Byron

Sigrid Combuchen, Author, Sigrid Combhuchen, Author Trafalgar Square Publishing $24.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-434-14106-7
Like a number of recent novels, from Waterland to Possession , this Swedish author's English-language debut places a 19th-century narrative within a modern frame, yielding a dense, complicated work that is a pleasure to read. Combuchen's premise begins with the founding of the Byron Society in 1938 by a group of Nottingham residents who wish to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the poet's birth. Each will present a paper on an aspect of Byron's life; however, one of them decides that he cannot write his until he has seen Byron's embalmed corpse, which is buried nearby. From the opening exhumation scene to the concluding passages about Byron's death, Combuchen maintains the momentum of her many story lines. A literary critic, she combines her analytical skills with those of the novelist, biographer and cultural historian to create a multilayered work that moves fluidly between the lives of her 20th-century characters and the subjects they explore in their essays. The prose, in Tate's translation, is smooth and idiomatic, easily orchestrating the many different voices here into a sonorous whole. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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