`Alas! the love of women! it is known/ To be a lovely and fearful thing!' Don Juan, II. 199 Traditionally seen as an archetypal masculine poet, better known for his relationships with women than for the sympathetic study of them, Lord Byron has not lent himself easily to a feminist critique hitherto. In this, the first such example, Caroline Franklin takes an original and polemical standpoint, reading Byron within the
setting of the contemporary debate on the nature, role, and rights of women in society. The heroines of Byron's narrative and dramatic verse are considered, not from a biographical perspective, but by relating these
representations to ideologies of sexual difference which obtained in the poet's day. Viewed in their literary-historical context, these Byronic heroines are compared with other female protagonists of the age, thereby revealing the poet to be unusually honest and bold in his portrayal of female sexuality and its relation to political issues. Drawing upon original research materials, yron's Heroines presents the poet in a fresh and original context as well
as making an important contribution to the debate regarding the representation of women in early nineteenth-century society.
`Central to her excellent book Byron's Heroines is the contention that critics have allowed an obsession with the Byronic hero to blind them to his distinctive treatment of female characters. Byron's Heroines is a significant addition to Byron studies, and to our understanding of the ideologies of sexual difference in his time. Original and informed ... She cares about the poems themselves as well as the issues, and writes perceptively about both.
The New York Review
`This is a fascinating book which has been exhaustively researched ... it is a study long overdue, and one which admirably redresses the balance in its concern to centralize the Byronic heroine.
John Gilroy, The Byron Journal, 1993
`detailed and fascinating, and forms an excellent extension to the growing collection of politicising studies of Byron
`Franklin's study shows wide-ranging knowledge of both Byron scholarship and feminist criticism. To a synthesis of this essential background she adds an impressive array of fresh insights ... her perceptive commentaries reach well beyond the characters themselves to illuminate the works in which they appear. In fine, Franklin has provided a sound feminist critique in language that even the uninitiated can understand.
Frederick L. Beaty, Indiana University, Nineteenth Century Literature
`Though a professed feminist, Caroline Franklin was well advised to avoid the cruder polemical assumptions of present-day feminism and to write a historicist study in the best tradition of - both male-authored and female-authored - ideengeschichte. Caroline Franklin examines each of Byron's female protagonists separately ... Each analysis is clear and solid.
Rolf P. Lessenich, Archiv, 230 Band, 145.Jayrgang, 1.Halbjahresband 1993
`highly original book ... Although this is a fairly technical study, advanced readers interested in Byron's representations of women in the early 19th century will find this book a worthy endeavour.
M.S. Johnston, Mankato State University, Choice, Apr '93
`Franklin's study shows wide-ranging knowledge of both Byron scholarship and feminist criticism. To a synthesis of this essential background she adds an impressive array of fresh insights ... One of her outstanding achievements lies in demonstrating how Byron's implied responses to "the woman question" differ from or agree with the express positions of others of his day ... her perceptive commentaries reach well beyond the characters themselves to
illuminate the works in whch they appear. In fine, Franklin has provided a sound feminist critique in language that even the uninitiated can understand.
Frederick L. Beaty, Indiana University, Nineteenth-Century Literature, 48:2, (September 1993)
`The depth and range of Franklin's study of Byron's sexual politics in these works is impressive. Byron's Heroines is provocative. The historical aspect of Franklin's work is detailed and fascinating, and forms an excellent extension to the growing collection of politicising studies of Byron.
Jennifer Wallace, The Cambridge Qaurterly, 22 (1993)
`Byron has a celebration all his own: in Caroline Franklin's Byron's Heroines ... a real, live, flaming feminist rallies to his cause.
Times Educational Supplement
`This is a most valuable contribution to both Byron criticism and the methodology of historicism ... Franklin offers her most fascinating analysis of the ongoing debate in a detailed exposition of the Vicomte J.A.P. Segur's Women: Their Condition and Influence in Society, London, 1803, and the voluminous treatise, History of the Female Sex by the prominent Gottingen philosopher Christoph
Meiners, in the English translation of 1808.'
`Caroline Franklin's book is attractive...She sets out clearly what she intends to do...Franklin is...very well informed, lucid, and unpretentious; she discloses her working assumptions and carries the reader with her.'
RES New Series XLVII 185
`Byron's Heroines has combined an intellectual history of gender in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with a new look at Byron as a writer of considerable learning, imagination, and scope. ... Byronists and feminists will read this good book - yet its chief audience ought to be those who still question Byron's standing as a great writer and his contribution to that fallible composite that we call Western humanism.'
Studies in Romanticism, January 1997