Why are there so many remakes, rehashes, reinterpretations, and remixes in the entertainment industry? Are the powers that be obsessed with a prefix or have they merely run out of ideas. I mean they brought Leno back for crying out loud! (See previous post-Ed.).
Well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand it anymore. Time for some new ideas, some ideation, if you like. I am constantly thinking of premises, pilots, and pitches. And, by golly, some of them just might be good.
Like this idea for a book or movie.
Edward Trelawny was a curious fellow. He is alternately described as a biographer, an adventurer, and sometimes a liar. He was born in either Cornwall or London, England in 1792 and had what he described as a “miserable childhood” there. But the real excitement starts in 1819. It was in this year, after a failed stint in the navy and a failed go at marriage, that Trelawny met Lord Byron and Percy Shelley.
Now if you don’t know who those last fellows are, I suppose you might not be interested in this pitch, but it is more than likely that you do. Regardless, here’s a refresher: Byron and Shelley are members of the Big Six romantic poets (the other four are Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats). Their poetry is stunning and studied in every respectable academic institution. However, they are just as famous for their lives as they are for their lyrics. If there were paparazzo in the 18th century they were following Byron and Shelley. Both men were accused of licentiousness and deemed reprobate; scandal followed them like a lost dog. They were under the watch of the English government for a variety of reasons, most involved being in the wrong bed, but many were because of their radical religious and political views. Did I mention their stay at the Villa Diodati (the one time residence of another poetic giant: Milton) and the ghost story competition that spawned Frankenstein and Vampyre?
Needless to say, Byron and Shelley are giants of English Literature, and they are giant characters. They have stories worthy of several films and books (like the Julian Sands film Gothic, and Roger Corman’s super weird Frankenstein Unbound, and a myriad of books). However, Edward Trelawny is left out of these accounts, but his story is just as interesting.
Trelawny was known to be an outlandish, and dedicated member of Byron and Shelley’s Pisan Circle of friends, and he eventually became a noted biographer of this circle. However, nothing could have prepared them for his actions at Shelley’s funeral. Shelley drowned in 1822 at the age of 29 after an ill-fated sailing trip. There is, and was, a large amount of speculation and hearsay regarding this event. One story states that Shelley was “rubbed out” by English government operatives, others claim that Shelley and his friends swear they saw his doppelganger, an omen of death, days before he died. Regardless of the cause, Shelley’s death was truly romantic in fashion: he died battling the sea with a copy of Keats’ poems in his jacket.
His funeral was an equally romantic affair. His body had been discovered some days after the accident and was unsuitable for burial, so Shelley was burned on a funeral pyre on a beach. Byron was so moved by the scene that he had to retire to his coach; Trelawny had a different reaction: he ripped Shelley’s heart out of the fire. Yes, that’s right, he ripped out his heart. That is dedication to a literary legacy.
Blaze of Glory : The Funeral of Shelley, Louis Edouard Fournier
Life is better with a moustache
But what happened to that heart? Did Trelawny keep it and preserver it? And it gets weirder. A short time after Shelley’s death, Trelawny went on to fight along side Byron and the Greeks in Turkey, and when Trelawny heard of Byron’s death in 1824, he was the first to attend to his remains. So, Trelawny is now two-for-two in terms of poets’ corpses. Moreover, Shelley was 29 and Byron was 36 when they died, Trelawny lived to 88! The average life expectancy was 50! To add to the moribund fascination surrounding these pillars of poetry, Trelawny’s ashes were buried next to Shelley’s plot, a plot that he had purchased for him. Can one stalk another person in the afterlife? My answer is perhaps.
A movie could tell this odd tale verbatim, however, it could also speculate just what Trelawny’s motives were in collecting his friends remains. Did he do it out of a sense of worship or duty, like a medieval reliquary, or was it for something more sinister. The movie could be ambivalent about this, or more biased. It could delve into the supernatural or even fantastical b-movie and horror movie territories (maybe the key to Trelawny’s lifespan was his taste for his friends’ flesh. Cue spooky music and wild cackle). Either way Trelawny’s tale should be told. And entertainment, like the heart of a poet, should not be reheated.
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