Byron in Love
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Byron in Love

  • Paperback
By (author) Edna O'Brien

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BYRON IN LOVE - the nobility, arrogance and sheer theatre of Byron's life. Byron, more than any other poet, has come to personify the poet as rebel, imaginative and lawless, reaching beyond race, creed or frontier, his gigantic flaws redeemed by a magnetism and ultimately a heroism that by ending in tragedy raised it and him from the particular to the universal. Everything about Lord George Gordon Byron was a paradox - insider and outsider, beautiful and deformed, serious and facetious, profligate but on occasion miserly, and possessed of a fierce intelligence trapped forever in a child's magic and malices. He was also a great poet, but as he reminded us, poetry is a distinct faculty and has little to do with the individual life of its creator. Edna O'Brien's exemplary biography focuses upon the diverse and colourful women in Byron's life.

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  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 131 x 196 x 16mm | 200g
  • 21 Jan 2010
  • Orion Publishing Co
  • Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
  • London
  • Illustrations (some col.), ports. (some col.)
  • 0753826461
  • 9780753826461
  • 348,474

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Author Information

Edna O'Brien is the author of 19 books. She was the winner of the 1993 Writers Guild Prize for Fiction. Her biography of James Joyce was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in June 1999. Her recent fiction has been about Irish topics - religion, politics, property. In 2001 her documentary novel, In the Forest - about a brutal murder on the west coast - caused a furore in her native Ireland. It was the subject of a BBC Omnibus film.

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Review quote

her novelistic flair lends the well-rehearsed events a fresh drama -- Emma Hagestadt INDEPENDENT a funny and perceptive portrait of one of the most infmaous characters in literature HUDDERSFIELD DAILY EXAMINER Hugely readable, insightful and candid, this is a darkly fascinating portrait of a paradoxical genius. GOOD BOOK GUIDE

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Review text

A concise, humorous analysis of Lord Byron as archetypal lover and "embodiment of Everyman."Novelist O'Brien (The Light of Evening, 2006, etc.) revels in describing the excesses of the poet's larger-than-life personality. The precocious George Gordon Byron (1788 - 1824) was translating Horace at the age of six, read the entire Old Testament before he was eight and went on to attend Harrow and Cambridge. From an early age he assumed a hedonistic, profligate approach to life that unceasingly attracted both men and women. His early loves included the Earl of Clare at Harrow ("a love interrupted only by distance...he could never hear the word 'Clare' without a murmur of the heart"), Mary Chaworth back home during vacations and the "chiselled and beautiful" choirboy at Cambridge, John Edleston, in whose memory Byron wrote "Thryza," a series of elegies that disguised the subject's gender. O'Brien contends that Byron's continual need to be in love is what propelled his creative genius, allowing him to create the bawdy yet erudite poems "Don Juan" and "Childe Harold," which he composed while traveling through Greece and Turkey. Remarkable amorous conquests followed Byron's success - a swooning, hysterical Caroline Lamb, who stalked Byron once he broke off their relationship; Lady Frances, who Byron seduced in full view of her husband; and his half sister Augusta Leigh, with whom he could not desist from an incestuous love, and which led to his shaming and exile from England. All are described in delicious detail by O'Brien. The key architect of Byron's public infamy was Annabella Milbanke, the fastidious heiress who married Byron to find herself in a love triangle with Augusta. Once separated, she made it her life's mission to destroy his name. Byron sought respite in Italy, finding more lovers, including Countess Teresa Guiccioli, his muse for "Don Juan." He died at the age of 36, amid a "deathbed scene that many an artist would have painted...but only Rembrandt would have caught the fear and bewilderment in the eyes of those onlookers, all of whom venerated Byron but in their zeal and their helplessness differed as to what could or should be done."An apt rendering of the life of a charismatic man whose smile Coleridge compared to "the opening of the gate of Heaven. (Kirkus Reviews)

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