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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

'A More Beloved Existence': From Shakespeare's 'Venice' to Byron's Venice'

19th October 2009, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside 2, New Elvet, Room 201, Mr Bernard Beatty (Liverpool University)

As Charles Dickens's description reminds us, Venice has always allured the cultural imagination. Rising out of the sea, to which its symbolic marriage was signalled by the Doge's annual casting of a ring into the lagoon, it is like no other human settlement in its physical make-up. Even now funeral corteges and furniture removals travel down canals rather than roads; as visitors step in and out of vaporetti, they seem to be moving in and out of pictorial spaces. The city brings dwelling, history, aesthetics, and commerce into intimate connection with water.

This lecture series focuses on the city's representation in painting, music and literature since 1800.

Lord Byron lived off and on in Venice for four years and spoke fluent Venetian dialect with courtesans and intellectuals but it was writers from Shakespeare onwards who gave him his first impression of the city .
He saw a city thronged with fictions that gave it 'a more belov'd existence'. But Byron was acutely sensitive to historical changes, political events, and the strange mixture of dark and bright elements in Venetian culture. Byron's Venice was ruled by the Austrians and his poetry seeks to understand the thousand years of Venetian history from this new perspective of melancholy enchantment.

Bernard Beatty is Senior Fellow in the School of English at Liverpool University and Associate Fellow in the School of Divinity at St Andrews.
He is the author of many works on Byron and other authors and topics, and was, from 1988-2005, the Editor of the Byron Journal.

Contact for more information about this event.

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Next Event

  • 29th January 2021
  • Title TBC
  • Online (Zoom)
  • Dr Hannah-Rose Murray (University of Edinburgh)