On this day (or thereabouts) The Byron Journal completes its fortieth year. It is an anniversary that coincides with the series of bicentenaries that the world of Byron Studies has witnessed over the past twelve months. From the Earl of Lytton’s reading of Byron’s ‘maiden speech’ at the House of Lords, to the Spring conference celebrating the publication of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage at DePaul University and the recent Symposium on the theme of ‘Byron and 1812’ at the Kingsway Hall Hotel in London (a report of the event will feature in issue 41.1), there is no getting away from the fact that this is a hugely exciting time to be a Byronist. It is evidently a hugely exciting time to edit The Byron Journal too. I hope that the present issue – which is my first – continues to follow the high scholarly standard of its predecessors and that it captures just some of the spirit of enthusiasm for the life and work of Byron that has been so evident of late.
Byron was always attentive to anniversaries. With this in mind I hope you will find much of interest in the first essay here, which is a specially commissioned piece in which Bernard Beatty reflects on the journal’s first forty years, setting its achievements in the context of the personalities which formed it and the larger history of academic professionalism. The following four essays demonstrate the variety and vitality invoked above, while also, I think, exhibiting those special Byronic continuities wherein differences disclose similarities. Adam White examines afresh the relationship between Byron and John Clare, looking particularly at their shared dramatic lyricism. Alan Rawes looks at Byron’s Calvinism and its formative place in European Romanticism, particularly the work of Pushkin. Emily Paterson-Morgan finds a new source for Byron’s understanding of dualism in his reading at the monastery of San Lazaro and a previously untranslated diary belonging to Byron’s Armenian tutor. Elham Nilchian follows Byron’s use of Persian motifs in the Oriental tales and explores the resonances of love-sickness as an alternative to Weltschmerz in Byron’s heroines.
As usual the journal also showcases a Reviews section of the recent publications on Byron and a number of others about Romanticism that abut onto Byron Studies. The conference reports are one of the best indications of what is happening now in Byron Studies and there are four here, including the report of the 38th International Conference in Lebanon, underlining just how eventful a year 2012 has been. This is evidenced too by the society reports from the Byron Society of America, the French Byron Society, the Japanese Byron Society, the Russian Byron Society and the Newstead Abbey Byron Society.
Within such manifest energy and endeavour there is, however, a note of sadness. The cover of this issue will already have alerted you to the fact that the Byron world is mourning one of its most affable, shrewd and well-respected figures, Derek Wise. As [End Page v] a mark of respect to Derek this issue begins with a full obituary written by Geoffrey Bond, who looks back at Derek’s life and work in relation to Byron and beyond.
I want to thank Kenneth Robbie and the Editorial Board for the invitation to take up the position of editor, the Advisory Editors for their priceless knowledge and those at Liverpool University Press for their hard work. I would also like to give special thanks to outgoing editor Dr Alan Rawes for his time, advice and all-round generosity (not to mention his skill as an editor). As all readers of the journal over the last seven years will attest, he’s going to be a hard act to follow. [End Page vi]