chapter  64
4 Pages

Paul Elmer More on Byron’s classicism

1898

Paul Elmer More, the American philosopher and critic, and exponent of the New Humanism, wrote on 'The Wholesome Revival of Lord Byron' in the Atlantic Monthly for December 1898. The classicism which he praises in Byron involves 'a certain predominance of the intellect over the emotions', a consequent 'simplicity and tangibility of general design', an interest in humanity rather than nature, and a concentration on 'the simple elemental passions' leading to 'an art which depends on broad effects instead of subtle and vague impressions'. The classical metaphor is simple and intellectual; through its means the vague is fixed and presented clearly to the mind by comparison with the more definite, the complex by comparison with the simple, the abstract with the concrete, the emotional with the sensuous. At bottom Byron's sympathy is not with nature, but with man, and in the expression of this sympathy he displays the sturdy strength of classic art.