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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lord Byron: Bipolar beliefs

(George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron)
Long before there was an Elvis Presley, there was a George Noel Gordon (aka "Lord Byron").

In his article titled Lord Byron: The Demons of Calvinism, Gary Sloan portrays Gordon as having love/hate tendencies towards religion and practically everything else.

Sloan portrays Gordon's personality as "an amalgam"of these polarized traits:  "cruelty and kindness; misanthropy and
philanthropy; cynicism and idealism; affectation and sincerity; arrogance and self-mockery; pettiness and magnanimity;
intemperance and asceticism; self-pity and courage."

He links many of these opposing traits to Byron's equally-charged relationship with religion.  After being indoctrinated into
Calvinism early on by "a pious, domineering mother" (and by "a string of Presbyterian tutors and Scripture-quoting nurses"), young Gordon concluded that "he was irremediably damned."  He was convinced that his clubfoot was a "mark of Cain."

His strong sense of instilled morality, along with his belief that he was "foredoomed to evil, led Byron to lead a tortured life – "oscillating between 'ungodly glee' and self-loathing."

The poet's keen sense of observation and analysis somewhat tempered this cycle.  Gordon often noted the shortcomings of many around him who claimed Calvinistic righteousness, and unfavorably compared them to some better-behaved secular philosophers and adherents of other faiths


Copyright January 22, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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