×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life
  • Alternative view 1 of Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life
  • Alternative view 2 of Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life
     

Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life

by Edna O'Brien
 

See All Formats & Editions

From one of our greatest novelists comes this luminous portrait of the world’s first literary rock star.
Acclaimed biographer of James Joyce Edna O’Brien has written an intimate biography that suits her fiery and charismatic subject. She follows Byron from the dissipations of Regency London to the wilds of Albania and the Socratic pleasures of Greece

Overview

From one of our greatest novelists comes this luminous portrait of the world’s first literary rock star.
Acclaimed biographer of James Joyce Edna O’Brien has written an intimate biography that suits her fiery and charismatic subject. She follows Byron from the dissipations of Regency London to the wilds of Albania and the Socratic pleasures of Greece and Turkey, culminating in his meteoric rise to fame at the age of twenty-four on the publication of Childe Harold. With her prismatic eye and novelistic style, O’Brien eerily captures the spirit of the man and creates an indelible portrait of Byron that explodes the Romantic myth. From his escapades with John Edleston, the fourteen-year-old Cambridge choir boy, to those with a galaxy of women that included his half-sister, his wife of one year, and the Italian countess who forsook her satyr-like husband for “the peer of England and its greatest poet,” Byron scandalized the world and inspires “Byronmania” to this day. Byron, as brilliantly rendered by O’Brien, is the poet as rebel, imaginative and lawless, and defiantly immortal.

Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
In this jaunty biography, O'Brien eschews considerations of Byron's poetry to examine his amorous adventures, offering her reader the kind of fabulous anecdotes that made the poet a celebrity throughout Europe.
Publishers Weekly

Celebrated novelist and biographer O'Brien (The Country Girls trilogy) is a keen cicerone to the strange and insatiable love life of "the lame poet with the features of Adonis." Drawing on Marchand's three-volume biography of Lord Byron, while adding to this her immersion in letters and journals, O'Brien presents a figure we can see all-around. With a perennial worry about his weight, not to mention his right clubfoot, Byron, O'Brien says, compensated by indulging in homosexual relationships, most notably with John Edleston, and heterosexual trysts. Indeed, Byron always seemed to be in love and on the run, traversing Europe from Spain and Portugal to Albania and Greece. His travels and his loves inspired Manfred, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and, above all, Don Juan.Of interest as well are Byron's hot-and-cold relations with publisher John Murray, the Shelleys (who were largely appalled by Byron's lifestyle) and Dr. Polidori, whose novel on "the vampyre" would inspire an industry. At times a bit breathless, this compact life sets the emotional background for a poet who today is more famous for his life story than his work. 8 pages of illus. (June 15)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

O'Brien, best known for her stories and novels exploring the condition of women in male-dominated societies (e.g., The Light of Evening; The House of Splendid Isolation), was, perhaps unsurprisingly, "immediately drawn to" Byron. For this biography, she "immersed [her]self in the miraculous tomes of his letters and journals" in order to follow the man on his journey through love and his brief life. Certainly, she has written an accessible account of the famous poet's life, though it is more of a biography on the level of secondary school-aged readers than a scholarly work. Considering the thousands of available works on the life and writings of Byron, libraries with literature collections would be happier with Benita Eisler's Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame or Leslie A. Marchand's Byron and Byron: A Portrait. For libraries interested in Byron's correspondence, Andrew Nicholson's The Letters of John Murray to Lord Byron would be a better bet. Worth considering for public and secondary school libraries; optional for academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ2/1/09.]
—Felicity D. Walsh

Kirkus Reviews
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."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393070118
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
06/15/2009
Pages:
228
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Edna O’Brien, the author of The Country Girls Trilogy, The Light of Evening and Byron in Love, is the recipient of the James Joyce Ulysses Medal and an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in London.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews