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Byron and Greek Love : Homophobia in 19th-century England - Louis Crompton

Byron and Greek Love

Homophobia in 19th-century England

Paperback Published: 10th March 1998
ISBN: 9780854492633
Number Of Pages: 429

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A highly praised and very readable exploration of Lord Byron and his time."A distinguished specimen of gay history" -- New York Review of BooksMaking use of previously unpublished letters from the poet and his circle, Louis Crompton traces Byron's many homoerotic involvements. He argues that Byron's homosexuality was a motive for his first journey to Greece and his later ostracism and exile from England, and an important source for the mood of proud alienation that colors his serious poetry. Byron and Greek Love is at once a fascinating biography and an incisive social commentary; its far-reaching implications for the social and cultural history of early 19th-century England have been widely acclaimed. Original hardback edition was published by University of California Press (1985).

Two separate books, plus a long article on Bentham, not quite fused into a single volume - but they all have their interest. Crompton (English, U. of Nebraska) provides a thorough, balanced overview of Byron's homosexuality, drawing especially on the scholarship of Leslie Marchand and Doris Langley Moore, and puts Byron in the context of the savage (though erratic) judicial persecution of gays that prevailed in his lifetime. Byron's pederasty - he never loved older men - alternated throughout his life with his much more notorious womanizing. His first great passion was for John Edlestone, a 15-year-old Trinity College chorister, whom Byron first met in 1805 and whose death from consumption in 1810 inspired the "Thyrza" elegies. On his first trip to Greece there were, among others, Eustathius Georgiou ("a temperamental, effeminate youngster") and Nicolo Giraud, a more enterprising lad to whom Byron initially willed the staggering sum of (UKP)7,000. And finally there was the unrequited love for Lukas Chalandrutsanos, which ended only with Byron's death in Missolonghi. All these affairs were known before, but Crompton shows how large a role they played in Byron's life: homoerotic longings helped draw him to the East; confession of his homosexual "sins" to Lady Caroline Lamb, once divulged, sparked the scandal that drove him from England; and guilt and confusion over his sexual identity - more than incest with his half-sister Augusta - lay at the root of his gloomy, tormented "Byronism." As for the pillorying (sometimes fatal) and hanging, not to mention brutal ostracism, of sodomites, Crompton argues convincingly that all this made Byron and his similarly inclined friends hypercautious, fearful, and sometimes even homophobic. The only trouble is, Crompton sketches in far more of this background (the most engrossing part of his story) than he needs to explain Byron; and the long quotations and paraphrases from Jeremy Bentham's vast notes on homosexuality - a farsighted text, but never published - often border on irrelevancy. Still: a fairminded, enlightening study. (Kirkus Reviews)

Acknowledgments and Permissions
List of Abbreviations
Introductionp. 1
Georgian Homophobiap. 12
Byron at Schoolp. 63
To the Eastp. 107
England and "Thyrza"p. 158
Fame and Exilep. 196
Perspectives: 1816-1821p. 236
"Not Paul but Jesus"p. 251
Shelley - Clogher - Castlereaghp. 284
Love and Death in Missolonghip. 312
Epilogue: The Truth Appearsp. 338
The Bentham Manuscriptsp. 383
Indexp. 387
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780854492633
ISBN-10: 0854492631
Series: Bibliothek S.
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 429
Published: 10th March 1998
Publisher: Millivres-Prowler Group Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 20.0 x 12.7  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.52
Edition Type: New edition