What is the signficance of Lord Byron?
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I think that Byron is a significant inclusion in Coetzee's work. One might be able to take it from political and literary points of view. If we examine Byron from a literary point of view, perhaps Lurie's fascination with him is driven by a desire to be like him. The mystique of Byron is a large reason as to why he is included in the Romantic movement and occupies a large place in the thought pattern of Romanticism. Byron lived out his own subjectivity without any regards for others. He was, as most Romantics were, self absorbed. He believed himself to be a lover of women, and played to the idea that he was adored by them. Simply put, Byron loved to make women swoon. He was admired for that. People spoke of his exploits in a complimentary and laudatory fashion. Yet, there were indications that Byron was not the "ladies man" as he might have appeared to be. There were many claims of his affairs with men as well as with a half sister. The basic premise is that what might have been cast for all to see could have been illusory, masking a certain sense of sadness or weakness present. Such a description could be made to David, as well. From a political point of view, the Byron subject could be a metaphor for the changing social reality that brings question to him. If Byron carried on like he did in the modern setting, there is much to indicate that he would not be praised, but rather reviled. In a changing social dynamic where women's rights and sense of identity is much more refined and understood now then during Byron's time, he becomes an antiquated notion of how things are. When Byron was called, "mad, bad, and dangerous to know," it was seen as almost a type of panache, a warning to bring to light his reputation that was whispered in salacious gossip. Now, Byron would be hit with assault charge followed by sexual abuse charge. Byron reflects the changing social dynamic, something that David might resemble in his relationship with a changing South Africa. In this realm, like women in Byron's case, Africans are no longer subservient, but rather active voices in carving out their own destiny. The manner in which David deals with this change could be seen as reminiscent as how Byron might have addressed the change with women.
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