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Byron in Geneva: That Summer of 1816 by…
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Byron in Geneva: That Summer of 1816

by David Ellis

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The downfall of the genre of biography is that far too often the writer becomes enamored of the secondary (and sometimes even the tertiary) figures in the subject's life. Ellis' book starts of quite strong by staying quite steady on Byron and the Shelleys. However, part two devolves in to an endless litany of minor characters and how they came to be in Geneva that summer. The book gets mired in the minutiae of who called whom what. Worse, the Villa Diodati storytelling episode, arguably one of the most important things that happens that summer, gets merely one chapter. An admirable effort to study Byron in more situational rather than broad-stroke terms, but it doesn't quite work out. ( )
  JWarren42 | Oct 10, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 184631643X, Hardcover)

In 1816, following the scandalous collapse of his marriage, Lord Byron left England forever. His first destination was the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, where he stayed with Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Godwin, Claire Clairmont, and John Polidori. Byron in Geneva focuses sharply on the poet’s life in the summer of that year, a famous time for meteorologists—for whom 1816 is the year without a summer—but also that crucial moment in the development of his writing when, urged on by Shelley, Byron tried to transform himself into a Romantic poet of the Wordsworthian variety.

 

The book not only gives a vivid impression of what Byron thought and felt in these few months after the breakdown of his marriage, but it also explores the different aspects of his nature that emerge in contact with a remarkable cast of supporting characters, including Madame de Staël—who presided over a famous salon in Coppet, across the lake from Geneva—and Matthew Lewis, author of the splendidly erotic gothic best-seller, The Monk. David Ellis sets out to challenge recent damning studies of Byron and, through his meticulous exploration of the private and public life of the poet at this pivotal moment, he reasserts the value of Byron’s wit, warm-heartedness, and hatred of cant.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:41 -0400)

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