George and Caroline and Percy and Mary

PETTINGELL, PHOEBE

George and Caroline and Percy and Mary Caro: The Fatal Passion By Henry Blyth Coward McCann & Geoghegan. 260 pp. $8.95. Haunted Summer By Anne Edwards Coward McCann & Geoghegan. 278 pp....

...Catherine Turney has chosen to write about the most controversial of all Byron topicshis alleged incest, and the disputed paternity of Elizabeth Medora Leigh...
...Caroline did not understand Byron's ambivalent feelings about women, and he dealt her ego a crushing blow by telling her she was not his type physically...
...Byron himself the author sees as a not-very-latent homosexual who was most attracted to Caroline when she dressed as one of her page boys...
...In a young man he sought for physical perfection . . . but with women he was less discriminating...
...Every feature of Byron's brief career was sensational in some respect, but none more so than his relations with women...
...then she teams up with his estranged wife to deliver evidence that forces him to leave the country...
...Three new works attempt to cast fresh light on this rather dizzying subject...
...Byron's half-sister, Augusta, good-humored and weak...
...There we find Byron, along with his lover, Claire Clairmont, and his physician, Polidori...
...Stowe that she believed the worst...
...and her daughter (possibly by Byron), Elizabeth Medora Leigh, who will become an unwed mother at 15...
...320 pp...
...Also on hand are Claire's step-sister Mary Woll-stonecraft Godwinódaughter of the celebrated feminist leader, Mary Wollstonecraft, and the revolutionary philosopher, William Godwinand her married lover, Percy Bysshe Shelley, with whom she has run off...
...His attraction to Mary, the author of Frankenstein, is based on a grudging recognition of her mental capacities, and on a desire to make her respond physically to him...
...Turney's unflagging sympathy for her subject, Rossetti's assessment must still be considered the last word...
...Lady Caroline Lamb's husband, Lord Melbourne, is prime minister and favorite adviser to Queen Victoria...
...Not every modern biographer sides with Annabella and Medora on the matter (Blyth, for one, is not convinced), and in spite of Ms...
...Mary, on the other hand, comes across as the embodiment of Women's Liberation, circa 1816...
...euthanasia ' abortion ?drug abuse ?birth defects ?prison care ?experimentation HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVES IN MEDICAL ETHICS 14 provocative essays edited by Maurice B. Visscher, M.D $11.95 Send orders to: K> Prometheus Books Dept...
...Fictionalizations of CONCERNED ABOUT QUALITY HEALTH CARE...
...As strange omens of death fill the air, a powerful attraction develops between Mary and Byron...
...Toward the end of the century, W. M. Rossetti summarized the arguments pro and con, concluding: "For the present, therefore, I feel it right to eliminate this gross and ghastly story from the material of Byron's life: not to reject it, for it may yet prove true, but to exclude it as hitherto unverified...
...Nevertheless, in later years she presents each of her lovers with Byron's ring to wear as long as they enjoy her favors...
...Medora, too, maintained in her autobiography that Byron was her father, but she was trying to make a claim for support from the Byron family...
...In the book she lectures everyone on the Female Revolution, although the real Mary wrote of this period: "Many and long were the conversations between Lord Byron and Shelley, to which I was a devout but nearly silent listener...
...Edwards fails to improve on the pictures that Mary, Byron and Shelley give of themselves in their own writings...
...As have novelists superior to her, Ms...
...The action begins in Regency England, where the Age of Reason and Revolution has given way to mindless pleasure-seeking, and Lady Caroline Lamb's "fatal passion" for the young Byron is the talk of the day...
...Haunted Summer hardly enhances or clarifies our impressions of these three quite remarkable people...
...Bryon's Daughter By Catherine Turney Scribners...
...Think about it, Mary," he propositions, "I cannot in all faith promise you the part of my love that remains with Augusta, but 1 can assure you a very rewarding and lively time if your answer be yes...
...He was shocked by evidence of sensuality in women...
...In this version, Byron hides his clubfoot under heavy boots and bravado, engaging in endless monologues about his private life...
...Anne Edwards' Haunted Summer is a fanciful reconstruction of the pages Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin cut out of her journal, covering the time at Chillon...
...But first, my love, my very own love, perhaps we should be a bit more earthy...
...Word arrives that Byron has been killed fighting to free Greece from the Turks, and four persons are left to cope with his heritage: Byron's wife, Annabella, intelligent, righteous and implacable...
...The story ends in general confusion...
...Buffalo, New York 14215 Byron are nothing newóLady Caroline wrote a best-seller about him...
...Glenarvon, and Thomas Love Peacock satyrized both Byron and Shelley in Nightmare Abbey...
...When he jilts her, she gains revenge by spreading the rumor that he has had incestuous relations with his half-sister, Augusta Leigh...
...Some of the poet's friends, on receiving letters from her begging for money, decided that she was only an adventuress...
...The poet, while genuinely fond of Caroline, found her hysterical attachment too much in conflict with his own temperament, and preferred the intellectual friendship of her mother-in-law, Lady Melbourne...
...Time passes and, for the final scene, we return to England...
...Byron contributed to the gossip by his desire to shock, and in 1869 Harriet Beecher Stowe published her provocative Lady Byron Vindicated, based on conversations with the aging Annabella, who had confided to Ms...
...Blyth explains: "There was a strong puritanical streak in Byron...
...It will appeal to those who are interested in the private lives of celebrities from other times...
...6.95...
...His book is well researched and written in a vivid, even melodramatic, style...
...Blyth believes Caroline to have been a pathetic creature, disturbed by the nymphomaniacal behavior of her mother and aunt, and ill-adjusted to her serious husband...
...Reviewed by Phoebe Pettingell An account of Lord Byron's sexual escapades sounds like a perverse soap opera performed at triple speed...
...NL, 923 Kensington Ave...
...Although he was flattered by women who threw themselves at his head, he was secretly shocked by their lack of restraint...
...Henry Blyth, in Caro: The Fatal Passion, tells the familiar tale of madcap and slightly mad Caroline, lacing it with plentiful doses of modern psychology...
...The five young bohemians spend the summer taking drugs, practicing free love and engaging in mystical experiments...
...The scene now shifts to the romantic castle of Chillon in Switzerland...
...Byron's Daughter, as the title implies, assumes the question has been settled beyond a reasonable doubt, but in fact it is still open to debate...
...As for Shelley, suffice it to say that he tells Mary when they are in bed together: "We shall love eternally...
...her daughter, Ada, later Countess Lovelace, destined to be a talented mathematician and secret gambler...

Vol. 55 • December 1972 • No. 24


 
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