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The History of Missed OpportunitiesBritish Romanticism and the Emergence of the Everyday$
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William H. Galperin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781503600195

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503600195.001.0001

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Don Juan and the Romantic Fragment

Don Juan and the Romantic Fragment

(p.131) 5 Don Juan and the Romantic Fragment
The History of Missed Opportunities

William H. Galperin

Stanford University Press

Along with the repetition of days that it mimes as an endless conversation, Don Juan is additionally representative in the way a missed opportunity (the Byron marriage) is recognized and honored by the poem’s form. The ever-unfolding poem amounts to a history that takes the form not of retrospection but of what might have been. Don Juan registers the gain, the “willingness for the everyday,” that marriage produces in practice, and in this case poetic practice, and “in the repetition of days” (Cavell) to which his poem conforms. As a relational do-over, whose ending, accordingly, was a parting unto death, the poem connects to fragment poems—a quintessentially romantic genre—by Coleridge and Shelley and to the tendency in Keats’s Odes to foreground a present that goes undocumented or is closed off by form.

Keywords:   infinite conversation, repetition, marriage, fragment, death of the author, Byron, Don Juan, poetry, form, romanticism

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