Byron before Byron

Byron’s early poems – his so-called ’dark tales’ – have been dismissed by critics as the tawdry, slapdash products of an uninteresting mind, and readers ever since have found it difficult not to see them in light of the poet’s dramatic and public later life. In a recent piece for the LRB, Clare Bucknell looked past the famous biography to observe the youthful Byron’s mind at work in poems such as The Giaour (1813), The Corsair (1814) and Lara (1814), where early versions of the Byronic hero were often characterised by passivity, rumination and choicelessness.

Clare discusses the piece with Tom, and talks about her new Close Readings series, On Satire, with Colin Burrow, which features Don Juan alongside works by Jane Austen, Laurence Sterne, John Donne, Muriel Spark and others.

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