Byron : life and legend /
Fiona MacCarthy.
1st American ed.
New York, N.Y. : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.
xiv, 674 p., [32] p. of plates : ill. (chiefly col.)
More Details
New York, N.Y. : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 576-637) and index.
A Look Inside
This item was nominated for the following awards:
New York Times Notable Books of the Year, USA, 2003 : Won
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2002-12-01:
Beginning with his childhood and the sexual abuse that he likely suffered in the care of his nurse, MacCarthy (William Morris: A Life for Our Time) here offers an evenhanded portrait of the legendary Byron. She chronicles a life filled with tempestuous relationships (John Hobhouse, John Murray, and Percy Bysshe Shelley) and affairs (Lady Caroline Lamb, Claire Clairmont, and Countess Teresa Guiccioli) and documents how Byron's appreciation of the East during his early travels through Greece and Turkey influenced both his life and his writing. The dissolution of his abusive marriage amid rumors of sodomy and incest led to Byron's self-imposed exile in Switzerland, Italy, and, finally, Greece, where he died contributing to the fight for Greek independence. Throughout, MacCarthy maintains an objectivity that is remarkable given the powerful emotions her passionate, troubled subject tends to evoke. Following on the heels of David Crane's The Kindness of Sisters: Annabella Milbanke and the Destruction of the Byrons, this work is first-rate, offering a detailed account while refusing to judge its subject. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.-William D. Walsh, Chester Coll. of New England, Manchester, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2002-10-07:
While biographies of Byron have appeared with regularity since his death in 1824 at age 36, British author MacCarthy's (William Morris: A Life for Our Time) engrossing, coolly perceptive study of the Romantic poet is notable for its refusal to swoon over Byron's legend while still attuned to the evolution of his powerful personality and its impact on the world of art and literature. She notes how Byron went from being a mediocre student mocked by other boys to a charismatic leader of his peers and an extraordinarily well-read young man (though he read in secret, "to keep up his pose of anti-authoritarian idler"). She discusses how carefully he had to suppress his homosexual impulses in an increasingly conservative England, and how crucial his 1809-1810 travels in Greece and Turkey were to not only Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, but to his own life. The familiar arc of his fame covers an abortive career in English politics and a disastrous marriage (rent with rumors of incest with his half-sister), and the years of his exile in Switzerland, Italy and Greece, during which, MacCarthy argues, he introduced England to Europe and vice versa. She considers his poetry; his influence on English and European writers from Victor Hugo to Charlotte Bront; and the cult of Byron that developed after his death. If her dispassionate approach succeeds more in describing his fascinating, contradictory character than penetrating his psychology, she nonetheless gracefully shows how the "life" and "legend" of the subtitle fed off each other. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, October 2002
Publishers Weekly, October 2002
Library Journal, December 2002
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