Byron in Geneva: That Summer of 1816

Adam Phillips writes:

Byron looked at his own tumultuous life with an Enlightenment gaze: empirical, sceptical, agnostic, hedonistic. He was an ironic rationalist, who, like all rationalists, had an irrational personal history. He was interested in what, if anything, the two things – the tumultuous life and the Enlightenment gaze – might say about each other, but he never assumed that one could be used to explain the other, or that explanation could ever be sufficient; as he has Cain say, ‘I look/Around a world where I seem nothing, with/Thoughts which arise within me, as if they/Could master all things.’ All this has a bearing on the before and after story that David Ellis wants us to take more seriously as the real story of Byron’s life.

(LRB 25 August 2011)

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