Lara's hand by which he fell" (2.597). This would seem to implicate Kaled, but nothing is made explicit. In any case, the poem clearly does not present the revelation as a satisfaction: it does not explicitly solve the mystery of who killed Ezzelin unless the very revelation of Kaled's gender substitutes for a more explicit revelation of her murderous guilt. In the end all that the poem is willing to say about their connection is that the three are linked through death, "Kaled--Lara--Ezzelin are gone, / Alike without their monumental stone!" (2.598-99).
Perhaps the real surprise about Kaled comes from the poem's own blurring of actions and pronouns contained in the lines leading up to the stanza before "the sex [is] confessed" (2.517). In these lines, Kaled behaves so much like Lara--nearly falling in a trance and possessed by a "fixed glance"--that the reader quite begins to think that she has misread, and that Lara hasn't died at ah. Byron encourages this confusion by repeating "he," "him," and "his" frequently throughout the stanza, abandoning names until the final lines that declare him to be a her. "and Kaled--felt no shame--/ What now to her was Womanhood or Fame?" (2.518-19).
"What now" without anyone's "other tongue" to listen to?
After apparently dismissing the importance of both "Womanhood" and "Fame" to Kaled, the poem leaves her to "trace strange characters in the sand" (2.625). Kaled becomes an author, marking "strange characters" that may never be deciphered. Her actions forge an obvious link to the author of the text itself. The shift to writing invites us to identify Byron not with Lara, as most of Byron's contemporaries did, but with Kaled, and to conjure the figure of Byron as a woman in drag, spinning untold tales of forbidden love. The poem ends on a note of pathos, with Kaled's "tale untold" (2.627). But the rhetoric of "tale untold" might also mean something like a tale undone: Kaled's is the story of the impossibility of telling. This theme of the instability of communication runs, in fact, throughout the poem itself. In these last lines, the text turns the liquidity of communication into the strangeness of inscription itself.
Here, to understand Lara's strangeness, we need to recall its "likeness," and Byron's own conviction about the poem's position in his series of Oriental tales. To John Murray, Byron declares the poem "of no great promise separately; but, as connected with the other tales, it will do very well for the vols you mean to publish--I would recommend this arrangement--Childe H[arold]--the smaller poems--Giaour--Bride--Corsair--Lara--the last completes the series--and its very likeness renders it necessary to the others." (50) Whether as a result of canny marketing or honest conviction, Byron argues that the poem's resemblance to other writings--the exact point so many of his reviewers lamented--is its strength because it allows for closure. As Byron plays with the "likeness" of Oriental "glitter," he suggests that his own Oriental tales be read as a commentary on the Oriental tale in general. Of course, the possibility for an ironic counter-commentary within the tradition of Orientalism is already present in Beckford's writing that Byron so admired. As Srinivas Aravamudan argues, Vathek is characterized by its ability to follow faithfully the codes of Orientalism--including a tyrannical despot, a sense of opulent decadence, framing scholarly footnotes--even as it contains a destabilizing thread that flaunts all codes: "parodie orientalism, as practiced by Beckford, is an ambivalent performance. It revels in all the favorite tropisms and unmasks them at the same time." (51)
Like modern critics, Byron took pleasure in Beckford's ability at once to employ and parody the codes of literary Orientalism. And in Lara, and Byron's other Oriental romances, the oscillation between sincerity and belief present in Vathek shows through. But in Lara, the relationship between repetition and deviation is altered. In contrast to Beckford, Byron's destabilizations are so consistent that they effect an estrangement from the language of Orientalism itself. Perhaps we should speak instead of Byron's Orientalisms. (52)
Byron himself, however, favored the term "orientalities" over orientalisms. Describing The Bride of Abydos, Byron says he wrote with "my head full of orientahi/es (I can't call them isms), and wrote on rapidly." (53) On the one hand, there seems to be an emphasis on style ("orientality" as a kind of decor), but there is also a suggestion of orientality as an orientation. And the idea that Byron's language of orientalities is better understood as a kind of orientation (that can end up pointing at different things depending on where one stands) reminds us that one of the strangest things about the poem Lara is the way it manages to make a drama out of a refusal to disclose meaning. (54) It creates suspense out of our inability to understand Lara's dying stories, told in "that other tongue." And its faith in non-instrumental communication might be closer to a defense of misunderstanding, in Adorno's aphoristic sense: "misunderstandings are the medium for communicating the incommunicable." (55)
Byron points to the way literature depends on communicative intent, without always giving us Lara's acts of communication, and, as if to underscore this, he has Lara point to the east as he lies dying. (56) This could be the sign of Byron's waning interest in the Eastern tale: the limp movement of a dying limb. As the narrator stands by to interpret it, he speculates whether it might be "the morrow" of the sun, or "chance, or some remember'd scene" that motivates the gesture (2.468-70). Is it a historical, or even nostalgic move that reminds us of the past successes of Byron's Eastern tales, or a prophetic one that points towards the limits of a genre based on the distinction between East and West, even as it troublingly links the unknowability of the self with the unknowability of the other? It might gesture towards the loss of the lyric "I," dying in a narrative tale; it might be arbitrary "chance."
As readers reflect on this capacity of an audience to be interested in language unconnected to instrumental communication, they might also be led to reflect on the way in which Byron's poem represents itself as Lara's unknown "other tongue" writ large. The audience that buys Lara because they think it will be like other Oriental tales, confirming their sense that the "Oriental" is an identity decrypted by European writers, will inevitably miss the point of Byron's more "metaphysical" gesture in the poem--and thus fulfill Byron's sense that the poem "is too little narrative--and too metaphysical to please the greater number of readers-." (57) But subject to the constant charge of repetition, even the very "likeness" of genre can be made to generate interest again--by using the expectations generated by that repetition to develop new occasions for surprise. (58)
University of Oregon
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--. "In the Wake of the Novel: The Oriental Tale as National Allegory." Novel: A Forum on Fiction 33, no. 1 (1999): 5-31.
--. Tropicopolitans: Colonialism and Agency, 1688-1804. Durham: Duke University Press, 1999.
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--. Lord Byron: The Complete Poetical Works. 7 Volumes. Edited by Jerome McGann. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980-1993.
--. The Giaour. In Three Oriental Tales. Edited by Alan Richardson.
--. Selected Poems. Edited by Susan J. Wolfson and Peter J. Manning. London: Penguin Books, 1996.
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Conant, Martha Pike. The Oriental Tale in England in the Eighteenth Century. New York: Columbia University Press, 1908.
Crompton, Louis. Byron and Greek Love: Flomophobia in 19th-Century England. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.
Elfenbein, Andrew. "Byron: Gender and Sexuality." In The Cambridge Companion to Byron, 56-73. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
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Giuliano, Cheryl Fallon. "Gulnare/Kaled's 'Untold' Feminization of Byron's Oriental Tales." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 33, no. 4 (1993): 785-807.
Gleckner, Robert. Byron and the Ruins of Paradise. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967.
Keegan, Abigail. Byron's Othered Self and Voice: Contextualizing the Homographic Signature. New York: Peter Lang, 2003.
Leask, Nigel. British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Lowe, Lisa. Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.
McGann, Jerome J. The Beauty of Inflections: Literary Investigations in Historical Method and Theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.
Moore, Thomas. Lalla Rookh; an Oriental Romance. New York: T. Y. Crowell & Co., 1891.
Murphy, Peter T. "Climbing Parnassus, and Falling Off: Rogers and The Pleasures of Memory." The Wordsworth Circle 24, no. 3 (1993): 151-55.
--. "Glory and Nothing: Byron Remembers Wordsworth." Studies in Romanticism 50, no. 4 (2011): 661-83.
Phillipson, Mark. "Byron's Revisited Haunts." Studies in Romanticism 39, no. 2 (2000): 303-22.
Reiman, Donald H. The Romantics Reviewed: Contemporary Reviews of British Romantic Writers. New York: Garland, 1972.
Richardson, Alan, ed. Three Oriental Tales. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
Rogers, Samuel. Jacqueline. In Lara: A Tale; Jacqueline, a Tale. N.p.: Printed for J. Murray, 1814.
Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1978.
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Between Men. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.
Sharafuddin, Mohammed. Islam and Romantic Orientalism: Literary Encounters with the Orient. London: Tauris, 1994.
Sitter, Zak. "The Native Performant: Linguistic Authority in the Text of Romantic Orientalism." differences 21, no. 2 (January 1, 2010): 109--41.
Smiles, Samuel. A Publisher and His Friends. Vol. 1. London: John Murray, 1891.
St. Clair, William. The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Turhan, Filiz. The Other Empire: British Romantic Writings about the Ottoman Empire. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Warren, Andrew. The Orient and the Young Romantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Watkins, Daniel P. Social Relations in Byron's Eastern Tales. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1987.
Wolfson, Susan J. Formal Charges: The Shaping of Poetry in British Romanticism. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997.
--. '"Their She Condition': Cross-Dressing and the Politics of Gender in Don Juan." ELH 54, no. 3 (1987): 585-617.
(1.) Byron, Lara, in Jerome McGann, ed., Lord Byron: The Complete Poetical Works, vol. 3 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), Canto 1, lines 175-80. Subsequent references appear in the text as CPW by canto and lines.
(2.) Gleckner, Byron and the Ruins of Paradise (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967), 164.
(3.) Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 55.
(4.) Watkins, Social Relations in Byron's Eastern Tales (Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1987), 89.
(5.) Turhan, The Other Empire: British Romantic Writings about the Ottoman Empire (New York: Routledge, 2003), 75.
(6.) Sharafuddin, Islam and Romantic Orientalism: Literary Encounters with the Orient (London: Tauris, 1994), 217. To my mind, Sharafuddin underplays how Byron's Orientalism questions categories of authenticity and realism.
(7.) Moore, Lalla Rookh: an Oriental Romance (New York, 1891), 14. Southey and Moore each fitted out his Eastern tales with an extensive paratextual apparatus. Sources for their notes were both miscellaneous and predictable. The seventeenth-century French Orientalist Barthelemy d'Herbelot was a typical reference.
(8.) Byron, To John Murray, 27 November 1813, Byron's Letters and Journals, ed. Leslie A. Marchand (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973), 3:175. Henceforth BLJ.
(9.) Christensen, Lord Byron's Strength (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), especially 124-26.
(10.) Warren, The Orient and the Young Romantics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 97.
(11.) The quoted phrase comes from an oft-cited writing tip Byron gives to Thomas Moore: "Stick to the East," he suggests. Byron continues: "The North, South, and West, have all been exhausted; but from the East, we have nothing but S **'s unsaleables,--... The little I have done in that way is merely a 'voice in the wilderness' for you; and, if it has had any success, that also will prove that the public are orientalizing, and pave the path for you" (To Thomas Moore, 28 August 1813, BLJ, 3:101). Reading this passage in light of Southey and Byron's different Orientalisms and literary conflicts, Tim Fulford suggests that Byron's advice is given "cynically." See "Poetic Hells and Pacific Edens," Romanticism on the Net: An Electronic Journal Devoted to Romantic Studies 32-33 (February 11, 2003): para. I, http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/009259ar, accessed 30 May 2015. For Jerome J. McGann, the quote reflects "[a] kind of careerist calculation" which Byron would later repudiate. See The Beauty of Inflections (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 256. For Leask, the passage signals Byron's consumerist understanding of his Eastern tales as commodities. See British Romantic Writers and the East, 13.
(12.) Byron himself referred to the poems as his Eastern tales; see BLJ, 3:157. Where I wish to draw attention to generic conventions, I use Oriental tale. On the Oriental prose tale in relationship to the history of the novel, see Srinivas Aravamudan, "In the Wake of the Novel: The Oriental Tale as National Allegory," Novel: A Forum on Fiction 33, no. 1 (1999): 5-31 and also his Enlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012). For a still-useful comprehensive bibliography of generic precedents, see Martha Pike Conant, The Oriental Tale in England in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 1908).
(13.) McGann notes of The Giaour that "the early editions sold out quickly" (CPW, 3:413). See also his discussion of The Corsair (CPW, 3:444-45).
(14.) In Byron's final note in The Giaour, he acknowledges that he drew from both d'Herbelot and Beckford's Vathek "for the contents of some of the notes." He praised Vathek for its "correctness of costume, beauty of descriptions, and power of imagination" (Byron, The Giaour, in Three Oriental Tales, ed. Alan Richardson [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002], 226).
(15.) Edward Said writes that Jones's scholarly work was accompanied "with an irresistible impulse always to codify, to subdue the infinite variety of the Orient to 'a complete digest' of laws, figures, customs, and works." See Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1978), 78. For a more extensive discussion of Jones and the politics of translation, see Tejaswini Niranjana, Siting Translation: History, Post-structuralism, and the Colonial Context (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992). On the East India Company and the specifics of scholarly Orientalism in the context of British colonial practices in India, see Sara Suleri, The Rhetoric of English India (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). For an important discussion of how the discipline of English literature emerged out of colonial rule, see Gauri Viswanathan, Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989).
(16.) The quoted phrase is from Vathek, which refers to a nightingale; the sentence in full states: "The passion of the nightingale for the rose is celebrated all over the east" (William Beckford, Vathek, in Alan Richardson, ed., Three Oriental Tales, 170). Byron footnotes his own reference to a nightingale as follows: "The attachment of the nightingale to the rose is a well-known Persian fable" (The Giaour, in Three Oriental Tales, 220).
(17.) Saree Makdisi writes that "the Orient fundamentally requires the mediation of the Orientalist, who alone is capable of understanding all of its complexities and dangers, and of communicating his or her understanding to other Europeans." See Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 205-6.
(18.) Writing to John Murray, who had expressed doubts about whether certain aspects of the The Bride of Abydos were authentic, Byron claims "I don't care one lump of Sugar for my poetry--but for my costume--and my correctness on those points ... I will combat lustily--" (to John Murray, 14 November 1813, BLJ, 3:165). But Lara contains just two footnotes. Zak Sitter also notes, as it were, that this marks a shift from earlier tales: " The Giaour and The Bride of Abydos each contained about forty notes; The Corsair, about half as many." See "The Native Performant: Linguistic Authority in the Text of Romantic Orientalism," differences 21, no. 2 (January 1, 2010): 138.
(19.) Byron, To John Murray, 24 July 1814, BLJ, 4:146.
(20.) Byron, To John Hobhouse, 23 July 1814, BLJ, 4:143.
(21.) In Canto 3 of Childe Harold (1816), Byron meditates on the possible existence of "one word," which might guarantee a certain transparency of representation. See Selected Poems, ed. Susan J. Wolfson and Peter J. Manning (London: Penguin, 1996), 3:905-13. That there is no "one word" suggests that "something must remain in excess of expression for expression to be" (Christensen, Strength, 156).
(22.) Abigail Keegan introduces the plot as follows: "Lara, the protagonist, returns from the East to some secret past in a European setting, and to an all male world of no particular country." See Byron's Othered Self and Voice: Contextualizing the Homographic Signature (New York: Peter Lang, 2003), 133. Mark Phillipson points out that "Lara returns to a gothic residence that shares many attributes with Newstead Abbey, the vast crumbling cradle of Byron's adolescence." See "Byron's Revisited Haunts," SiR 39, no. 2 (2000): 311.
(23.) Said emphasizes the citational aspect of Orientalism: "the Orient is less a place than a topos, a set of references, a congeries of characteristics, that seems to have its origin in a quotation, or a fragment of a text, or a citation from someone's work on the Orient, or some bit of previous imagining, or an amalgam of all these" (Orientalism, 177).
(24.) This is from his journal entry of 10 December 1813, in response to Galt's suggestion that there were odd similarities between Byron's Bride of Abydos and Galt's work.
(25.) Byron writes, "The reader of LARA may probably regard it as a sequel to a poem that recently appeared [The Corsair]: whether the cast of the hero's character, the turn of his adventures, and the general outline and colouring of the story, may not encourage such a supposition, shall be left to his determination" (CPW, 3:453). Byron's contemporaries often took Lara to be Conrad, the central figure in The Corsair. The Literary Review, for example, declared that "Lara is truly Conrad." See Donald H. Reiman, The Romantics Reviewed: Contemporary Reviews of British Romantic Writers (New York: Garland, 1972), B:5:2250. More than a century later, The Oxford Companion to English Literature continues this tradition, declaring: "Lara is in fact Conrad of The Corsair returned to his domains in Spain accompanied by his page Kaled, who is his love, the slave Guinare, in disguise" (Oxford Companion to English Literature, 7th ed., s.v. "Lara").
(26.) Byron, CPW, 3:148.
(27.) Reiman, Romantics Reviewed, B:3:951.
(28.) In March 1817 the author Lady Maria Callcott (Maria Graham) wrote to Byron's publisher, on the subject of Byron's irresistible Swiss Journal: "A more superstitious age would certainly have believed hint possessed of the art magic, so completely does he continue to force attention and sympathy wherever he pleases." See Samuel Smiles, A Publisher and His Friends, vol. 1 (London: John Murray, 1891), 381. William St. Clair notes Murray encouraged this connection through visual extras made available to Byron's readers: "Murray had put on sale sets of engravings for binding into his books. A portrait of Byron led the series, and Childe Harold, the Corsair, Lara, and the other Byronic heroes were drawn to look exactly like him." See The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 331. As Peter T. Murphy summarizes the connection, "Byron's poems had a palpable yet deliciously intangible relationship to Byron the person, someone you might meet, and he energized that relationship by circulating in London high life performing the role of the famous Lord Byron." See "Glory and Nothing: Byron Remembers Wordsworth,"
(29.) Elfenbein, "Byron: Gender and Sexuality," in The Cambridge Companion to Byron (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 62.
(30.) "Lara hovers," Andrew Warren notes, between "the earlier narrative-driven Eastern Tales, and later, more overtly 'metaphysical' Gothic works such as Manfred and Childe Harold IV" (The Orient and the Young Romantics, 97).
(31.) Byron writes to Leigh Hunt, "--I fear you stand almost single in your liking of 'Lara'--it is natural that I should--as being my last & most unpopular effervescence--passing by it's [sic] other sins--it is too little narrative--and too metaphysical to please the greater number of readers--" (1 June 1815, BLJ, 4:295).
(32.) Fuss, "Corpse Poem," Critical Inquiry 30, no. 1 (2003): 30.
(33.) Manning, "Donjuan and Byron's Imperceptiveness to the English Word," in Critical Essays on Lord Byron (New York: G. K. Hall & Co., 1991), 109, 115, 116.
(34.) Manning, "Donjuan and Byron's Imperceptiveness," 137.
(35.) Christensen cites, for example, the Eclectic Review, "this custom of disfiguring his pages with words that are not English, seems growing upon Lord Byron" (Romantics Reviewed, B:2:716, qtd. in Christensen, Strength, 136).
(36.) These examples are all taken from The Bride of Abydos; in the footnotes, we learn that a tambour is a "Turkish drum, which sounds at sunrise, noon, and twilight," a chibouque is a pipe, and Delis are "bravos who form the forlorn hope of calvary" (Notes to Bride, lines 1.73, 233, 236 in CPW, 3:436-37).
(37.) In The Corsair, by contrast, Byron footnotes the name of Guinare; he explains it is "a female name; it means, literally, the flower of the pomegranate" (CPW, 3:448).
(38.) After Lara falls into his first trance, "his marveling vassals" are described as "shuddering" with fear of him, a sign that "their fear was less forgot" than Lara's; Lara, instead, has fallen into "forgetfulness" (1.258, 279).
(39.) In Keegan's reading of the erotics of same sex desire in the poem, the final "page's ending, like the poems themselves, prohibits a final knowing, a final understanding of the sexual subject" (Byron's Othered Self, 142). On the gender politics of cross-dressing in The Corsair and Lara, see Cheryl Fallon Giuliano, " Gulnare/Kaled's 'Untold' Feminization of Byron's Oriental Tales," Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 33, no. 4 (1993): 785-807. On sexuality, homoeroticism, and gender politics in other works, see also Susan J. Wolfson, "'Their She Condition': Cross-Dressing and the Politics of Gender in Donjuan," ELH 54, no. 3 (1987): 585-617, and Louis Crompton, Byron and Greek Love: Homophobia in 19th-Century England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).
(40.) Sitter, "The Native Performant," 114, 127.
(41.) The themes of incomprehension, unspeakablility, and concealment also link Lara to the Gothic. In his classic Romantic Origins, Leslie Brisman notes that Lara makes no secret of its Gothic tropes but argues "one belies the work by seeming to discover, as critics have done, the obvious clanking of gothic machinery and the overt resort to mysterious silence. " See Romantic Origins (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978), 115. In his argument that Ezzelin can be read as a "specter of Lara himself" (124), Brisman effectively anticipates a trope that Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick identifies as a mark of the "paranoid Gothic" in Romantic novels: in such works, "a male hero is in a close, usually murderous relation to another male figure, in some respects his 'double,' to whom he seems to be mentally transparent." See Between Men (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 186.
(42.) On entwinement and the heroic couplet, see Susan Wolfson, Formal Charges: The Shaping of Poetry in British Romanticism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), 133-63
(43.) See Judith Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), 84.
(44.) In Emile Benveniste's discussion of pronouns, the third person "is exactly the nonperson, which possesses as its sign the absence of that which qualifies the T and the 'you.'" Benveniste analyzes how the third-person can function as an honorific ("His Majesty") or an insult used "to slight someone who does not even deserve that one address oneself 'personally' to him." See Problems in General Linguistics (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1971), 200.
(45.) Consider also Judith Butler's discussion of Adorno's claim in Minima Moralia that "he who is rebuffed becomes human" (Account, 102). In a different but related vein, Frances Ferguson's discussion of personhood, name, and number in Wordsworth's "We are Seven" points towards a link between Byron and Wordsworth here; both open us to "understanding another way of conceiving person." See Solitude and the Sublime: Romanticism and the Aesthetics of Individuation (New York: Routledge, 1992), 169.
(46.) Byron praises its "grace and softness and poetry" (To Samuel Rogers, 27 June 1814, BLJ, 3:133). On the forgetting of Rogers as symptomatic of Romantic criticism's investment in particular narratives of marginality, see Peter T. Murphy, "Climbing Parnassus, and Falling Off: Rogers and The Pleasures of Memory," The Wordsworth Circle 24, no. 3 (1993): 151-55 For an exception, see Caroline Franklin's comparison of the two heroines in Byron's Heroines (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 88-89.
(47.) Rogers, Lara: A Tale; Jacqueline, a Tale (London, 1814), 1:19, 2:190, 2:192.
(48.) Christensen, Strength, 126.
(49.) There is critical precedent for this. Franklin, referring to W. H. Marshall's The Structure of Byron's Major Poems, writes, "There is every reason to believe" that Kaled is responsible for Ezzelin's death (Byron's Heroines, 87).
(50.) Byron, To John Murray, 2 September 1814, BLJ, 4:165. Gleckner offers a more detailed discussion of this letter; see Ruins of Paradise, 153. Sitter offers another way to gloss Byron's notion of completion. He writes: "Although Byron wrote two further Eastern tales (The Siege of Corinth and Parisinia), both the development of the hero figure and Byron's refinement of the Tale as a poetic form are essentially complete with Lara" ("The Native Performant," 124).
(51.) Aravamudan, Tropicopolitans: Colonialism and Agency, 1688-1804 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999), 221.
(52.) For an influential revision of Said that underscores the multiplicity and "heterogentity" of the disourse(s) of Orientalism, see Lisa Lowe, Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), especially 1-29.
(53.) Byron, 6 December 1813, BLJ, 3:233.
(54.) Thanks to Anne-Lise Francois for discussions on this point.
(55.) Theodor Adorno, Prisms, trans. Samuel Weber and Shierry Weber (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1981), 232. I am grateful to the anonymous reviewer who suggested this link.
(56.) Phillipson notes that "the last gesture is cryptic," and Leask includes it in a list of items that don't quite sum up the "reach" of the text itself (Phillipson, "Byron's Revisited Haunts," 312; Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East, 61). Lara's very last gesture, however, is not the upraised arm, but pressing Kaled's hand "upon his heart" (2.494).
(57.) Byron, To Leigh Hunt, 1 June 1813, BLJ, 4:295.
(58.) Thanks to Celeste Langan for help with this point.
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