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Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume VIII: ‘Born for opposition,’ 1821

Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume VIII: ‘Born for opposition,’ 1821

George Gordon Byron

Edited by Leslie A. Marchand

ISBN 9780674089488

Publication date: 11/09/1978

George Gordon Byron was a superb letter-writer: almost all his letters, whatever the subject or whoever the recipient, are enlivened by his wit, his irony, his honesty, and the sharpness of his observation of people. They provide a vivid self-portrait of the man who, of all his contemporaries, seems to express attitudes and feelings most in tune with the twentieth century. In addition, they offer a mirror of his own time. This first collected edition of all Byron’s known letters supersedes Prothero’s incomplete edition at the turn of the century. It includes a considerable number of hitherto unpublished letters and the complete text of many that were bowdlerized by former editors for a variety of reasons. Prothero’s edition included 1,198 letters. This edition has more than 3,000, over 80 percent of them transcribed entirely from the original manuscripts.

Born for Opposition opens with Byron in Ravenna, in 1821. His passion for the Countess Guiccioli is subsiding into playful fondness, and he confesses to his sister Augusta that he is not “so furiously in love as at first.” Italy, meanwhile, is afire with the revolutionary activities of the Carbonari, which Byron sees as “the very poetry of politics.” His journal, written while the insurrection grew, is a remarkable record of his reading and reflections while awaiting the sounds of gunfire. In spite of the turmoil, Byron stuck fast to his work. By the end of this volume, in October 1821, he is established in Pisa, having written Sardanapalus, Cain, and The Vision of Judgement.

Praise

  • He was an epic liver, having a genius for life and making life into poetry and wit and passion… To read Byron in his letters is to fall in love—with Byron.

    —New Spectator

Author

  • The late Leslie A. Marchand was Professor of English, Emeritus, Rutgers University. For his lifelong work on Byron, he was given the National Book Critics Circle's Ivan Sandrof Award.

Book Details

  • 278 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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