The Giaour by Lord Byron

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Publisher's Summary

The Giaour - A Fragment of a Turkish Tale is a narrative poem published in 1813. During that year, numerous versions were published, each successively longer than the last, before arriving at this final version of 1,334 lines.

The poem is the first in the series of Byron's Oriental Romances, the first four of which are generally referred to as "Turkish Tales" - the other three poems being "The Bride of Abydos" (1813), "The Corsair" (1814), and "Lara" (1814).

"Giaour" is a derogatory Turkish word for infidel or non-believer. The Giaour of the poem is a true Byronic Hero, a character type described by Lord Macaulay as "a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection".

The story is of a female slave, Leila, who loves the Giaour and is in consequence bound, thrown in a sack, and drowned in the sea by her Turkish lord, Hassan. In revenge the Giaour kills Hassan, then in grief and remorse banishes himself to a monastery.

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