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Video Games and Lord Byron

July 16, 2010

I am engrossed in Byron today and have been staring at his picture, wondering about why he was so famous. I spent a little time trying to re-read Childe Harold and got bored fast. And my boredom worries me. It reminds me of how hard it is to bridge the gap between now and then, between me and Mary Shelley and Shelley and Claire Claremont. Everyone loved Byron’s poems. They were like candy. Why don’t I? I know my students would hate reading him, too. What is different about us? What has changed? Then I wonder what else I can’t understand about people in 1816, probably just about everything. But if I had the opportunity to chat with any of them, and ask them questions and explain myself, they would not be able to understand me, either. For instance, how explain the fact that I have to stop writing to drive to my son’s computer camp to see his final presentation, which, is not, in my experience, a gripping affair as the camp is run by tech geeks. Wonderful geeks who have all assumed the names of Star Wars characters (my son’s counselor is Yoda), but geeks all the same, who have no interest in charming parents with public displays of camp comraderie. There will be no slide shows. No songs. Instead, parents are invited to stare over their son’s shoulder (There are no girls.) at their son’s screens. So, at first count my afternoon contains at least 6 incomprehensible references for 19th century individuals: driving, Star Wars, slide shows, geeks, computers, yoda, screens. Again, I worry about how much I must be missing about the 19th century world, all the fixtures they took for granted that are invisible to me. Stage coaches. stays (as in underwear), chamber pots.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2010 5:18 pm

    The history of chamber pots would be revealing. Also, the history of bad teeth. Also, of cooking over an open flame in July, while wearing wool. Samuel Pepys is sort of good on all of these subjects, even when he doesn’t mention them.

  2. July 19, 2010 9:11 pm

    Maybe his writing isn’t that great. Maybe that’s why it’s hard to connect to. I do remember that the little bit of Byron I read in college was enlivened a LOT by having a prof who was passionate about Byron, and about his life.

    Byron was, I think, a celebrity in his day. He did some scandalous things in his life. Knowing that, getting caught up in that tends to add to the enjoyment. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good writing, but it adds to it.

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