Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lord Byron is Haunting My Book Cover!

For the past two weeks, I've been reading Jane Austen's Emma in my Romantic Comedies class. This is the last of Austen's books I've had to read, and I was enjoying how well it was written and all the little bits with Mr. Knightly. However, I started to notice something odd about the actual edition we were reading from for the class.

We were reading from an Oxford World's Classic edition. My professor obviously chose it for the excellent notes and background information (including a comparison to Much Ado About Nothing, our first reading of the semester). The woman on the cover is not someone I could picture Emma actually looking like. Her chin is too round and strong, her cheeks too flushed, her look too manly. Not that Emma is a dainty creature. But this woman is not exactly right. While I happen to admit I am a picky cover art person, this one was bothering me more than I imagined it would. Picture us all in a board room type classroom, with one long shiny, wooden table for almost twenty of us to squeeze into, bumping each other constantly with huge leather spinning chairs. Now picture all of our books laid out on the table, all those Oxford World's Classic Emma's displayed at every angle - even reflected by the table.

There was another face I was seeing while staring at the multiple covers across from me. Upside down. And I gasped when I first saw that familiar face. I wanted to jump out of my chair, knocking the two people next to me, shouting, "Guys, did you notice this? Her face, when it's upside down, looks just like Lord Byron!" It was so obvious to me that I wanted to scream. To try and demonstrate the likeness to you, dear readers, I took a picture of the books side by side - Emma upside down and Lord Byron rightside up. If you can't see the similarities for whatever reason, imagine Emma at a distance (like, across a table). That might work better.

Lord Byron. One of the great Romantic poets. You might be familiar with him. Some of you might wish to have known him... perhaps in more ways than a simple hello (I mean, yeah, of course). If you don't know who he is, I suggest you search him when you have free time. I'm a huge Romanticism buff, which is why I say that, but it's an understatement to say that the Romantics have influenced us all. There. My tiny speech, haha.

And I found this bit from one of his long poems, Don Juan, that seems to me to echo the prank he was playing by showing his face to a tired grad student:

"Thus would he while his lonely hours away
Dissatisfied, nor knowing what he wanted;
Nor glowing reverie, nor poet's lay,
Could yield his spirit that for which it panted.
A bosom whereon he his head might lay,
And here the heart beat with the love it granted,
With - several other things, which I forget,
Or which, at least, I need not mention yet."

So I'm trying to imply, by his own words, that perhaps he was terribly bored and lonely. He could have left me alone to taking my notes on Emma in peace. But he reared his ugly (maybe) head just to get a reaction out of me. Maybe he hoped it was love, but I assure you it wasn't. I spent such an intense semester in my senior year of college studying the Romantics. When I see a picture or stumble upon a poem, I smile because it's like seeing an old friend. And, romantic wise, I'd probably sooner go on a date with Shelley or Keats (or even my favorite unknown Romantic poet, Thomas Lovell Beddoes) before ever putting my hand in Lord Byron's. He's just trouble.


  1. Lord Byron crops up everywhere. Apparently, he attended dear old Cambridge, because I came across a note written in his ten year old hand on behalf of his mother. His handwriting is perfection. Never trust a man whose ten year old hand was perfect. (Or who is impersonating Emma Woodhouse on a novel cover.)

  2. Hahaha! This made me laugh out loud. Oh, my. I do see the similarities! I always knew Byron was a bit of a creeper... I'd take Keats or Shelley any day too. :)

    I just recently read Emma for school as well! (I didn't like my cover either.) It was all rather a farce, though, since I had read it before, seen two movie adaptions numerous times AND been in the play. So most of the time I just answered the questions on it without even reading it. =D
    Don't you love Mr. Knightley? He's my favourite Austen hero! Jeremy Northam does my favourite portrayal of him. *dreamy sigh*
    Also, Miss Bates amuses me greatly. That was the role I was when I was in the play. Hands down one of my most favourite characters to play.

  3. haha I love this, and I definitely see it :)

  4. @Ashley Okay, good! I'm so glad I'm not the only one! Wow, it must have been something to see little Byron's handwriting. But, yes, you're so right. He's too neat. Suspicious! Your last comment, about anyone impersonating Emma, made me almost spit out my drink laughing. It's essentially what I wrote my post about in a nutshell... but to just have it bluntly said was just hilarious :D

    @Melee Hahaha, yes, he would be a creeper. There's just so much more Keats and Shelley have to offer. Plus, I'm not into the tall, dark and handsome men. They're too mainstream (Did I just say that? Hahaha!).

    Ah, then book publishers must really be failing. I mean, there are so many choices, and they choose pictures that just seem totally off. How strange. Yeah, I love Austen adaptations - all of them. I can never choose a favorite because there is something great about each version. Jeremy Northam IS pretty awesome, but I also like Mark Strong as well (there's something about him. I don't know).

    I have to say that my favorite Austen hero is Mr. Tilney. I'd choose him over anyone :) I should probably post about him at some point, a grand Northanger Abbey sweep. J.J. Feild is the best (and only recent) actor to portray him :D

    Miss Bates! Yes! That must have been so much fun!

    @somemaysayimadreamer Yay! I'm glad :)

  5. Hahaha! I totally understand that, though.

    Yeah, most of the time I highly doubt that the people who choose the book covers have actually read the book. Especially when it specifically states what the main characters look like and the people on front look the total opposite. I suppose it's not really that important... (but it is.)
    I actually didn't really like Mark Strong as Mr. Knightley. He just seemed so angry all the time. But it's been a while since I've seen that version.

    Mr. Tilney! Good choice. He's definitely my second favourite. Got to love a man who knows about woman's clothing and reads novels! ;)
    I saw the version with J. J. Feild! He was excellent.

    It was amazing! :)

  6. haha, lord byron as emma - I'm sure his bad boy self would have loved that comparison :)

  7. I haven't really read much romantic poetry. I have an old book full of Byron's poems that somehow found its way onto my bookshelf, but I've never touched it. The resemblance between Oxford edition Emma and Byron is uncanny.

    I'm not the most avid reader of poetry. I like it, but I feel that I'm not good at reading it. I don't know if that makes any sense.

  8. @Melee Haha! You're so right! Mark Strong was an angry Mr. Knightly. For sure. And believe me, I'm not into tempers, but perhaps it was when he was calm that he appealed to me. And it was the first version of Emma I had ever seen. That makes a difference too, I suppose :)

    Yessss! I'm a Mr. Tilney fangirl, haha. I think he needs more attention (Northanger Abbey is so sadly forgotten in everyday Austen conversations). Yes, a good man knows his muslin. And BOOKS. Yes. :)

    @hila Ah, he probably would! I'm sure he's smirking right now :D

    @Tin Kettle Inn I highly recommend Romantic poetry - and I'm really not a poetry person. I'd like to suggest a good anthology, but those usually publish only the popular poems and not the good stuff (as I claim, haha). I guess browsing Poem Hunter with the poets names should do the job. Hm. I don't know who to recommend :)

    Haha, Lord Byron probably put the collection there himself. Check the back. He must have signed it :D

    I feel like I've gotten to love poetry after the burden of having to analyze it was lifted off of my shoulders. I can just enjoy the imagery and the sounds instead of figuring it out. And that makes me a happy camper. It's also a nice break from fiction (which I love and live in, but everyone needs a breather sometimes).

    I've been finding myself reading poets biographies. Weird, since I should be looking up novelists' bios instead. I've eaten through Amy Lowell, John Keats, and recently Sara Teasdale. Gah. And they were so good :D

  9. I do see the similarities, you have quite the eye! Oh, the things which pop up out of boredom.

    xx and hugs


  10. Hey Kim, this is just to tell you I gave you an award on my latest blog post. :)