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Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame
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Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  184 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
In this masterful portrait of the poet who dazzled an era and prefigured the modern age of celebrity, noted biographer Benita Eisler offers a fuller and more complex vision than we have yet been afforded of George Gordon, Lord Byron.

Eisler reexamines his poetic achievement in the context of his extraordinary life: the shameful and traumatic childhood; the swashbuckling adv
Paperback, 882 pages
Published May 9th 2000 by Vintage (first published April 12th 1999)
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Marguerite Kaye
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good grief, but Byron was a horror. A fascinating one, a colourful one, a truly and utterly promiscuous one and an incestuous. In fact the word rake should have been invented for him. What on earth did women (and men) see in him? That's the one question that isn't answered in this very thorough biography. Colourful, at times verging on the hagiographic but only a bit, and at times a little too much analysis of the poetry too, but on the whole, a great, rumbustious, toe-curling read.
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-bio
Utterly, utterly comprehensive. At one point I was going to knock off a star for being OVER-detailed but because Byron has been so heavily biographised, its important for any new tome (and this is definitely a tome) to be completely and extensively researched. Also, as the author herself mentions in the endface, many Byron bios barely mention his poetry, so the liberal textual analysis was a very welcome addition.
This is an excellent biography of a fascinating person. Rich with sympathy and empathy for both Byron and all the major figures in his life, it gives due weight to the importance of Byron's writings in his personal life without becoming primarily literary criticism. Benita Eisler is a sure and capable guide through all of Byron's thiry-six years, and I, for one, was quite happy to follow her for eight hundred pages.
La Mala ✌
Aug 24, 2015 marked it as prioridades
Nota:: Corte que después de mi bimestre con Dickens, se viene mi mes con los ROMÁNTICOS, así que a full con Byron, Blake, Keats y los que entren...
Isadora Wagner
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gothic, biography, poetry
“Fantasies are not harmless escapes from reality; they are dress rehearsals.” So writes Benita Eisler in her sweeping account of Lord Byron, the Romantic poet and much lionized English nobleman. The statement, at once as informed as it is troublesome, comes well into Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame—p. 732 to be exact, when Byron is waiting in Metaxas for what will become the last act of his life: his martyrdom, at the age of thirty-six, for the cause of Greek freedom—an act which, if Don J ...more
Katherine (
I will admit that I'm not finished this book yet! It's taken me many months and I am still not done reading it. I'm not a big fan of historical biographies which is why I think this book is taking me so long to read. It's a very long read in general. I promise you I will finish it someday but now that I am about halfway through I think it's time to talk about how I feel when it comes to this book. Maybe when I finish reading I'll update my thoughts.

So, basically, I really like this book! It is s
David Levell
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Byron's poetry has long-been eclipsed in critical regard by the work of contemporaries such as Keats and Blake. But if he has faded as a poet, as a biographical subject he’ll always shine, mainly because his life reads like an X-rated Jane Austen novel.

Utilising previously unseen letters, Eisler reveals a complex and twisted man, a carnal wit who was as proud of his long-distance swimming as his verses.

Here Eisler seeks to revive Byron’s poetic reputation by examining his verse in the context o
Paul Jr.
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Fascinating biography, exposing both the brilliant artist and the sometime heinous man. The scholarship present is great and it, through the majority, is as captivating as a novel. The history and facts are hardly dry recitations and I have no doubt some artistic license was taken, but by the end, I thought I had a good understanding of this man and how his life inspired his work and his work tormented his life. The only thing keeping this from being a 5 star biography is that it gets a tad repe ...more
Joan Colby
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Colorful rendition of a well-examined life. Eisler quotes from a myriad of Byron's poems and covers his life from birth to death. Her treatment is lively and intensely researched. Byron was a popular idol and highly flamboyant. He flaunted his affairs, had a histrionic personality and would have scorned the pedantic studies of his work. The work itself has, in modern times, been overshadowed by the life,yet his poems particularly his masterpiece Don Juan document his importance as a poet and how ...more
Sep 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Again, I'm always "currently reading" this book- but this time mainly because it's so long. I'll probably finish it one day - maybe when I'm 80. :-)

But it is a good book - very well researched and Benita Eisler is a very engaging, conversational writer, so it's not a difficult read from that perspective. I'm just a very slow and easily distracted reader. And I do get a bit confused between all of his friends, lovers, family members and how they all relate to each other. Maybe a flow chart is in
Oct 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
A riveting account of Byron's life. And what a life it was. I think you probably have to be a fan of historical biography to be gripped like I was, because this is a long book. That sounded dumb, I know. Whatever you've been up to, you will feel better about yourself if you read this book. Unless you have been really bad.
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite biographies: I loved her protrayal of Byron.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Mad, bad and dangerous to know." Lady Caroline Lamb's pithy description of her infamous lover summed him up very well.
Roman Clodia
Jun 09, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a good biography of Byron and makes full use of all the modern scholarship, as well as being able to be straightforward about the homosexual affairs of his youth, and incest with his half-sister that some of the earlier classic biographies (i.e. Marchand's) had to gloss over.

Having said that, it lacks any passion for the subject, and so while it tells an interesting story, you don't feel any clear fascination with the characters perhaps because the author doesn't either.

It's very good on
Sep 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
The main impression this book left me with was what a bastard Byron was to his young daughter. His disappointing behavior lasted for years, but I think one example will illustrate. In the book is a reproduction of a letter by his daughter sweetly asking him to take her to the fair. He didn't. He apparently didn't even reply to her letter. She died months later.

It makes the wit of Don Juan seem that much less funny to me.
Brooke Bove
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
I stopped reading this because it got really boring. How do you make Byron boring? He's one of the most salacious and dynamic poets in the history of the entire universe. But the biography is boring. I'm going to power through it eventually, but for now it's going to be on the back burner. Therefore, I'm putting it on my "read" list.
Donna Jo Atwood
Mar 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, uk-history
"Mad,bad, and dangerous to know" the 19th century poet who was like unto a 20th century rock star. His family life was chaotic, his poetry sublime. His good looks overlaid a heart of ice. He was a tortured soul, constantly surrounded by women eager to be loved and abused by him.

Read for 2009 Spring Challenge 15.2
Feb 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
I wasn't expecting this to be as well-written as it is, at least for a non-scholarly biography. Nonetheless a fair treatment of Byron as a writer, not just as one plagued by scandal. I read this in the wake of a terrible break-up and was glad for some storm-tossed inspiration; at least she wasn't Caroline Lamb.
Dec 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
About as tidy an exposition as one could hope for of this incomparably messy life. Eisler dishes all the dirt without wallowing in it while almost making one see in Byron what his contemporaries did.
Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mfareads
The last chapters are slow but the rest of it is really riveting. 800 pages and you are scarily inside Byron's life.
Rodney Welch
Sep 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Vividly written, illuminating life of the great poet. Far more gripping and intelligent than Fiona MacCarthy's biography, which goes off the deep end in the psychoanalysis department.
Jeff B Arcand
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“When a boy I could never bear to read any Poetry whatever without disgust and reluctance,” he said.32 He” 0 likes
“For Byron, the most moving sight was “Sappho’s Leap,” at the southeasternmost point of Ithaca, from where the poet, martyr to betrayed passion, is supposed to have flung herself into the sea.” 0 likes
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