Byron, a self-portrait: letters and diaries, 1798 to 1824

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Oxford University Press, 1990 - Literary Criticism - 803 pages
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Literary legend has it that Byron left behind the beginnings of an autobiography, but that his publisher, John Murray, destroyed it after his death because he found it too shocking. With this fascinating selection of correspondence written by one of England's greatest letter writers, Peter Quennell comes as close as anyone can to salvaging what was lost by the alleged actions of one overcautious publisher. Drawing on letters from Byron's pre-Harrow days to those written in the weeks before his death, Quennell has pieced together the extraordinary story of Byron's life as told by himself. As Byron records his thoughts as a schoolboy, man-of-the-world, rake and womanizer, literary sensation, and poet-in-exile, he reveals the rebellious, warm-hearted, disorderly, fun-loving, and neurotic sides to his private character. The volume conveys how his writing, veering from racy vulgarity to polished eloquence, vividly evokes the worlds in which he lived--London and Venetian high society, the Swiss and Italian countryside, and the Greek war tents at Missolonghi. It also includes Byron's journals reprinted in full.

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