5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A good book, a sad story,
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This review is from: Young Romantics: The Tangled Lives of English Poetry's Greatest Generation (Hardcover)
While the Romantics have been Done to Death, praises rendered, blame assigned and so on, this book seeks to put them in context of their time and place and their relationships w/ one another. It begins w/ a Lesser Life (to paraphrase Diane Johnson's book) that of Leigh Hunt, a man older than the young Romantics, and his pivotal role in connecting this group. And the book ventures into other Lesser Lives that had profound effects upon the Romantics. Even if the story of rebellion, free love, great literature and major tragedies of this group are well known to the reader, this book offers a fresh, balanced and well written overview of intersecting fates, not all of which produced great literature. In fact, one individual who never published anything about these years and these people is rewarded here with the last word.
For the informed reader, this book presents a refreshing perspective. For the reader new to these lives, it's an invaluable introduction. That said, I do wish Ms. Hay had quoted more from the actual letters of these eloquent writers. She paraphrases continually, and while this may have been an editorial decision, the paraphrasing creates and maintains distance between the reader and the Romantics.
While the book effectively closes with the deaths of Shelley and Byron, the last chapter here about who owns the past was a fascinating exploration of those who lived on. As ever, who tells the story will dictate finally which story gets told. A wonderful, fascinating book, well written and a unique take on a story of great literature and sad lives.