I’ve always had a bit of thing for Lord Byron, being attracted to his bad boy image no doubt. Come to think of it I’ve always been attracted to bad boys; they seemed to have more fun than good boys. When I was a young thing, I used to divide the young males of my acquaintance into cads and sinceres. Not surprisingly I liked the cads best and generally hung out with them.
Anyway back to the topic in hand…
At a loss for something to read a couple of weekends ago, I idly picked up The Memoirs of Lord Byron (1989) by Robert Nye. It proved to be an engrossing read, an interesting fictional version of Byron’s memoirs, which stuck to the facts and was written in a voice I imagine is pretty close to Byron’s own. Byron did indeed write his memoirs, but the manuscript was burned after his death, it being too sensational in content to publish, and to protect the innocent still living.
There have been other fictions featuring Lord Byron, notably John Crowley’s 2005 novel, Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land , a book that very wonderfully imagines the rediscovery of a lost manuscript of Byron’s, a novel titled The Evening Land.
Another is Conversations with Lord Byron on perversion, 163 years after His Lordship’s death (1987) by Amanda Prantera. In this novel a computer program has created a virtual identity for Lord Byron, and the story revolves around the interaction of the Byron expert hired to test the program, and the virtual Byron. A novel with a great deal of charm, it primarily deals with Byron’s relationship with the choir boy John Edleston and posits an alternative version of the story of this friendship.
Anyway, my musing on Lord Byron has to do with his celebrity status. He is of course known as the first person to attract a cult following and become a celebrity; based on his reputation for being extravagant, melancholy, courageous, unconventional, eccentric, flamboyant and controversial.
With a reputation like that he wouldn’t really be out of place in the modern world. I can think of many modern celebrities who share the same characteristics, Ryan Adams for one – the description above would suit him to a T.
On the subject of books I have just ordered the new A S Byatt novel The Children’s Book that sounds fascinating. It is available locally, but I like to collect Byatt in hard cover, so ordered it from Amazon UK. I’m also eagerly anticipating Four Freedoms, John Crowley’s new novel, which I’ve pre-ordered from Amazon US as it certainly won’t be available locally. I don’t even dare hope for the 25th Anniversary Edition of Little, Big to be in my hands by southern winter, but according to recent news, production is nearing completion, so it can’t be all that far away.
I am presently reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers first full length novel. I was inspired to pick up Carson McCullers after reading an article on her on the Book Slut site. She sounds like she was a pretty wild woman.
Over the last weekend I perused a new novel - The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery which was highly praised by Michael Dirda in his review of it on Washington Post. It wasn’t a bad read and is a superior quality “best seller”, which it was in France. If all best sellers were like this, I might read more of them.