Phoenix £7.95 (228pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Byron in Love, By Edna O' Brien
Friday 12 February 2010
Nearly 200 years after Byron's death, writers and dramatists are still in his thrall. Benjamin Markovitz's recent novel, A Quiet Adjustment, recreated the poet's brief marriage to Anabella Milbanke. Then last year came Rupert Everett's flirtatious televised homage, involving dressing up and stripping down. Edna O'Brien, a writer naturally drawn to matters romantic, says that her own interest was first whetted by a remark of Lady Blessington that he was "the most extraordinary and terrifying person [she had] ever met." That, and the fact that she likes the idea of "writers writing about other artists."
While O'Brien's succinct and readable account doesn't offer any radical reappraisal of the poet's life, her novelistic flair lends the well- rehearsed events a fresh drama. Part way through the book, the author is so transported by her story that she plunges recklessly into the present tense. Tellingly, the occasion is Byron's reunion with his half sister, Augusta Leigh, a woman who "seems to understand him as no previous woman had."
Not one to dawdle, having dealt with her subject's fractured childhood, O'Brien progresses post-haste to Byron's "Childe Harold" years and on to his miserable demise in a Greek swamp. Despite the book's contention that Byron is Everyman ("human, ambitious, erratic, generous, destructive, dazzling, dark and dissonant"), it's clear that history's most notorious poet and erotomane was mostly in love with himself and, at a pinch, his sister.
Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandalbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 4 Zayn Malik on Israel-Gaza: One Direction singer bombarded with Twitter death threats after posting #FreePalestine
- 5 'Hello mum, this is going to be hard for you to read ...'
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming August 2014
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Star Wars Episode 7: Simon Pegg hints at role
Guardians of the Galaxy - review: A superficial and half-hearted Marvel film
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >