Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Bizarre World of Algernon Charles Swinburne

One of the last short stories in Complete Original Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant is a story based on an 18 year de Maupassant's encounter with the decadent English poet, Algernon Charles Swinburne.

Prior to reading this story, I was unfamiliar with Swinburne. De Maupassant's description of the poet intrigued me enough to look into Swinburne's life and work. Poetry is my least favorite literary form, and I never read poetry, but I thought that I'd investigate this poet due to the fact that he had impressed de Maupassant.

Reading the wikipedia article on Swinburne changed my mind on any attempt to read his poetry. The article describes Swinburne as a sado-masochist and an alcoholic. De Maupassant's story mentions Swinburne's habit of eating monkey flesh, but the wikipedia article goes on to tell that at one point, Swinburne spread a rumor that he had had sex with monkeys before eating them. Oscar Wilde stated that Swinburne probably didn't indulge in the things he claimed to have indulged in, but his claim is enough to convince me that nothing can be gained by my reading anything Swinburne produced.

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