Monday, 22 March 2010

The John Murray Archive is a Love Story!

I have known Byron all my life; one of my first childhood memories is the bust of Byron standing on the landing below my nursery....Byron is therefore a little on my mind.
English Association 1976 - John Murray 6, known to all as Jock, is making a lunchtime speech

John Murray 6
Ah me what perils do environ
the man who meddles with lord Byron

These perils have continued without interruption since his death: the burning of his memnoirs - indeed, quite a number of burnings throughout the 19th century (and beyond)...and now the quieter controversy about the relative importance to us of his life or of his work which divides the present day critics..
as though they were not two sides of the same coin, of the same personality; and now also the warmer, fashionable
controversy of whether Byron was homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, ambisexual - or perhaps just all embracing".
Not the point, I think. and I don't think our curiosity about Byron's sexuality is just prurience...whether we're being curious about a poet, a general, an axe murderer or a more conventional celeb, we're doing something human. We are experiencing ourselves DIFFERENTLY through these figures, through heroes and villains...we explore the limits of who it is possible to be, how it is possible to act...readers recreate THEMSELVES through the work in relation to the personality of the author. It's ourselves we are interested in when we construct an image of a writer...or an actor...who we imagine to be our friend, who we imagine to have found something interesting in US.

How did Caroline Lamb, John Murray, re-experienced themselves with Byron...I think that's the point...I think that's what was new...I doubt if anyone changed their life because of George Herbert.

The close identification of Byron with his heroes...Childe Harold, Cain, Manfred, Don Juan...provoked a peculiar intensity.

The John Murray Archive is a Love story!

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