Thursday, May 6, 2010

Byronic Heros and Antiheros

I love REFDESK as my home page. Once, long ago, when I still respected Colin Powell, I read that he uses it as his home page. I figured that if a busy person such as he relied upon it, REFDESK was probably worthwhile.

And it is worthwhile, big time. Basically it’s a gateway to hundreds of other informational sites. You should just go take a look.

Tuesday’s gem on REFDESK is a section called “ARTICLE OF THE DAY: provided by The Free Dictionary” where the featured article was The Byronic Hero.

The Byronic hero is an idealized, but flawed character exemplified in the life and writings of Lord Byron, characterized by his ex-lover Lady Caroline Lamb as being "mad, bad and dangerous to know". The Byronic hero first appears in Byron's semi-autobiographical epic narrative poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812-18). The Byronic hero has the following characteristics:

--highly intelligent and perceptive

--cunning and adaptive

--often sophisticated and highly educated

--self-critical and introspective

--mysterious, magnetic and appealing

--struggles with integrity

--seductive and sexually attractive (sleeps with many women, claims them as his own, etc.)

--dominant: in sexual relationships and interaction with people

--conflicting emotions bipolar tendencies, or moodiness

--a distaste for social institutions and social norms

--being an exile, an outcast, or an outlaw

--has "dark" attributes not normally associated with heroes

--a lack of respect for rank and privilege

--a troubled past

--being cynical, demanding, and/or arrogant

--often self-destructive

--loner, often rejected from society

The Byronic hero is also featured in many different contemporary novels, and it is clear that Lord Byron's work continues to influence modern literature as the precursor of a commonly encountered type of anti-hero.
I'm clearly not a Byronic Hero…but it might be sorta fun!

Oh, the ultrarunning connection: I can’t think of a single ultrarunning acquaintance who embodies enough of these characteristics to say it’s a good fit. I guess we (mostly) tend to be more laid back.

And (for anyone still with me!), there seems to be a slight distinction between the Byronic hero and the antihero:

It has been argued that the continuing popularity of the anti-hero in modern literature and popular culture may be based on the recognition that a person is fraught with human frailties, unlike the archetypes of the white-hatted cowboy and the noble warrior, and is therefore more accessible to readers and viewers. This popularity may also be symptomatic of the rejection by the avant-garde of traditional values after the counter-culture revolution of the 1960s.

In the postmodern era, traditionally defined heroic qualities, akin to the classic "knight in shining armor" type, have given way to the "gritty truth" of life, and authority in general is being questioned.

So although I'm not a Byronic hero, looks like I could still qualify as an antihero.  Good thing, because I love Have Gun Will Travel (see my post on Paladin as an antihero, here).

Oh, and I still love trails.

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