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Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

Writing in the 1930s, Bertrand Russell attributes the birth of the Romantic Movement to Lord Byron and Rousseau. Russell then goes on to claim that the current age of totalitarian dictatorships -- Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin -- are direct philosophical and cultural consequences of the movement founded by Rousseau and Byron, that without Byron and Rousseau, there could not 150 years later have been a Hitler or a Stalin in Europe.
Perhaps as an American I'm not nearly as intimate with Rousseau and Byron as Europeans are. I can't imagine the kind of impact and influence that Russell claims a rock-star poet and an aggressively perverse philosopher had on Europe.
When the Bronte Sisters were little girls growing up in the north of England, they got to read the London scandal and gossip sheets, which were filled with the shocking, lurid exploits of Lord Byron -- "Mad, bad, and dangerous to know." In the Bronte novels, the dark, brooding, angry heroes are all modelled on their childhood gossip-sheet impressions of Mr George Gordon.