2008: 165. Lord Byron’s Novel

“Observe! But no! No one may observe, save the unfeeling Moon, who sails without progress through the clouds -” 

Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, John Crowley

So this is pretty presumptuous- Crowley wrote a novel that presumed to be a missing novel by Byron.  Bookending the story are notes to the novel, presumably written by Ada, Byron’s daughter, who never knew him.  Bookending those notes are modern framing story (told largely through emails), about the people who found the novel - they are interested in Ada, not the poet.  It seems (and this is true) that Ada was mathematician (her mother who had grown to hate Byron, pushed her away from the arts to the sciences), and was the first to write something approximating a computer program.  In the novel, the modern characters come upon some papers of Ada’s, in which they find a draft of Byron’s novel, which Ada when dying of cancer translated into computer code, to hide from her mother and prevent its destruction (this is the untrue part).  So there is a lot going on here, and it is clever, I guess, but it isn’t really that enjoyable.  Which is to say, it was probably a great deal of fun for Crowley (who I gather is a big Byron fan) to write, but that it doesn’t offer much to the reader.  Byron’s novel is melodramatic fluff, and nothing great, and while the part about Ada’s longing for the father she never knew is the best part of the book, it is only there through cryptic endnotes, and very expository emails in the modern section.  And the modern section, though it contains a second estranged father/daughter relationship, really only seems to be there to exposit about Byron and Ada.  I read this because I had been recommended a different Crowley novel, and this is the only one the library had.  It did nothing to convince me to seek out other books by the author.  This one is for Byron-philes only (and do such people even exist?)??


Date/Place Completed: 10/29/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Library Book


© Carrie Dunsmore 2017