Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Read some Byron, Shelley and Keats

Actually just some Byron, but some lyrics stick in your head. No prizes for identifying it, just the glory.


I have been reading Byron, the 1st Canto of Don Juan to be precise and it's very, very funny. Although only the dedication and 1st Canto are set texts for my course, I think I might have to read the rest too. Byron's world-weary narrator is pretty cynical, though on the whole not cruel. The way it's written is brilliant. The tone is so fresh and conversational, yet the rhymes are obviously carefully chosen. This stanza from Canto 1 (a description of Juan's mother, Donna Inez) made me laugh out loud with its audacity.

Her favourite science was the mathematical,
Her noblest virtue was her magnanimity,
Her wit (she sometimes tried at wit) was Attic all,
Her serious sayings darken'd to sublimity;
In short, in all things she was fairly what I call
A prodigy -- her morning dress was dimity,
Her evening silk, or, in the summer, muslin,
And other stuffs, with which I won't stay puzzling.

So, to all (Well maybe not quite all, it's also quite rude.) I say, go and read some Byron. It'll make you laugh.

Or alternatively, go and read Tristram Shandy. My course notes draw a comparison between the two since both constantly wander away from the narrative on digressions. I'm looking forward to Michael Winterbottom's film, A Cock and Bull Story which comes out this week. There was a review on Front Row last night and it sounds fun, if you can put up with Steve Coogan. The only worry I have is that it'll just be Coogan doing the same sort of unreliable narrator thing he did in 24 Party People (same director, lots of the same actors too). But to make a film from an unfilmable book is an achievement and worth a look if, like me, you love the book in question.

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