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Byron and Italy$
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Alan Rawes and Diego Saglia

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526100559

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526100559.001.0001

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From Lord Nelvil to Dugald Dalgetty: Byron’s Scottish identity in Italy

From Lord Nelvil to Dugald Dalgetty: Byron’s Scottish identity in Italy

(p.61) 3 From Lord Nelvil to Dugald Dalgetty: Byron’s Scottish identity in Italy
Byron and Italy

Jonathan Gross

Manchester University Press

This chapter focuses primarily on Byron’s letters from his Italian years in order to examine the extent to which his Italianisation actually intensified his sense of his own Britishness. The latter category everywhere underpins and complicates his relationship to Italy. As this chapter shows, even as the British poet was ‘rebranding’ himself as almost but never entirely Italian, the Italianised British aristocrat was re-imagining himself as a Scottish mercenary in the midst of Italian revolution. Under the influence of Madame de Staël’s Lord Nelvil (from her 1807 novel Corinne) and Walter Scott’s novels (which Byron avidly read while in Italy), the poet depicted himself in his letters home as an aristocratic Scottish lord leading a band of troops or as serving the Italian cause ‘like Dugald Dalgetty’ in Scott’s A Legend of Montrose. As this chapter demonstrates, Byron never felt himself ‘more Scottish’ than when residing in Ravenna, Venice, Genoa and Pisa.

Keywords:   Byron’s letters, Scottishness, Britishness, Cultural displacement, Revolution, Aristocracy, Walter Scott, Madame de Staël

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