Lord Byron, Christian Virtues

Lord Byron, Christian Virtues

Lord Byron, Christian Virtues

Lord Byron, Christian Virtues

Excerpt

Though Byron has been for long one of my major interests, this is my first full-length study. Of the poetry alone I have in The Burning Oracle already published a general survey which I hope eventually to reprint as part of a more extended investigation. I would point also to my article 'The Plays of Lord Byron' in The Times Literary Supplement of 3 February, 1950, with its plea for a Byron festival; and to the scattered comments throughout Christ and Nietzsche.

My present volume is conceived as the first of a trilogy on Byron as man and poet, to which there will probably be added a fourth on the Don Leon poems. The sub-title 'Christian Virtues' strictly limits the field of this first study. Of Byron's vices I hope to say more hereafter: given the necessary support, I shall not be backward in discussion of them. Meanwhile, we may suggest that the recognition of virtues should surely take precedence over any enquiry into our subject's vices. The negative must, here and elsewhere, be studied in terms of the positive and not vice versa, or we risk getting everything out of focus.

I cannot, it is true, make any pretensions to biographical skill of the more conventional kind; and I confess to being not always at ease with the details of time-sequence and locality. If I have made any mistakes of consequence, I hope that they will be quickly brought to light. Authorities are, however, given for almost every statement; the evidence is there. Indeed, we have in the past had perhaps too much biographical skill with too little reliance on evidence; and I would here emphasize that the wholesale acceptance of Lady Byron's unpublished account of her husband's domestic behaviour suggests a certain confusion regarding both the nature of evidence and the nature of marriage. In the following pages both narrative and comment are reduced to a minimum; the aim is, to let the evidence speak, as far as possible, for itself. The result is less the story of a life than a mosaic of evidence regarding qualities, both . . .

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