Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Byron and Augusta: an incestuous love
Lord Byron. Image from Google
After the death of his mother, Byron drew closer to his half sister, Augusta. Now his only living relative, Augusta was married to her cousin Captain George Leigh, who spent most of his time gambling and drinking. For years older than Byron, Augusta, with her chestnut hair and large eyes, was said to resemble a female version of him. Separated s children, they became closer as they grew older, and Byron formed a deep attachment for her. In june of 1813, she arrived in London to ask him for help (...)
Byron explored his incestuous feelings in The Bride of Abydos, 1200 lines of poetry that he claimed to have written in four nights. Though set in Turkey, it told of a love between cousins who had been raised together as brother and sister. (In his original draft, the lovers had actually been brother and sister.) Byron portrays Zuleika´s passionate love for her cousin Selim in words that shocked his readers.
Thy cheek, thine eyes, thy lips to kiss,
Like this -and this- no more than this,
For, Allah! sure thy lips are flame,
What fever in thy veins is flushing?
My own have nearly caught the same,
At least I feel my cheek, too, blushing.
Augusta Leigh. Picture from ufv.ca
Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. The Monsters. Chapter The Most Dangerous Man in Europe. P. 120-121