Posted in 19th century, literature, victorian, tagged barrie, books, byron, don juan, east lynne, smoking, victorian literature, woods on March 15, 2009 |
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From Lord Byron’s Don Juan:
Than I resign thine image, oh, my fair!
Or think of any thing excepting thee;
A mind diseased no remedy can physic
(Here the ship gave a lurch, and he grew sea-sick).
“Sooner shall heaven kiss earth (here he fell sicker),
Oh, Julia! what is every other woe?
(For God’s sake let me have a glass of liquor;
Pedro, Battista, help me down below.)
Julia, my love! (you rascal, Pedro, quicker) –
Oh, Julia! (this curst vessel pitches so) –
Belovéd Julia, hear me still beseeching!”
(Here he grew inarticulate with retching.)
I found this very funny, especially considering there was a great debate in the nineteenth century about the proper subject matter in poetry: was the own era worthy enough of poetry, or should a poet retell the stories of the Classics? Poets like Ruskin, Carlyle, and Patmore saw the poet as a prophet, whose poetry entailed hidden truths and divine messages, so poetry was crucial for a proper and developed society. I think from the above excerpt you might know Byron’s opinion on a poet’s subject matter! You can read all of Don Juan here, it’s a great poem, and very readable and entertaining.
Also for you smokers out there: J.M. Barrie writes 13 chapters on the art of smoking. It’s really quite a good read!
Lastly Serial Sensation is publishing Mrs. Henry Woods’ East Lynne in small bits every week, so you can read it as a series, as it appeared in Victorian newspapers.
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I am not a big fan of the poetry of John Keats (my professor says “of course, noone likes Keats” but that might be an overstatement) but his lifestory is so beautiful and sad and romantic that I wanted to share it here.
John Keats was an English poet who lived from 1795 to 1821, he died at 26 leaving an impressive amount of high-quality poetry. Before he was 15, his mother, father, and grandfather had died. When his grandmother died, he was entrusted with the care of his brother Tom, who suffered from tuberculosis, the same illness that had killed his mother. Keats left for a journey through Scotland and Ireland, but the physical exhaustion and bad, wet weather proved to be bad for his health. He had to return early, suffering from a sore throath, and what were probably the first signs of tuberculosis. When he returned, he found his brother Tom’s condition had deteriorated, and he died in 1818.
Keats moved house and fell in love with his neighbor’s daughter, the eighteen-year old Fanny Brawne. It was a very unhappy affair: while the couple did get engaged, they knew they would probably never marry because Keats was very poor (the little money he made he send to his other brother in America, who was almost bankrupt due to an unwise investment) and his health was quickly worsening.
In 1820 he was invited to spend some time in Italy by Percy Bysshe Shelley, but he writes back that he might not be able to visit, because he thinks he might die before that time. Finally he did move to Italy, where he died in 1821.
Keats was a very sensitive person, and it is said that his health was influenced by bad reviews on his poetry, which were above all motivated by politics, not by the poetry’s quality. Shelley called Keats “a pale flower” and Byron, who disliked him, said he was “snuffed out by an article.” Keats’ death later inspired Shelley to write the poem Adonais, and when Shelley’s drowned body was found (a year after Keats’ death) it had an open book of Keats’ works upon it.
Keats’ letter to Shelley can be read here.
(Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keats, the Norton Anthology of English literature, Vol II, 8th Edition.)
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Posted in 19th century, literature, movies, people, places to go, victorian, tagged 19th century, bbc, byron, lord byron, poetry, shelley, victorian on January 6, 2008 |
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This post is the second part of Byron sources, part one is located here
The other day I attended a theatre show, where the tv program where a dateable girl has to pick one of three bachelors was played. The girl was Richardson’s Pamela, and her choice of men were Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Oscar Wilde (he left early because he was gay.) In the end, Pamela was dragged off stage by Lord Byron, who cackled.
The BBC serie about Byron was by far the most interesting thing I ever saw. If you know BBC series, you know they’re not shy about the, er, less pretty facts of someone’s life, so this serie might not be one you want to show to young children. (Although it’s not very explicit.) The best thing I think is, because it’s so beautiful and interesting, you remember a lot
and can appear as a smart person to your peers because you know all kinds of facts about Byron, just by watching a movie. It seems very honest in its representation of Byron’s life.
My only remark would be: show us a little bit more Shelley!
Here are some Byron icons from the BBC series, if you feel Byron should represent you on various messageboards across the net.
You can send your child to Byron Bible Camp. I was very surprised for a minute, until I realised it’s probably named after a different Byron.
You can visit Byron’s home, which is very beautiful.
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I think everyone knows about Byron. And if you don’t, it’s only a Wikipedia click away. So I won’t tell you about his life story or works, instead, I’ll review some sources that might be fun to read, or shed a new light.
To read about Byron in an unconventional way, you can read John Crowley’s “The Evening Land” (Amazon link) (I see the American cover has art by Friedrich, which is very curious indeed.) This book is about a lost manuscript by lord Byron (who all of a sudden wrote proze, apparently.) It was found by his daughter, Ada Lovelace, who said she destroyed it but actually wove it into a blanket, and wrote about it, in code. These writings are found by a girl who works in London, and writes emails to her father, with whom she does not have a very good relationship, and to her lesbian lover who is still in America. Confused yet? Yes, so was I, and after a while I started skipping the parts that are Byron’s story (they read a bit forced, like most things that use archaic words to sound authentic) and only read the emails, (which also read a bit forced, because one of them uses a ‘hip email language’ without an interpunction, that I don’t think anyone uses) because the story of the two girls was quite a bit more interesting. Actually, I must admit, I have yet to finish the book. But, it’s quit educational and gives you lots of Byron facts without really ‘teaching’ or being annoying about it.
After reading it, you might be up for a Byron fun facts in pop-quiz format:
Byron, the bad boy of poetry.
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