Monday, 22 March 2010

Love at First Write - Sept 4th 1811

Here's an early letter, Murray to Byron sept 4th 1811...before publication of Childe Harold, before they reivented themselves in each other's company. Leave alone for a moment that Murray is asking Byron to tone down his satire a little...just feel the tone...

"I send the proof of your Lordship's poem which is so good as to be entitled to all your care as to render perfect. Besides its general merits, there are parts, which i am tempted to beliecve, far excel anything that your Lordship has hitherto published, and it were grievous indeed if you do not condescend to bestow upon it all of the improvement of which your Lordship's mind is so capable"
Two years later, Byron wrote The Corsair in 12 days. Murray him offered a thousand guineas for it, but Byron said that was too much for two weeks work...

Murray to to Byron Feb 13th 1814 on The Corsair
"Never in my recollection has any work excited such a ferment - a ferment which I am happy to say will subside into lasting fame. I sold, on the day of publication - a thing quite unprecedented - 10000 copies. My only regret is that you were not present to witness it"
Already, fame had its first victim, and Byron was now in the paradoxical position of perpetuating his legend even as he tried to run away from it.

We can chart their relationship, not so much by the content of the letters, but by Murray's tone, by his reinvention of himself as the kind of man Lord Byron might actually LIKE.

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