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George Gordon Byron was a British Romantic poet and satirist whosepoetry and personality captured the imagination of Europe. Renowned as the “gloomy egoist” of his autobiographical poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812–18) in the 19th century, he is now moregenerally esteemed for the satiric realism of Don Juan (1819–24).
With his life and his works he made popular the “Byronic hero”, a passionate moody and mysterious man who suffers from an unnamed crimehidden in his past. He is characterized by proud individualism, rejects the conventional morality and has a distaste for social institutions and norms. The Byronic hero is an outsider, of noble birth,with a great sensibility to nature and beauty and with a strong power of seduction; women cannot resist him and men either admire or envy him. These different elements of suffering, rebelliousness anderoticism were irresistible in Byron’s age.
The Byronic hero first appears in Byron's semi-autobiographical epic narrative poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812-1818).
This poem, made up of fourCantos independent in content and structure, deals with the travels of the young nobleman Harold who, disillusioned with a life of pleasure and revelry, looks for distraction in foreign lands; in awider sense it is an expression of the melancholy and disillusionment felt by a generation weary of the wars of the post-Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. The title comes from the term “childe”, amedieval title for a young man who is a candidate for knighthood.
The figure of the protagonist is not the main focus of Byron’s attention, he rather uses it to give unity to the different episodes ofthe narrative and the Pilgrimage across Europe provides the poet with the chance to introduce picturesque and exotic settings.
Especially the fourth Canto, which is set in Italy, contains several...