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His Own Dark Mind

Clare Bucknell: Rescuing Lord Byron, 30 November 2023

Byron and the Poetics of Adversity 
by Jerome McGann.
Cambridge, 214 pp., £19.99, December 2022, 978 1 009 23295 1
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Reading Byron: Poems – Life – Politics 
by Bernard Beatty.
Liverpool, 266 pp., £90, January, 978 1 80085 462 8
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Byron’s ‘Don Juan’: The Liberal Epic of the 19th Century 
by Richard Cronin.
Cambridge, 248 pp., £85, June, 978 1 009 36623 6
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... Poet’.Don Juan is a difficult poem to see past. McGann’s starting point is a belief, shared by Bernard Beatty in his essay collection Reading Byron, that the ‘poetic character’ of large swathes of Byron’s work – the non-comic material, much of it produced before his turn to the ottava rima stanza in 1817 – has been ‘obscured by Don ...

They saw him coming

Neal Ascherson: The Lockhart Plot, 5 November 2020

The Lockhart Plot: Love, Betrayal, Assassination and Counter-­Revolution in Lenin’s Russia 
by Jonathan Schneer.
Oxford, 331 pp., £25, July 2020, 978 0 19 885298 8
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... and through platoons of willing girlfriends and wives (some of them bigamous).Back in 1980, Bernard Crick began his Life of George Orwell by imploring English biographers to be honest, to confess when they didn’t know something about their subject instead of veering off into fiction. They took little notice. Schneer is endearingly open about the holes ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... to slosh, became friends with Jacqueline Kennedy, and had flings with Robert Kennedy Jr, Warren Beatty (who would keep her waiting forty tedious minutes while he primped for their date, probably trying to shine the twinkle in his eye) and the presidential speechwriter Richard Goodwin, who, deploying tricks of the trade learned from a French ...

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