Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame

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9780140170764: Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame

In this masterful portrait of the poet who dazzled an era and prefigured the modern age of celebrity, noted biographer Benita Eisler offers a fuller and more complex vision than we have yet been afforded of George Gordon, Lord Byron.

Eisler reexamines his poetic achievement in the context of his extraordinary life: the shameful and traumatic childhood; the swashbuckling adventures in the East; the instant stardom achieved with the publication ofChilde Harold's Pilgrimage; his passionate and destructive love affairs, including an incestuous liaison with his half-sister; and finally his tragic death in the cause of Greek independence. This magnificent record of a towering figure is sure to become the new standard biography of Byron.

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Review:

"Obscured by the freedom fighter, fashion leader, fallen angel, and literary bad boy, Byron the great poet has tended to be forgotten," writes Benita Eisler in the closing chapter of her monumental biography, which goes a long way toward depicting George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) in a more balanced fashion. Even in his own era, when the first edition of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage sold out in three days, whispers of incest, homosexuality, and--far worse in Tory England--political radicalism grew so insistent that they drove Byron out of his homeland. Eisler's comprehensive narrative does ample justice to the impassioned love affairs that made him notorious, from his voluptuous half-sister, Augusta Leigh, to the erratic and vengeful Lady Caroline Lamb, who famously described him as "mad, bad, and dangerous to know." Let's face it, those juicy stories are half the reason we want to read about Byron, but Eisler gives us the other half, too, reminding her readers with lengthy quotes and intelligent exegesis that Don Juan is one of the greatest poems in English, and Byron one of the most influential and important poets. Her impeccably researched text is lucid about Byron's beliefs, candid about his faults, and persuasively ardent about his genius. --Wendy Smith

From the Back Cover:

"Quite simply the best life of Byron we have." --Literary Review

"Lively. . .vividly told. . . . A much more detailed and illuminating account of the poet's private life than any previous book."

--The Washington Post Book World

"A splendidly readable biography of a perpetually fascinating genius."

--The Atlantic Monthly

"[Eisler's ] book will . . . be the one to beat for many decades to come.
. . . [She] is especially artful and dexterous in matching the poetry to the life and the ideas." --Los Angeles Times

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