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Tony Grist

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Byron's Manfred [Apr. 22nd, 2007|10:09 am]
Tony Grist
I know Byron didn't like to think of himself as a romantic but this is the acme of romanticism- a great man with a horrific secret, more spooks than the average funhouse and mountains, mountains, mountains.

 It comes out of the same summer workshop (on the shores of Lake Leman) that produced Frankenstein.

(If only Frankenstein was this good!)

The occult revival starts here. With Byron and his gang so crazy for magic (though he knew nothing about it) it's no wonder his grandchildren (his spiritual descendants) all wanted to be magicians. 

But that's a side excursion- one we might have spared ourselves. If we'd read Byron more attentively we'd have learned  that the drugs don't work. We're on the main line here. The one from nowhere to nowhere. E.A. Poe and Samuel Beckett are waiting just ahead.
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2007-04-22 07:42 pm (UTC)

E.A. Poe and Samuel Beckett are waiting just ahead.

Drugs don't work; that's a given. But surely you don't believe that Samuel Beckett was part of a highway to nowhere? Or did I mis-read this sentence?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-22 08:45 pm (UTC)

Re: E.A. Poe and Samuel Beckett are waiting just ahead.

"They give birth above an open grave"- I'm quoting from memory- but I think that's the line.
I find the same philosophy in Byron.

So no, I don't think Beckett leads nowhere, rather that Beckett (and Byron and Poe) believed or were afraid that life leads nowhere.
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2007-04-23 06:06 am (UTC)

Re: E.A. Poe and Samuel Beckett are waiting just ahead.

The lines, from Waiting for Godot, one of my favourite plays, reads,
"We give birth astride a grave,
the light glimmers an instant, and then is seen no more."

But that's from Lucky's speech; the tramps continue to wait, they don't know for how long or for whom, but they wait. Many believe that this represents Beckett's beliefs - not the desperate ravings of the mad Lucky or the ringmaster. Yes, Beckett saw life as confusing struggle but he clearly believed it was worth the effort.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-23 02:23 pm (UTC)

Re: E.A. Poe and Samuel Beckett are waiting just ahead.

"Beckett saw life as confusing struggle but he clearly believed it was worth the effort."

I think he was rather more blackly pessimistic than that, but of course he was an artist, not a philosopher or theologian, and his work is open to interpretation.
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2007-04-23 03:50 pm (UTC)

Re: E.A. Poe and Samuel Beckett are waiting just ahead.

He lived to be 96 and was still drinking with his Irish friends - to the great dismay of his wife.
Of course the work of any artist is open to interpretation, I agree, but I have chosen to regard it as life affirming - He was Irish after all.
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[User Picture]From: boxmint
2007-04-23 09:11 pm (UTC)
He didn't like to think of himself as a romantic? Tell me more. I thought that he and Keats and Shelley were the black-eyed boys of Rrromantic Lit, with a capital rolling R and a collapsing tower.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-24 09:22 am (UTC)
Byron didn't see himself as a member of a literary movement- far less as its leader.
He was influenced by the older "romantics"- Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey- but despised them as political turncoats and routinely satirized them in his work. As for his younger contemporaries, he was a good friend to Shelley but thought Keats was soppy- both as a poet and a man.

He was of course the most famous man in Europe after Napoleon and the centre of a cult of personality which he both exploited and hated. By comparison Shelley and Keats were nobodies. The idea of the three of them as a literary troika is a Victorian invention- as is the whole concept of "Romanticism".
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[User Picture]From: boxmint
2007-04-24 02:55 pm (UTC)
Well, I'll be damned. I'd thought the three of them had similar ideas about how poetry should be structured, and what it ought to do--and also about the relationship of the writer's life to his verse. No?

(I've read some of Byron's letters, in which he relishes and denigrates his Italian lovers. So I can quite see what you mean about his cult of personality.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-24 03:24 pm (UTC)
Byron and Shelley were kindred spirits. They were both radicals and both aristocrats. They spent quite a bit of time together.

Keats was middle-class. Byron hated the lush sensuality of his work and- in so many words- called him a wanker.

Shelley was more sympathetic towards Keats, wrote his elegy and, by an odd coincidence, died with a copy of Endymion in his jacket pocket- but they were never friends.

Keats would have been aware of Byron- everybody was- but Shelley had published very little by the time Keats died.

It was only after their deaths that the three men came to be harnessed together as the leading lights of English romanticism.
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