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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Venice Public Lecture - 'A More Beloved Existence': from Shakespeare's 'Venice' to Byron's Venice

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

This is the first lecture in the 'Venice and the Cultural Imagination' public lecture series.

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.

"This Strange Dream Upon the Water"

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 will focus on the city's representation in painting, music and literature since 1800.

To launch this lecture series, The Bowes Museum are offering a limited number of '2 for 1' tickets to gain entry to the museum. Currently on display are two Canaletto paintings (including the one above) of Venice, which are included as part of the Bowes' 'Venice Exhibition'. For further details of how to get one of these tickets, please visit the 'Venice and Cultural Imagination' website by following the link below.

The image above is of a painting called 'The Bucintoro Returning To The Molo' by Giovanni Antonio Canal (called Canaletto) which belongs to and is supplied courtesy of the Bowes Musuem in County Durham.


Contact m.s.o' for more information about this event.

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