« AnteriorContinuar »
flesh ; the eight years intervening between his departure from England and his untimely death in Greece were spent for the most part in Italy.
As a matter of fact, the physical return of Lord Byron to Spain would have been of relative insignificance to modern men, who think of him chiefly as a poet, and who attach greater importance to traces of his literary influence than to accurate maps of his travels. Byron himself was not unaware of his popularity on the Continent. In some jocose lines called E Nihilo Nihil ; or An Epigram Bewitched one finds this reference to | oreign versions of his works :
Of rhymes I printed seven volumes —
I. Referring to a quatrain On the Birth of John Williâm Rizzo Hoppner, which was translated into Greek, Latin, Italian (also the Venetian dialect), German, French, Spanish, Illyrian, Hebrew, Armenian, and Samaritan. Poetry, 1898-19o4, VII, 54, note 3). 2. Ibid., p. 55.
That was in February, 1818. In 182o he wrote from Ravenna to Richard Belgrave Hoppner : " I am literary proof — having had good and evil said in most modern languages " ". And his Detached Thoughts of eighteen months later contain this entry : * I have been thinking over the other day on the various comparisons, good or evil, which I have seen published of myself in different journals English and foreign. This was suggested to me by accidentally turning over a foreign one lately ; for I have made it a rule latterly never to search for anything of the kind, but not to avoid the perusal if presented by Chance. To begin then — I have seen myself compared personally or poetically, in English, French, German (as interpreted to me), Italian, and Portuguese, within these nine years, to Rousseau — Goethe — Young— Aretino — Timon of Athens, " etc. *. Earlier in the same year (182 I) he had written to his friend Francis Hodgson : * There is but one of your tests which is not infallible : Translation. There are three or four French translations, and several German and Italian, which I have seen. Moore wrote to me from Paris months ago that * the French had caught the contagion of Byronism to the highest pitch ' and has written since to say that nothing was ever like their * entusymusy '... on the subject, even through the * slaver of a prose translation ': these are his words. The Paris translation is also very inferior to the Geneva one, which is very fair, although in prose also, so you see your test of * translatable or not ' is not so sound as could be wished. It is no pleasure, however, you may suppose, to be criticised through such a translation, or indeed through any ! ". Spain, it will be noted, is not mentioned by the poet among the foreign countries favoring him with critical COmment 4.
I. Letters and Journals, V, 34.
2. Ibid., V, 4o7-8.
3. Ibid., V, 282-3. 4. Medwin (Conversations of Lord Byron, London, 1824, page 198) reports the following remarks by the poet : « And yet', said he, they [his poems] have been translated into all the civilized, and many uncivilized tongues'. » But no mention is made of Spain in the list which follows. I. Die Aufnahme Lord Byrons in Deutschland, und sein Einfluss auf den jungen Heine, von Dr. Wilhelm Ochsenbein. Bern, Verlag von A. Francke. 19o5. For Italy I know of nothing better than Dr. Guido Muoni's La fama del Byron e il byronismo in Italia (Milano, Società Editrice Libraria, 19o3), which work, unfortunately, does not arouse one's complete confidence. For instance, when Dr. Muoni tells us that Byron visited Venice in 1786 (he was born in 1788), and that an Antologia Britannica, printed in Rome in 18Io, contained sixteen poems by Byron (before the publication of Childe Harold in 1812, Byron was hardly known in his own land, outside the circle of his friends), our faith in the accuracy of his statements and the completeness of his researches is shaken. Nor does the rest of the work tend to restore this wavering confidence. Such as they are, however, the statements in Dr. Muoni's book that interest the student of « beginnings » are as follows: – In 1817-8 the French translations of the Bibliothèque Universelle of Geneva came to the notice of Italian romantics. The first Italian translation of an entire poem was that of The Giaour, in 1818. (But the editor of Poetry, 19o4, vol. VII, page 55, note 2, says that an Italian translation of The Lanent of Tasso appeared in 1817). In 1318, also, says Muoni, appeared a prose version of Manfred by Silvio Pellico. In 1819 « L. C. » translated The Corsair. Interesting comment upon Byron is to be found in the letters of Silvio Pellico in the years 1816-1818; and he was early mentioned by Leopardi. 2. Georg Wilhelm Heinrich Haring (1798-1871) was a German novelist,
For the sake of whatever profit the comparative point of view may afford when we come to trace the course of Byronism in Spain, we may turn first to a consideration of the beginnings of the movement in the other great Continental nations. Of the first traces of Byronic influences in Germany Dr. Wilhelm Ochsenbein has written a careful study , from which we derive the following facts. In the years 1814-1815, after the reestablishment of free communication between England and the Continent, English books and English letters began to carry into Germany news of Scott and Byron, who were then in the first blush of glory; Willibald Alexis o (then sixteen years old) reports that they both at once aroused the enthusiasm of the reading public, Byron winning the larger number of admirers at first. Mention of the poet begins to be found in reviews soon thereafter, and in 1816 Goethe refers to him. In 1817 Elizabeth von Hohenhausen, an early admirer, translated part of The Corsair and sent it to the poet. About 1817 Goethe said, * Everybody is reading Byron " ; in 182o he added, " The originals [ofhis poetry] are in the hands of all educated people ". In Germany the reading world was already under romantic influences, hence Byron's poetry met with ready sympathy, not with the opposition which it at first encountered in France. There was of course some objection to Don Juan and Cain, but the unpopularity due to these works was entirely smothered by the enthusiasm aroused by the Greek affair. Knowledge of the Byronic originals up to 1818 came in through English travelers and editions, but in that year a German edition in English was published in Leipzig. Translations had begun with an anonymous version of The Corsair in 1816, which was followed by a partial rendering of Manfred in 1817. The Prisoner of Chillon appeared in a Swiss almanach in 1819. Between 182 I and 1828 there was published a version of Byron's complete works by thirteen authors. In 1821 appeared Heine's first published poems, in a volume which contained some translations from Byron, and original verse with Byronic traces in it. But France is the Continental nation that, for geographical, political, and intellectualreasons, had most to do with the beginnings ofByronism in Spain.Theinfluence ofLord Byron in France has been learnedly studied by M. Edmond Estève , upon whose authority we may presume to assert a few facts concerning the beginnings of the movement in that country. The appearance of Childe Harold was noticed in Paris in the last month of 1812, and the poem was reviewed, in a coldly classical fashion, in the Mercure Étranger of the following year. The Bride of Abydos was translated into French in 1816, being the earliest version of an entire poem made in that language. The Journal des Débats, during the year 1818, contained four important articles on Byron by Malte-Brun. The poet's complete works were published in English at Paris in 1818, and the first complete translation into French was begun in 1819. For about ten years after his apotheosis in 1824 he was the undisputed chief of the French romantics, and when his popularity was waning in the capital, the provinces took him up ; at Poitiers, for instance, admiration for him was at its height in 184o ", - a significant date, which should be kept in mind for Spain. But admiration is not always comprehension, either in France
who wrote under the pseudonym of Willibald Alexis. In 1823 he published an historical romance called HValladmor, « freely translated from the English of Sir Walter Scott with a preface by Willibald Alexis », which was so well imitated that it actually deceived Scott's admirers. I. Byron et le romantisme français, Paris, 19o7.
or in Spain. Sainte-Beuve speaks thus of the little versifiers who wrote odes on the occasion of the great British poet's death : " In general Byron has been but poorly praised. Of all these poets not one has understood him, because it has not occurred to one of them to study him " *. And a verdict altogether similar to Sainte-Beuve's was passed on the Spanish public some thirty years later. In the preface to an excellent Castilian translation of Byron's Manfred, published in the year 1861 , it is asserted that, while Lord Byron is the only English poet of the nineteenth century who has attained any great reputation in Spain, ** it is also true that this brilliant genius was not known and celebrated in Spain until our French neighbors
I. Byron et le romantisme français, Paris, 19o7, pp. 128 and 272.