Lord Byron’s Letters

Filed under: Other Writers/Books — joy at 8:28 am on Wednesday, October 28, 2009

word pirates lord byron

NPR has a fascinating little snippet on the letters of Lord Byron, which are going to be auctioned off soon. They are to a clergyman Byron corresponded with, and are full of tales about cities he visited, thoughts on Christianity, stories of botched love affairs, and literary gossip–Byron called Wordsworth “Turdsworth.” Ha! It’s worth a listen.

That Movie About Keats

Filed under: Other Writers/Books — joy at 8:28 am on Friday, September 18, 2009

The NYTimes likes Bright Star, the new movie about the life of Keats. It looks horribly sentimental and mushy, but not so, says AO Scott:

This is a risky project, not least because a bog of cliché and fallacy lies between the filmmaker and her goal. In the first decades of the 19th century, some poets may have been like movie stars, but the lives of the poets have been, in general, badly served on film, either neglected altogether or puffed up with sentiment and solemnity. The Regency period, moreover, serves too many lazy, prestige-minded directors as a convenient vintage clothing store. And there are times in “Bright Star” when Keats, played by the pale and skinny British actor Ben Whishaw (“Perfume,” “I’m Not There”), trembles on the edge of caricature. He broods; he coughs (signaling the tuberculosis that will soon kill him); he looks dreamily at flowers and trees and rocks.

But these moments, rather than feeling studied or obvious, arrive with startling keenness and disarming beauty, much in the way that Keats’s own lyrics do. His verses can at first seem ornate and sentimental, but on repeated readings, they have a way of gaining in force and freshness. The music is so intricate and artificial, even as the emotions it carries seem natural and spontaneous. And while no film can hope to take you inside the process by which these poems were made, Ms. Campion allows you to hear them spoken aloud as if for the first time. You will want to stay until the very last bit of the end credits, not necessarily to read the name of each gaffer and grip, but rather to savor every syllable of Mr. Whishaw’s recitation of “Ode to a Nightingale.”

Sigh. Now I am going to have to see this movie…