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The Giaour: A Fragment of a Turkish Tale

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The narrative poem is set in the time of Moslem rule. The story is narrated from three different points of view. It is a tale of love, revenge and repentance. Almost fragmentary, it is brimming with adventure and courage that leads a slave to fight a lord.


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The narrative poem is set in the time of Moslem rule. The story is narrated from three different points of view. It is a tale of love, revenge and repentance. Almost fragmentary, it is brimming with adventure and courage that leads a slave to fight a lord.

30 review for The Giaour: A Fragment of a Turkish Tale

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    This is such a dark and twisted poem that sees a Byronic hero in his full force. The hero is persecuted and haunted by his actions; he has become less they he once was. He has murdered a man in the name of justice, but he is full regret for such a brutal act. His soul is divided. He is full of melancholy and woe, but at the route of his being is a real awareness that he is himself responsible for his own state. Thus he surrounds himself in darkness. He is a figure both contemptable and pitiable. This is such a dark and twisted poem that sees a Byronic hero in his full force. The hero is persecuted and haunted by his actions; he has become less they he once was. He has murdered a man in the name of justice, but he is full regret for such a brutal act. His soul is divided. He is full of melancholy and woe, but at the route of his being is a real awareness that he is himself responsible for his own state. Thus he surrounds himself in darkness. He is a figure both contemptable and pitiable. His actions weren’t entirely terrible; he had good reason for them, but his reason doesn’t apply to the culture he exacted his justice on. He saw a culture that treated women terribly, and for reasons beyond their fathoming the harbinger was murdered for his way of life. This a conflicted situation because one culture’s sense of morality doesn’t necessarily apply to another regardless of the ethics involved. The Giaour sees what he perceives as injustice in an eastern society, and is forced to act. He sees Leila treated “as a soulless toy for a tyrant’s lust” and reaps vengeance on Hassan, the object of misogyny and brutality: her husband. The Anti- Hero becomes a figure of resistance towards the social order; it is not a case of simply protecting people, but standing against society itself. It is this act of rebellion, this act of reckless behaviour, which links the Byronic hero back to his origins: the Satanic hero in Milton’s spectacular Paradise Lost. After their indulgence in their passion, a division follows. This is later followed by remorse, the Giour gives up on life and is consumed by despair. As can be seen with the earlier descriptions of him in the fragmented narrative, the ones after he has committed murder; they depict an entirely different character. He is no longer passionate, but reduced. His sense of justice has been replaced with confusion and division. The scene in which the Giaour is seen on horseback is a suggestion of how haunted the character has become; it is at night with a general air of darkness and foreboding with the “shadows of the rock advancing.” The Giaour is persecuted by his memories, by his actions. The echoing of the hoof beats and the repeated sound of the dark waves suggests of memories constantly recurring, resulting in the look of “dread in his face” and his “fearful brow.” The environment reflects his troubled inner state. This is a great poem, so conflicted and delivered with real poetic mastery. More Byron for me in the future!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dany

    Read this one for an upcoming ARC read. Not sure if this book is the version I read , but , I spent hours on reading and researching for understanding this poem and some of the characters. Basically , there's this lady , Laila , who's killed by drowning in the sea by her husband , Hassan for cheating . Later , Hassan is killed by this Christian dude Giaour (which isn't his name. It's kind of a slur used by non - Christian's addressing Christians). He even sends Hassan's head to Hassan's mom. The p Read this one for an upcoming ARC read. Not sure if this book is the version I read , but , I spent hours on reading and researching for understanding this poem and some of the characters. Basically , there's this lady , Laila , who's killed by drowning in the sea by her husband , Hassan for cheating . Later , Hassan is killed by this Christian dude Giaour (which isn't his name. It's kind of a slur used by non - Christian's addressing Christians). He even sends Hassan's head to Hassan's mom. The poem symbolises the capture of Greece and the war between the West and the East. And as tale as old as time , the white dude kills a bunch of people , shown as a hero and then becomes a vampire due to his curse by Hassan's mom. He's apparently the first vampire in literature. Besides the gross lines indicating necrophilia and the vampirism , this is just another book romanticizing a poor lady's death by making it not about her . At all. Like , Leila doesn't have any lines in this poem! These dudes just fight off each other and she's just like some object with some dogs. In conclusion , if this book wasn't written in the 18 something years , this would've been bashed and banished . But luckily , it wasn't! I hear people actually get this as required read for college? This is the only moment I'm happy I don't have "English" as a subject in college. Thanks for reading my short and incompetent review guys! Happy reading.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Isa Cantos (Crónicas de una Merodeadora)

    Lo mío definitivamente no es la poesía porque a) no entiendo la mitad porque siempre se van por las ramas y b) me da sueño. Lo bueno de ese poema es que sobre el final empecé a entender de qué iba la historia y el papel del vampiro (giaour) en ella :).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brennan Humphreys

    sensationally dry!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Haneen Amireh

    I guess Lord Byron composed this poem to pester readers and this poem is so out of my sphere of interest. First and foremost, this is an orientalist poem, it is imbued with a colonial mentality and its entire description of things is basically eroticized, fetishizised and exoticised. I don’t mind approaching a text from a postcolonial scope but seriously, at least make it interesting to read. Lord Byron’s only exposure to the east was undoubtedly and unmistakably The Arabian Nights and Torquato I guess Lord Byron composed this poem to pester readers and this poem is so out of my sphere of interest. First and foremost, this is an orientalist poem, it is imbued with a colonial mentality and its entire description of things is basically eroticized, fetishizised and exoticised. I don’t mind approaching a text from a postcolonial scope but seriously, at least make it interesting to read. Lord Byron’s only exposure to the east was undoubtedly and unmistakably The Arabian Nights and Torquato Tasso’s poem Jerusalem Delivered. And the master-slave mentality is conspicuous in half of the lines. Plus, it’s soooo boring! Why did you have to drag it to 56 pages? I guess homeboy Byron was too lazy to write an imperialistic Novel, but again he was a poet. Or he wanted an orientalist version of a Byronic hero so yeah there you go, we have a Byronic hero who is imbued with a colonial mentality, sees an exotic concubine being thrown into the river by Muslims as a punishment for her infidelity, and he thankfully was there to save the day. We all know about the white savior complex, it’s here it’s here.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Selenita

    Innecesariamente largo y enrevesado el poema. Tiene partes que obedecen más al lucimiento del autor que a un propósito comunicativo real; además, su estructura es caótica. Y lo dice alguien a quien le gusta leer poesía y ha visto poemas que cuentan mucho más en menoes espacio y con un orden lógico. No obstante, lo que realmente me molesta es el machismo extremo: intentando que nos de pena un feminicida y que comprendamos que sus actos son lógicos. Además, la pobre mujer asesinada no es sino un o Innecesariamente largo y enrevesado el poema. Tiene partes que obedecen más al lucimiento del autor que a un propósito comunicativo real; además, su estructura es caótica. Y lo dice alguien a quien le gusta leer poesía y ha visto poemas que cuentan mucho más en menoes espacio y con un orden lógico. No obstante, lo que realmente me molesta es el machismo extremo: intentando que nos de pena un feminicida y que comprendamos que sus actos son lógicos. Además, la pobre mujer asesinada no es sino un objeto al servicio de la trama: ella no es importante como persona, lo importante es que su muerte es la causa de la venganza de su amante contra su dueño y los remordimientos posteriores y el dolor por haberla perdido. Los importantes son los hombres a su alrededor, lo que piensan y sienten; ya ni siquiera lo que ella pueda sentir, su misma vida y muerte, son irrelevantes. Como mujer ya estoy hasta las narices de que las historias de los hombres se apoyen sobre cadáveres de mujeres como mero instrumento narrativo, siendo estos y sus sentimientos más importantes que nuestras vidas.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Płotka

    8/10 Muszę przyznać, że "Giaur" całkiem pozytywnie mnie zaskoczył swoją niecodzienną formą, gdyż brak tutaj po spodziewanej przeze mnie liniowej akcji, jak to wcześniej bywało w powieściach poetyckich. Byron kreśli historię bardzo rozmyślnie poprzez dość nowatorską technikę luźno związanych ze sobą ustępów, które składają na konkretny obraz. Dzięki temu ta powieść poetycka nabiera rumieńców, oznaki ciągłej świeżości. Byron najpierw przedstawia nam miejsce akcji, czyli Grecję władaną przez Turków, 8/10 Muszę przyznać, że "Giaur" całkiem pozytywnie mnie zaskoczył swoją niecodzienną formą, gdyż brak tutaj po spodziewanej przeze mnie liniowej akcji, jak to wcześniej bywało w powieściach poetyckich. Byron kreśli historię bardzo rozmyślnie poprzez dość nowatorską technikę luźno związanych ze sobą ustępów, które składają na konkretny obraz. Dzięki temu ta powieść poetycka nabiera rumieńców, oznaki ciągłej świeżości. Byron najpierw przedstawia nam miejsce akcji, czyli Grecję władaną przez Turków, która w bardzo przyjemnym przekładzie Mickiewicza nabiera podobieństwa Polski pod zaborami. Dawniej kolebka cywilizacji, teraz kraina dzika i zniewolona przez równie dzikich najeźdźców. Potem widzimy bohatera, Giaura, o którym dowiadujemy się niewiele poza tym, że jest Wenecjaninem. Angielski poeta obrazowo kreuje bohatera - widzimy najpierw statek, przed którym pierzchają rybacy. A potem pędzącego jeźdźca po polach, skałach i bezdrożach, a na jego twarzy maluje się determinacja. Kim jest? Skąd przybywa? Dokąd zmierza? Co planuje? Jeszcze nie wiemy. W następnym ustępie Byron opisuje Turków wrzucających do wody pewien pakunek. Pakunek, który się ruszał. Co w nim było? Czy kogoś topią? Dalej przedstawiony nam zostaje gniewny Hassan, którego nawet własny harem nie potrafi go pocieszyć. Dlaczego jest taki rozgniewany? Co go trapi? I tak dalej, i tak dalej. Kolejne ustępy odsłaniają przed nami kolejne fakty, niczym w naprawdę dobrze napisanej współczesnej powieści. Historia koniec końców jest całkiem prosta i dość zwyczajna, ale jest obdarzona naprawdę gęstym klimatem byronowskiej tajemniczości, a talent angielskiego poety do snucia opowieści jest naprawdę widoczny jak w mało którym dziele epoki romantyzmu.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jagoda

    czytałam do szkoły

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ahona Das

    Cursing my MPhil reading list while simultaneously appreciating some lines that are extremely beautiful

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Enright

    I don’t have the energy to say something interesting, so I’ll just repeat my least favorite in-class response to a reading: I didn’t like it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    I enjoyed the first of the so-called Turkish tales that Byron wrote. Good storytelling and pacing. I also enjoyed reading a note of his about the Muslim call to prayer. He writes that it is "solemn and beautiful beyond all the bells of Christendom" (p. 21). I felt the same way when I heard it in Morocco. I enjoyed the first of the so-called Turkish tales that Byron wrote. Good storytelling and pacing. I also enjoyed reading a note of his about the Muslim call to prayer. He writes that it is "solemn and beautiful beyond all the bells of Christendom" (p. 21). I felt the same way when I heard it in Morocco.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Byron's prowess in overdrive. Read this poem not for its narrative (which is virtually drowned by the poetry), but for its stunning lyricism. Byron's prowess in overdrive. Read this poem not for its narrative (which is virtually drowned by the poetry), but for its stunning lyricism.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ira Bespalova

    A heartbreaking story about love, true feelings and vengeance. Worth reading!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    An Orientalist spin on the lays of Walter Scott, Byron's Giaour is a taut little narrative, certainly compared to the sprawling Childe Harold. A "giaour", as Byron himself tells us, is an infidel, and this poem a tale of passion and vengeance in the Orient with apostasy against Islam as a running theme. Byron has little interest in theology as such, but, like many contemporaries, was clearly drawn to the Orient as a site of emotional intensity. Religion is of interest mainly as a catalyst to fer An Orientalist spin on the lays of Walter Scott, Byron's Giaour is a taut little narrative, certainly compared to the sprawling Childe Harold. A "giaour", as Byron himself tells us, is an infidel, and this poem a tale of passion and vengeance in the Orient with apostasy against Islam as a running theme. Byron has little interest in theology as such, but, like many contemporaries, was clearly drawn to the Orient as a site of emotional intensity. Religion is of interest mainly as a catalyst to fervor. One might also say there is a kind of verfremdungseffekt, a critical distancing of Byron's too-intimate interior drama by setting it amidst the Ottomites, that makes it somewhat less cloying, and easier to see. In this, The Giaour recalls Chateaubriand's Rene, where a similar intensity of personal feeling plays out amidst religious zealotry beyond the reach of Western civilization. Indeed, it is the removal from the West that sets Western inferiority free. The not-yet-colonized landscape of the Other serves as a liberty, an extra-jurisdictional periphery for Western individualism. Again, pace Said, Byron is not looking for his Orient to be brought under Western control-- it's special value for him (and it is most certainly a value FOR HIM) lies precisely in its being beyond such control.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    This is a TEN star poem!!! When I started to read the very first lines of the Giaour (and that was the first time I had ever read Byron´s poetry), I was so overwhelmed by the great beauty and the lovely sound and symmetry of his lines that my heart could not take more emotion and I had to stop for some minutes in order to be able to "digest" the beauty and the perfection of the first lines. I worship this poem, I worship everyting Lord Byron has ever written and I must tell you that this poem is This is a TEN star poem!!! When I started to read the very first lines of the Giaour (and that was the first time I had ever read Byron´s poetry), I was so overwhelmed by the great beauty and the lovely sound and symmetry of his lines that my heart could not take more emotion and I had to stop for some minutes in order to be able to "digest" the beauty and the perfection of the first lines. I worship this poem, I worship everyting Lord Byron has ever written and I must tell you that this poem is something that you have to read before you leave this life. This is poetry you will never-ever forget. This is the poem of a genius. This is a very tragic love story, told from three different perspectives. Many years may pass; I may forget the details of the poem, but I will never-ever forget the eternal impact and impression it left in my heart. This is a treasure, it is not a simple poem. And the man who wrote it, I repeat that he was a genius, the god of poetry.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Fay Min

    I have a love- hate relationship with this. The first times I read it I didn't like it. But the second time around I actually really enjoyed it. It definitely is confusing and it is something you need to read a couple of times to understand it. I have a love- hate relationship with this. The first times I read it I didn't like it. But the second time around I actually really enjoyed it. It definitely is confusing and it is something you need to read a couple of times to understand it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    irene

    ok... (si no fuera por la explicación al comienzo, lo habría detestado un poco)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alex Castro

    Divertido, empolgante, como tudo que Byron escreve. Não é das melhores obras dele, mas é melhor do que quase toda a poesia da época. É o primeiro dos seus "contos orientais". Divertido, empolgante, como tudo que Byron escreve. Não é das melhores obras dele, mas é melhor do que quase toda a poesia da época. É o primeiro dos seus "contos orientais".

  19. 4 out of 5

    kenli

    uhhhhh... i literally have no idea what i just read, but i didn't like it lmao uhhhhh... i literally have no idea what i just read, but i didn't like it lmao

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michela Deja

    3,5 ⭐

  21. 4 out of 5

    Connor Wallace

    Great story, evocatively and engagingly told. Initially I found it hard to understand which fragments dealt with which character, but it didn’t detract too much from the overall experience.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wojtek Konieczny

    7/10

  23. 4 out of 5

    olive tree

    3.5 An enjoyable, visually vivid and lyrically shining poem with quick pacing, engaging storytelling and unproblematic language, starring passion, remorse and despair. I had a good time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    alliah (paintingpages)

    read for my romantic period course. it’s a long fragmented poem and was a tough read for me, and will definitely have to reread and get to know more in order for me to rate it

  25. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Bv

    Buscaba otra cosa, no me ha gustado.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sergio Mora

    Una desoladora historia que refleja el Oriente y el Occidente a través del desamor, el odio y la venganza.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Addie Macioce

    3.5

  28. 5 out of 5

    Axel

    George Byron mastered verse novel to perfection. His characters are the quintessences of a romantic period: lonely individualists, rebells against the commonly accepted schemes, adamant, mysterious, rejected by society. Giaour is a character who, despite his sins, awakens in us sympathy for him and his tragic fate. The Giaour, also, shows romantic fascination of orientalism: Byron wrote it in 1813, right after his journey, which included Greece (then occupied by Turkey). Due to Byron engagement i George Byron mastered verse novel to perfection. His characters are the quintessences of a romantic period: lonely individualists, rebells against the commonly accepted schemes, adamant, mysterious, rejected by society. Giaour is a character who, despite his sins, awakens in us sympathy for him and his tragic fate. The Giaour, also, shows romantic fascination of orientalism: Byron wrote it in 1813, right after his journey, which included Greece (then occupied by Turkey). Due to Byron engagement in the independence war in Greece in 1820s, some people find Leila as a personification of Greece and, wider, independence. Of course, in same parts, The Giaour isn't an easy read. For example, we have a time inversion. But, we need to remember this verse novel was written over 200 years ago. Nevertheless, this is still a great piece of art and quintessence of romantic literature.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ben Dutton

    When he was joined by his friends Percy Bysshe Shelley and his lover Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Mary Shelley), in Switzerland, they discussed galvanism, and the reconstitution of human flesh, and they read German ghost stories, and then Lord Bryon suggested they write their own tales of the macabre. Out of this one meeting Mary Shelley produced Frankenstein, and Byron produced this, a short fragment of a proposed story, one that would help give birth to the romantic vampire myth. Like Shel When he was joined by his friends Percy Bysshe Shelley and his lover Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Mary Shelley), in Switzerland, they discussed galvanism, and the reconstitution of human flesh, and they read German ghost stories, and then Lord Bryon suggested they write their own tales of the macabre. Out of this one meeting Mary Shelley produced Frankenstein, and Byron produced this, a short fragment of a proposed story, one that would help give birth to the romantic vampire myth. Like Shelley’s famous novel this fragment is in epistolary form, recounted the events that have happened on a grand tour to the east with Augustus Darvell. When Darvell falls ill, they arrive at a Turkish cemetery between Smyrna and Ephesus near the columns of Diana. A stork lands on a gravestone, a snake in its mouth. When Darvell dies, his body rapidly decomposes, and is buried. Between astonishment and grief, the writer is tearless. Bryon’s brief fragment oozes menace. There is a hallucinatory quality to the journey east, and Darvell’s death and sudden decomposition hint at macabre terrors yet to come. Bryon, however, does not finish his story, and one can only guess at what was to come. However, one Dr John Polidori, who was Byron’s personal physician, and was on this holiday in Switzerland, was enamoured with Bryon’s style, and with his fragment of a story, and he reworked it into the first vampire tale in English. The idea for the fragment had come to Bryon through the vampire myths he had heard on his travels in Balkans, and it is most likely that Bryon told Polidori that this is where is fragment would have gone, with the reanimation of Darvell’s corpse. When Polidori’s story was published, it was attributed by all to Bryon, not Polidori, and the confusion reigned for some time. Bryon stated clearly he was not the author, but none would listen. ‘A Fragment’, then, is fascinating as the progenitor of something much more influential. The text of this story never meant to be published, but following the claims that he was the author of Polidori’s tale, Bryon published a fragment at the end of the first edition of his poem, Mazeppa, in 1819, to help reinstate his friends’ name as the author of The Vampyre: A Tale.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    Written during the same mediterranean excursion that birthed Childe Harold, one would not be reproached for reading "The Giaour" the same way he reads "Childe Harold"—that is to say, reading it as Byron writing about (who else but) himself. Though he denied the pseudonymity of Harold until the fourth canto (and, like, didn't fool anyone), Byron never really gave a say on whether or not he was pseudonymously writing about himself with Hassan, the protagonist of this poem. One wonders, though, who Written during the same mediterranean excursion that birthed Childe Harold, one would not be reproached for reading "The Giaour" the same way he reads "Childe Harold"—that is to say, reading it as Byron writing about (who else but) himself. Though he denied the pseudonymity of Harold until the fourth canto (and, like, didn't fool anyone), Byron never really gave a say on whether or not he was pseudonymously writing about himself with Hassan, the protagonist of this poem. One wonders, though, who else the poet could be describing when he poeticizes the anti-hero: "Dark and unearthly is the scowl / that glares beneath his dusty cowl." Unlike Harold, which exposes a mostly melancholic character, Hassan is either brooding or kicking ass: there's little room for anything to go in between (though somehow Byron crams in incredible scenes of Turkish battles, star-studded night skies, tales of murder, and a few stanzas about vampires—you know, like, back when they were actually cool).

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