[Lord Lytton] Edward G. Bulwer Lytton

Commentary

Life
1803-1873; Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron of Lytton [of Knebworth, created 1866]; author of historical novels, but also works tales of terror, the supernatural, crime and social injustice; m. Rosina Doyle Wheeler [infra]; author of Eugene Aram, &c.; wrote The Lady of Lyons (1838) in a fortnight, on a hint from Macready; he is references in Joyce's story “An Encounter” where the pervert speaks of ‘some of Lord Lytton’s works which boys couldn’t read’; Eugene Aram is referenced in Finnegans Wake. ODNB

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Criticism
Allan Conrad Christensen, ed., The Subverting Vision of Bulwer Lytton: Bicentenary Reflections (Delaware UP [2004]), 258pp. [Contribs. Incl. Andrew Brown, Richard Cronin, Jonathan Grossman, Esther Schor, Catherine Phillips, et al.]

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Commentary
Anthea Trodd, reviewing Christensen, ed., The Subverting Vision of Bulwer Lytton [as supra], in Times Literary Supplement (25 Feb. 2005), p.28. notes that Lytton was admired by Dickens but reviled by Thackeray. Lytton is author of the epigram ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, in the play Richelieu. Richard Cronin holds that in cross-fertilising the fashionable and the Newgate novels, Lytton provided the Victorian social novel with the structural device of juxtaposing mutually reflective upper and lower social worlds. Jonathan Grossman offers a close study of the trial scenes in Paul Clifford and Eugene Aram and argues that they effected a ‘paradigmatic shift’ in narrative representation of criminals, moving to a double, non-judgemental perspective which allowed inwardnes with the dock. Discusses Athens: Its Rise and Fall, a 2-vol. history, which incls. 63pp of extracts from unpublished third vol. Lytton anticipated Grote’s claim for the significance of Athens as a democratic model; work abandoned when he reached the ‘fall’. Extracts promise such topics as ‘struggle between property and numbers’ and ‘forced and exotic’ democracies of Greek colonies – all of which possibly represented intractable problems to this radical politician, landowner, and future Secretary for the Colonies in whom the interests of property predominated after the 1830. Trodd refers to Lytton’s ‘compulsive search for new genres’ and cites his work in fiction, drama, poetry, essays and history. Other works cited incl. Oswyn Murray, The Lady of Lyons, Richelieu (both plays), Rienzi, ‘the liveliest of his historical novels’, The Caxtons trilogy (1850s), Pelham, Eugene Aram, and The Parisians. Concludes: ‘The formidable range suggest by these two volumes should attract new attention from […] readers, who might otherwise feel that Thackeray, in his relentless pursuit of “Bulwig”, had got it about right. Ill., cartoon of Bulwer Lytton by Daniel Maclise.

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Don Gifford, Joyce Annotated: Notes for Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist [rev. edn.] (California UP 1982), notes that public suspicion about the morality of some of his novels was re-enforced by rumours of scandal in his private life. (p.40; notes on “An Encounter”.)

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References
Dictionary of National Biography also cites a son, Edward Robert Bulwer (1831-1891; 1st Earl of Lytton), statesman and poet, who wrote Orval, or The Fool Of Time (1869), and ‘King Poppy’; held numerous ambassadorial posts; did relief work in Indian famine of 1877, in which year he proclaimed Victoria Empress of India. ODNB cites Bulwer Lytton's works in full but makes not reference to O’Neill.

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), O’Neill, or The Rebel (Lon. 1827). The O’Neill of the novel is Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Published anonymously.

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