Author: Thomas Moore
Publisher: Nabu Press
Release Date: 2010-01
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Lord Byron remains, as he was to many of his contemporaries, the defining personality of his age and time, the quintessential late-Romantic: one whose life matched the freedom of imagination and possibility of his poetry, charismatic, irresistible and shocking. The full range of his work, however, reveals a less straightforward and less stereotypical writer than this: a thinker as well as a feeler, a poet rather than merely a sensationalist, someone who justifies his towering literary reputation as much as his scandalous one. This edition of the Works contains Byron's entire poetical output, including dramas and material omitted or censored from early editions. It also presents around half of the known letters, the journals and other prose writings. The contents of the volumes are: Volume 1 (386 pp.): Introduction to the poetical works by Dr. Peter Cochran; Fugitive Pieces; Poems on Various Occasions; Hours of Idleness; Poems Original and Translated; other early poems; English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers; Hints from Horace; The Curse of Minerva; The Waltz. Volume 2 (295 pp.): Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, including stanzas excluded from the early editions and all Byron's and Hobhouse's notes and appendices. Volume 3 (426 pp.): Poems 1809–1813; The Giaour; The Bride of Abydos; The Corsair; Lara; Hebrew Melodies; Poems 1814–1816; The Siege of Corinth; Parisina; Poems of the Separation. Volume 4 (509 pp.): The Prisoner of Chillon; Poems of July–September, 1816; Manfred; The Lament of Tasso; Beppo; Ode on Venice; Mazeppa; The Prophecy of Dante; The Morgante Maggiore; Francesca of Rimini; Marino Faliero; The Vision of Judgment; Poems 1816–1823; The Blues. Volume 5 (685 pp.): Sardanapalus; The Two Foscari; Cain; Heaven and Earth; Werner; The Deformed Transformed; The Age of Bronze; The Island. Volume 6 (689 pp.): Don Juan. Volume 7 (87 pp.): minor poems and jeux d'esprit. Volume 8 (204 pp.): Introduction to the prose works by Dr. Peter Cochran; letters, to August 1811. Volume 9 (352 pp.): letters, August 1811 to December 1813; journal, November 1813 to April 1814; articles from the Monthly Review; Parliamentary speeches. Volume 10 (266 pp.): letters, January 1814 to November 1816; journal for Augusta, September 1816; a fragment of a novel. Volume 11 (355 pp.): letters, November 1816 to March 1820; translations from Armenian; unfinished skit on Sotheby's Tour; letter to the editor of "My Grandmother's Review"; reply to Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. Volume 12 (358 pp.): letters, April 1820 to December 1821; extracts from journal, January to February 1821; "My Dictionary"; Detached Thoughts; the two letters on Bowles and Pope; draft of an address to the Neapolitan insurgents; notes on Bacon's apophthegms and Voltaire. Volume 13 (261 pp.): letters, January 1822 on; two late prose fragments; additional letters; undated letters to Lady Melbourne. All of the Works have been newly typeset for this edition. The basis of the texts is Ernest Hartley Coleridge's edition of the poetry and Rowland E. Prothero's edition of the prose (as published uniformly, London: John Murray, 1898). Further letters have been added from the texts in John Murray, ed., Lord Byron's Correspondence (London: John Murray, 1922, 2 vols.), Ralph, Earl of Lovelace, Astarte (London: Scribner's, 1921), and material supplied by Peter Cochran drawing on the B.L. Loan 70 collection and other sources, and incorporated silently into the chronological sequence and numbering of the series. Additional poems and portions of Childe Harold initially suppressed have been supplied from the online edition by Peter Cochran (www.internationalbyronsociety.org) and incorporated into the sequence.
Fiona MacCarthy makes a breakthrough in interpreting Byron's life and poetry drawing on John Murray's world-famous archive. She brings a fresh eye to his early years: his childhood in Scotland, embattled relations with his mother, the effect of his deformed foot on his development. She traces his early travels in the Mediterranean and the East, throwing light on his relationships with adolescent boys - a hidden subject in earlier biographies. While paying due attention to the compelling tragicomedy of Byron's marriage, his incestuous love for his half-sister Augusta and the clamorous attention of his female fans, she gives a new importance to his close male friendships, in particular that with his publisher John Murray. She tells the full story of their famous disagreement, ending as a rift between them as Byron's poetry became more recklessly controversial. Byron was a celebrity in his own lifetime, becoming a 'superstar' in 1812, after the publication of Childe Harold. The Byron legend grew to unprecedented proportions after his death in the Greek War of Independence at the age of thirty-six. The problem for a biographer is sifting the truth from the sentimental, the self-serving and the spurious. Fiona MacCarthy has overcome this to produce an immaculately researched biography, which is also her refreshing personal view.