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  • The Giaour

  • By: Lord Byron
  • Narrated by: Rob Goll
  • Length: 1 hr and 6 mins
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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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.

Public Domain (P)2021 Rob Goll

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  • Andi
  • 31-01-21

A Work of Stunning Beauty

From the moment I began listening, the world disappeared.
Byron's "The Giaour" is a work of stunning beauty. A tale of love, revenge, the clash of cultures, and religious reconciliation, wrapped in language so beautiful and sublime, I was forced at times to stop listening and marvel at what I had just heard.
This narrative poem tells of Leila, a member of her master Hassan's harem, who loves the giaour. For loving the giaour, she is killed by Hassan by being drowned in the sea. In revenge, the giaour kills Hassan. Remorseful he enters a monastery. Even as he rejects the traditions of the monks around him, his devotion to his dead love takes on the characteristics of its own religiousness. The tale also shows the differences in Christian and Muslim views of love and the afterlife with references to the undead and vampirism. Byron's poem, in my opinion, is poetry at its most transcendent.
Rob Goll's reading is brilliant. The poem is told by different narrators and Goll effectively interprets each. It is a moving, emotional reading worthy of the soaring beauty of Byron's words. I highly recommend this audio version of Lord Byron's "The Giaour".

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