cover image Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life

Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life

Edna O'Brien, . . Norton, $23.95 (228pp) ISBN 978-0-393-07011-8

Celebrated novelist and biographer O’Brien (The Country Girls trilogy) is a keen cicerone to the strange and insatiable love life of “the lame poet with the features of Adonis.” Drawing on Marchand’s three-volume biography of Lord Byron, while adding to this her immersion in letters and journals, O’Brien presents a figure we can see all-around. With a perennial worry about his weight, not to mention his right clubfoot, Byron, O’Brien says, compensated by indulging in homosexual relationships, most notably with John Edleston, and heterosexual trysts. Indeed, Byron always seemed to be in love and on the run, traversing Europe from Spain and Portugal to Albania and Greece. His travels and his loves inspired Manfred , Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and, above all, Don Juan. Of interest as well are Byron’s hot-and-cold relations with publisher John Murray, the Shelleys (who were largely appalled by Byron’s lifestyle) and Dr. Polidori, whose novel on “the vampyre” would inspire an industry. At times a bit breathless, this compact life sets the emotional background for a poet who today is more famous for his life story than his work. 8 pages of illus. (June 15)