Toward the end of his short life, Gordon, Lord Byron was not only out of his country and out of favour, self-exiled in Italy, but also out of his own time. Philosopically, he belonged to a world that was fast disappearing as his greatest poem appeared in the press. The world that T H White designated “The Age of Scandal”.
Yet the intelligence, humanity, sharp satire and engaging poetry of his comic epic did not date (unlike, say, Melanie’s bonnet). It had only to bide its time; until English taste — in the last quarter of the 19th century — was once more educated by the kind of worldly experience Byron had won at great personal cost half a century earlier.
Byron Bits No 10 is devoted, mostly, to a single passage in Canto XI of Don Juan where Byron seems nostalgic for the scandalous denizens of the London monde before the defeat of Napoleon. But also cleverly, presciently, scornful of the tawdry, badly-behaved characters who followed (some of them the same characters, but shrunk).
As usual, please click on the “play” button to listen to my short talk here (below) or download the MP3 file (about 11Mb). The text of the talk is also available below.