From one of our greatest novelists comes this luminous portrait of the world’s first literary rock star.
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.
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
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >