I am St. Irvyne

A Comic Curiosity

The following may be of interest, gentle friends, especially if you are among the devotees of comic books (in which case you may be way ahead of me, but just in case):

Several comic book artists and writers have created works in which members of the (original) Shelley Circle figure as characters. I was aware of some of them. Of David Vandermeulen and Daniel Casenave, the author and artist responsible for "Romantica tome 1: Percy Shelley" and "Romantica tome 2: Mary Shelley", I knew nothing until yesterday.

Then I landed on an amusing Amazon review of the second volume by a M.René Perceur, which may be consulted in the original French here

He wrote it on January 7th, 2013. There is an English translation, by my inconsiderable self, posted over at m' journal st_irvyne. I provide pictures of the covers, with a small example of the art.

'Frankensteinia: The Frankenstein Blog' has no connection to me whatsoever, but it does have a review - in English - of the first volume, dated October 15, 2012, here.

Now, at the end of this informative post, I am ready to retire (to a sofa, not a bed, as it happens, and - I report with a measure of wistfulness - the arms not of La Morphise but of Morpheus).
  • Current Music
    Symphonie No IX (Malpighi) - The Oreilles Symphony Orchestra
I am St. Irvyne

Incarnations of Immorality...

My ethereal friends, be not offended (too much) by my tawdry play on words. I might have said "fanfic spill" or "Shelley slash" either - for reasons that will become clear to you, should you elect to follow the link I will provide below. Quite by accident I came across a review of a play by Darrah Teitel, "The Apology", and thought it might be of interest to at least some members of the Shelley Circle. I have been known to be dreadfully wrong. Why, only on Tuesday last... But in this instance I strongly suspect the ingredients of the substance offered here are sure to prove me right.

The review of this play, by Mr Louis Hobson, appeared in the Calgary Sun, in March of 2013. It may be perused here.

So, are we at the intersection of art and fanfic (or slash, if you will)? I suppose that if anyone knows whether Darrah Teitel ever authored any "RPF", that information would be welcome here. Is that mere prurience on my part? This seems a good moment to exit stage left, pursued by... Surely not a bear, let's say an Imp of Bad Conscience?
  • Current Music
    The roar of the greasepaint.
I am St. Irvyne

Shelley's "Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things"

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce myself. I'm a man of wealth and tas wait, no, that's a bit iffy...
I am St. Irvyne, and I have recently joined this community.
*bows to the several bots sitting around, looking expectant*

You may have heard that Mr Coleridge was to lecture here, this windy November evening. I grieve to say there has been some sort of mix-up. Mr Coleridge is prevented, dear friends, and there is none of comparable stature to replace him. All I am able to offer you, having rushed here from Porlock, is a smidgen of news which I can but hope will prove of interest to such discerning members of the Circle...

Without further ado:

In 1811, 'a Gentleman of Oxford University' published a pamphlet of a rather political nature, entitled "Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things"(consisting of a 172-line poem, an essay and notes; twenty pages in all). Not many people were aware, at the time - or indeed for about seven decades to come, that Shelley was the person veiled by that designation of authorship.

The work, which had soon become hard to obtain, was eventually considered lost. Then, in 2006, a copy turned up in a private collection. Only a mere handful of academics has had access to it in all that time. Recently, the Bodleian Library acquired (by purchase or donation, accounts differ) this only known copy of the pamphlet. They have put it on display until 23 December next, and have digitised the text - with a view, it seems, to allowing wider access.

Read a Guardian article on this

Aquaint yourself with the text

*slips away unnoticed*
  • Current Music
    A clock ticks, close by.
Bright and calm day

Crede Byron...

Our remaining Moderatrix, wanderingmoon, would appear to have... wandered. Last active in 2009 I believe. I thought it worth pointing out that L.J. Webb's site Crede Byron, an excellent site mentioned in the links section of this august Circle's profile page, is still up, but now at another address, http://www.praxxis.co.uk/credebyron/
  • Current Music
    Not a note, not just now.


您好!推荐一个唯美的艺术网站,希望您能够喜欢它。谢谢!杨玉琪:英国剑桥 终身院士、美国ABI世界名人中心 终身院士、国际华人美术家协会 主席、www.yangyuqi888.com

Hello! Recommend a beautiful art site, hope you like it. Thank you! Yang Yuqi: Cambridge, UK Life Fellow, American Academy of ABI world famous center of life, the International President of the Chinese Artists Association, www.yangyuqi888.com

Happy 217th Birthday, Shelley

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I meant to post this in the morning, but had to go to work. I was actually looking for a different poem. All I remember is that the speaker is being cared for by a nurse, but unfortunately I don't have my collection of Shelley's poetry at work. Feel free to post your favourite poems, anecdotes, thoughts, whatever else comes to mind. :)

Mad, bad, and dangerous...

Mad, bad, and dangerous, he understood what women wanted.
By Katha PollittUpdated Monday, July 13, 2009, at 9:29 AM ET

Edna O'Brien's Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life.Not many writers furnish enough material for a biography focused entirely on their love lives. In his short life (1788-1824), George Gordon, Lord Byron, managed to cram in just about every sort of connection imaginable—unrequited pinings galore; affairs with aristocrats, actresses, servants, landladies, worshipful fans, and more in almost as many countries as appear on Don Giovanni's list; plus countless one-offs with prostitutes and purchased girls; a brief, disastrous marriage; and an incestuous relationship with his half-sister. And that's just the women! It's a wonder he found the time, considering everything else on his plate. He composed thousands of pages of dazzling poetry, traveled restlessly on the continent and in the Middle East, maintained complex relationships with friends and hangers-on, wrote letters and kept diaries and read books constantly, boxed and took fencing lessons and swam, drank (prodigiously), suffered bouts of depression and paranoia and physical ill-health, and, in his later years, joined in Italian and Greek liberation struggles. Just tending the menagerie that he liked to have about him—monkeys, parrots and macaws, dogs, a goat, a heron, even, while he was a student at Cambridge, a bear—would have driven a lesser man to distraction.

But, then, Byron was exceptional from the beginning. His childhood was like something out of a Gothic novel. His mother, Catherine Gordon, a Scottish heiress, married "Mad Jack" Byron, a rackety aristocrat who quickly ran through her money and fled to France. She gave birth to George, her only child, alone, in rented rooms in London. Temperamental and imprudent, Catherine gets a bad rap from biographers, as most mothers do; she was certainly no match for her high-strung, willful son, who hated her, unfairly blaming her corseting during pregnancy for his withered left leg and club foot.

At 10, upon the death of his great-uncle, a supposed murderer known as the Wicked Lord (where's Ann Radcliffe when you need her?), he became the sixth Baron Byron and owner of Newstead Abbey, a grand semi-ruin in Nottinghamshire, complete with monkish ghosts. One of the many contradictions in his deeply divided nature was that the world-famous champion of liberty took extraordinary pride in his rank: He was forever commissioning ostentatious furniture with the family crest and motto ("Crede Byron") and stormed out of a dinner party abroad because local protocol demanded that a lower-born diplomat precede him into the dining room.

From an early age, Byron had established what was to be a romantic pattern: "mooning love for cousins" and a neighbor, Mary Chaworth, and sex with varying degrees of emotional intensity—from extravagant passion to callous brutality—with pretty much anyone ready to hand, beginning with Newstead servants of both sexes and fellow students at Harrow and Cambridge. Once the publication of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage made him a celebrity, at the age of 24—"I awoke one morning to find myself famous," he quipped—"the fugue of women," as Edna O'Brien cleverly calls it in her brief new biography, began in earnest.

There was the piquant and capricious Lady Caroline Lamb, who famously described him as "mad—bad—dangerous to know," which is just what he would come to say about her. As his ardor cooled, she became obsessed and vindictive, staging public scenes and persecuting him with letters, sudden visits, and, eventually, a scandalous roman à clef. He escaped Lady Caroline by flinging himself into the arms of Lady Oxford, a powerful free-thinking political hostess and beautiful 38-year-old mother of six. "We lived like the gods in Lucretius," he would say of the seven or eight idyllic months they spent in her country house.But these affairs (and others) paled beside his incestuous affair with Augusta, Mad Jack's daughter, five years older, married, the mother of four, whom he came to know for the first time in London in 1813: "And so it is Guss and Goose and Baby Byron and foolery and giggles, Augusta wearing the new dresses and silk shawls he has bought for her, the thrill of showing her off to the acerbic hostesses, home in his carriage at five or six in the morning ... and somehow it happened, the transition from affection to something dangerous. Never, he said, 'was seduction so easy.' "

Why, given all this excitement, Byron chose to marry Lady Caroline's prim, religious cousin, Annabella Milbanke, is a mystery. Perhaps he hoped marriage would quiet rumors—incest was a bit much even for the cynical Regency grandees among whom he moved. Perhaps it was a gesture of despair, with a bit of fortune-hunting thrown in. In any case, the marriage was a nightmare, beginning with the bridegroom pacing the halls with loaded pistols on his wedding night and culminating in Annabella's departure, newborn infant Ada in tow, after only 16 months. In her legal case for a separation she accused Byron of ongoing incest with Augusta and appalling maltreatment of every kind, culminating in anal rape two days after she gave birth.

Ostracized by those who had lionized him, Byron left England, never to return. Further adventures and abuses followed, the worst of which was probably his cruelty toward Mary Shelley's stepsister, Jane Clairmont, who bore him a daughter, Allegra. Rather than financially assisting Jane in raising the child, which he could easily have afforded to do, he took custody and refused to answer Jane's increasingly pathetic letters begging for news; he soon handed Allegra off to assorted others before sending her to a convent school, where she died, unvisited by anyone but Shelley, at age 5. By then he had settled down with the young, beautiful, married Italian countess Teresa Guiccioli. Tellingly, though, the last love of his life, as unrequited as the first, was for Lukas—a teenager attached to the ragtag army Byron raised in his botched attempt to liberate Greece—who was with Byron at his death at 36 of fever in Missolonghi.

O'Brien relates all this and much else in a headlong sensuous rush, almost like one of her own novels. It's fun to read, but I could have done with more digging and thinking. Unlike Fiona MacCarthy's terrific Byron: Life and Legend, Byron in Love makes little of Byron's homosexuality, which was far more extensive than O'Brien chronicles. For MacCarthy, indeed, his frenetic heterosexuality was due at least partly to British sodomy laws, which carried the death penalty; his passions for women were brief, and his behavior to them cruel and capricious, because he really wanted to be with teenage boys.

O'Brien also, inexplicably, mentions only on Page 186 that at the age of 9 or 10 Byron had been repeatedly sexually abused, as well as ferociously beaten, by his nanny, May Gray: "In the daytime she fed him dire Calvinist sermons, providing an uncomprehending brew of guilt and desire, alternating with scenes of jealousy as she brought home drunken coach boys from Nottingham to carouse with." Whether or not this weird coerced initiation lay behind Byron's frequently expressed sense of lost youth and jaded emotions, it certainly explains why he thought religion was rubbish and women's supposed purity a lie.

It is easy to see Byron as a cad, a narcissist and, at bottom, a misogynist. But that would be unfair. Byron's great insight, in an era where women were expected to be placid and insipid (not that they were!), was to see that women were much like men: They wanted sex and went after it eagerly, if secretly. Don Juan, his great satiric novel in verse, is a virtual catalog of passionate women who are anything but bashful, even if still virginal, and who are presented without condemnation, as human beings doing what human beings do. He understood, too, how limited was women's scope for action. "Man's love is of man's life a thing apart," writes Juan's first love, the married Donna Julia, from the convent to which she is confined when their affair is discovered. " 'Tis woman's whole existence."

Byron's electrifying effect on women readers was inspired not just by his handsomeness, his woundedness, and the exciting hope of reforming him, which was poor Annabella's undoing. It was also due to his frankness, that sense his poetry gave that he understood his reader's secret rebellious thoughts and longings for experience, pleasure, a life beyond tea tables. It wasn't only the Greeks who found in him a champion of freedom.

One final note: O'Brien has little to say about Byron's poetry, but without it, he would be just another eccentric milord. To find out what all the fuss was about, pick up a copy of Don Juan. It's as fresh and sparkling and hilarious and sexy as the day it was published, and will make you wish the author was still around, so that you could write him a letter proposing a discreet assignation.


Keats in Hampstead

From WhatsonStage:

A drama about the love life of its most famous resident. Adapted from the letters and poetry of John Keats, Keats in Hampstead tells the story of the Romantic poet's love affair with his neighbour Fanny Brawne. The show takes place in the garden and audience members are encouraged to bring picnics. Included in the ticket price is entrance to the Keats House museum, which features relics, letters, books and manuscripts. This event takes place in Keats House, Hampstead

And from TheLondonPaper

Keats In Hampstead at Keats House runs from Friday, 24th July to Friday, 7th August at From Jul 24, Fri&Sat 6pm, mats Sat&Sun 3pm, ends Aug 7

Pricing: £7, concs £5, incl admission to Keats House Museum

Thought that might be of interest to people in London.

The BBC's Poetry Season may be over, but you can still vote for your favourite poet on their website. I would have voted for Shelley, but bizzarely, he isn't there. I was almost tempted to email them and ask why not. Byron, Keats, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Blake are all there, but no Shelley! Does anyone else think it's strange?