Tuesday, 22 January 2013

"The moral and political tittle-tattle of the day" - brief note on Lord Byron's 225th birthday

"I know that two and two make four - and should be glad to prove it too if I could - though I must say if by any sort of process I could convert 2 and 2 into five it would give me much greater pleasure." (Lord Byron)

22 January 1788, George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron was born in London.

"The moral and political tittle-tattle of the day" (Goethe) is mostly a thing of the past - and Byron himself did his very best to make every action and aspect of his life known to the public and took good care it appeared adequately shocking to his contemporaries - "leaving the man and the talent standing alone in all their brilliance" or, at the very least, in his multifacetedness.

The 19th and early 20th century with its variety of movements dissected his rich literary and biographical legacy and chose to emulate or simply adorn itself with the various emblems, ranging from the Byronic Hero á la Prometheus to the poet of freedom and the pure decadent, crossing the borders of the supernatural, especially the vampire myth.

And while he remains widely read throughout the world, often in the light of a local tradition at least a century old, his poetry, thoughts and pattern are often almost tangible in secondary, sometimes tertiary reception of art, literature, music and movies.


Detail of Thomas Philips' portrait of Lord Byron (1824)