CONVERSATIONS WITH LORD BYRON ON PERVERSION, 163 YEARS AFTER HIS LORDSHIP'S DEATH by Amanda Prantera

CONVERSATIONS WITH LORD BYRON ON PERVERSION, 163 YEARS AFTER HIS LORDSHIP'S DEATH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fluffy literary whimsy: a fanciful theory about the One Great Romance in Lord Byron's life--with the true story recalled, supposedly, by a ""Byron"" computer-program in an Artificial Intelligence experiment. Every bit of Byron data, you see, has been fed into the ""LB"" program, along with a ""three-level memory,"" ""mood parameters,"" etc. The research team (two scientists, one literary expert) can now ask the computer all the Big Questions from Byron scholarship: To whom were the ""Thyrza"" verses addressed? Who was Byron's greatest love? Was he bisexual? Why did he leave 1809 England in such a hurry? The computer's responses, however, are terse, inconclusive, even oddly evasive. And the real answers emerge instead in chapters of silent reminiscence--as the ""LB"" program secretly remembers: Byron's first year at Cambridge as ""a lame, shy, fat and bookish Lord with very little cash""; his odd infatuation with choirboy John Edleston, ""bony but beautiful""; his refusal to surrender to homosexual lust (""pederasty was not for him""), despite enduring--and requited--love for Edleston; and the revelation of Edleston's great secret (hinted at furiously throughout). The fantasy premise here--a computer that somehow knows more than it should--seems more clumsy device than fetching inspiration. The Byron memoir itself is mostly implausible, dangerously cutesy, and very predictable (especially if you've seen Victor/Victoria). So, though less pretentious than Strange Loop and The Cabalist, this stylish, occasionally amusing trifle is primarily for Byron-bio aficionados only--some of whom may be deterred by the computer-heavy opening chapters.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1987
Publisher: Atheneum