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The Fictions of Byron

 

Fictions of Byron: An Annotated Bibliography
by G. Todd Davis

1870s

Lord Byron in Love and Other Stories. G. Henry Howard Paul. 1872. In this short story, Mr. Lyttleton Page is wooing Mrs. Darlington, a rich widow. Page has been flattering the woman for three years and she's grown extremely tired of his advances. Lord Byron, in his guise of Augustus Trafford, rectifies the situation. He initially impresses then disheartens Mrs. Darlington with his indifference so that she realizes the true measure of Lyttleton Page's integrity and affection. Page and Darlington eventually get married. Trafford accomplishes a marvelous coup for Page, who at one point thinks he's being abandoned, but then realizes his friend has, indeed, given him the means to win Mrs. Darlington. A humorous and lively read.

The Vicar's Daughter. George MacDonald. 1872. A novel about Ethelwyn Percivale, narrator and writer, with individual chapters about the characters who live both with and around her. The superficial plot structure enacts a façade for the much more important aspects of child-rearing and theologya transparent moral primer, in which the author advances his theories on Christianity and morality. Lady Bernard allegedly represents Lady Byron, a pious soul who gives of herself and her money to help others, but only insofar as they help themselves. She is a rich patron to whom individuals apply for help and guidance. The author never mentions her husband, why she lives alone, or why she is so wealthy, content to portray her as an enigma to the end. Interestingly, Lady Byron was a patron to George MacDonald, the author, starting in 1856.

A Spiritual Interview with Lord Byron. Quevedo Redivivus. 1876. The narrator visits a medium, a spiritualist who channels Byron's spirit from the other realm and who treats the narrator to a lengthy tirade about the state of the afterlife, the literature of the age, and his frustration and anger with his numerous literary portraits. Quevedo Redivivus alludes to Byron's anonymous publication under the same name of The Vision of Judgment, his fervent satire against Robert Southey. Quevedo Redivivus is Latin for Quevedo Revived, referencing Francisco de Quevedo, the seventeenth-century Spanish author of Sueños, a prose satire. Byron becomes a mouthpiece through which the author can criticize and satirize his peers. He remains anonymously Byronic, hiding behind the dead poet's scathing wit and contemptuous articulations. Conjured by the medium, the spirit begins his harangue immediately, hardly allowing the interviewer any space for questions or comments. He reviles Disraeli's parodies, wishing that he would "suppress, if possible, his Venetia. " He damns Harriett Beecher Stowe for her execrable denunciation of him and her defense of Lady Byron; he censures Henry James Pye, who "writes his silly verses in the Spiritual papers as mine and brings me into ridicule." He venerates Hans Christian Andersen and Edgar Allan Poe, while belittling Robert Browning and Alfred Lord Tennyson as "drivelling." He continues: "I never could read ten lines of Tennyson without a headache. I candidly confess I don't consider either him or Browning poets."

"A Sketch of Lord Byron's Life." Julia A. Moore. 1878. Moore humorously imbues her poem with understatement and apparent insincerity. She says first that Byron was a poet, she believes, and then closes the sad career of this poet as the most celebrated Englishman of the nineteenth century. She laments that his first works were poorly received but that by the age of twenty-four, he had reached the pinnacle of literary fame. She alternates in this fashion throughout the poem: on one hand, denigrating the poet for his morals, and on the other hand lauding him profusely. She maintains that his character was of a low degree, but that he was a handsome fellow with great poetic skills and intellectual powers. Obviously, a lampoon meant to be read satirically.

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Published @ RC

January 2006