'The Fever of Vain Longing': Emotions of War in Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto III

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


This essay deals with Byron's visit to the field of Waterloo as described in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto III. I will suggest that the Canto sees the transformation of the Byronic hero into the man of feeling. Byron re-configures this eighteenth-century character type in a way that his personal grief becomes inseparable from collective feeling and national concerns. The deployment of the man of feeling becomes for Byron a political statement: an aid for the articulation of his disappointment in post-Waterloo European politics and a longing for lost Revolutionary ideals. Through the analysis of the Canto's main organising tropes I will be arguing that Byron's ambivalent perspective on the outcome of Waterloo is the reason for the restless oscillation of conflicting forces in the poem. The essay will re-read Stanza 33's broken mirror simile in the context of eighteenth-century notions of sensibility and sympathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-98
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Early online date1 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


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