Manfred, a Play of Language; or, Intimations of Mortality from Recollections of Erring Manhood

Bicentenary Symposium on Lord Byron’s Manfred
Keynote Address @ New York University
April 21, 2017

Manfred is a very strange work as Nietzsche, perhaps more than anyone, so well understood. Partly it’s strange because it’s a genre mashup, “A Dramatic Poem” that, like Goethe’s Faust, cultivates a medley of tones that constantly shift from grave and exacting reflection to satire and comedy. [1]  Like Oscar Wilde’s Salome, it is a work easier to illustrate than to stage, as Virgil Burnett’s wonderfully sly drawing for Manfred—done in the manner of Beardsley—shows.