London: John Murray, 1812 (First and Second Cantos) -1816 (Third Canto) -1818 (Fourth Canto). Third edition (Cantos 1 & 2); First edition (Cantos 3 & 4). Hardcover. Octavo (8 1/4 x 5 1/4"). XII, 300pp (Vol. 1); 79, , XIV, 257, pp (Vol. 2). Contemporary 3/4 calf over marbled paper covered boards, with gold lettering and ruling to spines. Title page for each canto (except for Canto No. 2).
"Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" is a narrative poem in four parts (cantos) written by Lord Byron. Published between 1812 and 1818, the poem describes the travels and reflections of a young man who, disillusioned with a life of pleasure and debauchery, looks for distraction in foreign lands. In a wider sense, it is an expression of the melancholy and disillusionment felt by a generation tired of the wars of the post-Revolutionary and Napoleonic years. The title comes from the term childe, a medieval title for a young man who was a candidate for knighthood. The poem contains elements believed to be autobiographical, as Byron generated some of the storyline from experience gained during his travels through Portugal, the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea between 1809 and 1811.
It was the publication in 1812 of the first two Cantos of "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" that brought Lord Byron the success he needed to pay off his debts ("I awoke one morning and found myself famous"). Written in the nine-line stanza of Spenser's The Faerie Queene, this account of a young aristocrat's Grand Tour in Europe and the Middle East flirts self-consciously with an archaic genre, the Romance, or, as Byron subtitled his poem, 'Romaunt.' The poem also created the Romantic archetype known as the “Byronic hero.”
Bindings rubbed along spines and edges. The gilt-lettered title label of Vol. 2 detached, but present. Title label missing in first volume. Previous owner's Ex-Libris on inside of each front cover (John Shipdem). Moderate and sporadic foxing throughout. Bindings in overall good-, interior in good to very good condition. g- to vg. Item #41397