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Byron: The Last Journey by Harold Nicolson
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Byron: The Last Journey (1924)

by Harold Nicolson

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Well-written, and still useful, 1924 study of the unromantic circumstances that led to Byron's personal involvement in the Greek Revolt. A beautifully detailed account of the complete failure of this undertaking in the winter of 1823/1824, and of Byron's growing disappointment and uncertainty, and his final illness and death in the marshes and pouring rain of Missolonghi -- an area so wet that "the dykes of Holland when broken down are are deserts for dryness in comparison", as Byron said -- surrounded by unruly Souliot mercenaries, European adventurers, parasites, and incompetent doctors. Despite good psychological insight and a remarkably no-nonsense approach to the poet's life, Nicolson's tone is very apologetic regarding British imperialism, while using Orientalist, even racist terminology to describe the Ottoman Empire -- in sharp contrast to Byron's own approach to the wildly complicated political and ethnic situation in the Ottoman Aegean. ( )
  Rudolf | Jul 25, 2015 |
Maybe best-known these days for his unconventional marriage to Vita Sackville-West, Sir Nicolson was nonetheless a prolific writer with a keen interest in poets, especially Byron. ( )
  beaujoe | May 4, 2009 |
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