Browning’s Birthday – May 7th, PUT IT IN YOUR DIARIES.

April 25, 2012

Ok, I meant to say in that post on the first Sordello book that the reason, part of the reason, I’m reading it, is because it’s Browning’s 200th BIRTHDAY on May 7th.

There’s a great tumblr celebrating his birthday here:

http://browningversions.tumblr.com/

I’ve actually got a few questions for browning versions, but I’m not sure how tumblr/non-tumblr blogs do this.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: JAMES MASON READS BROWNING. OVER KRAUTROCK N STUFF.

I mean, the hell. (I’ve only listened to Andrea del Sarto so far – it’s great.)

Here dem questions anyway [EDIT then i go and think more about them in a comment, rather’n just lazily asking]:

1) The Ohio edition. Regularly see phrases like ‘disgraceful’ and ‘massive deficiencies’ bandied about regarding it. What happened? Why so bad? Poor textual readings? Insufficient editorial apparaturs? Guess I could google around a bit more, find out. I’ve got a few of these tho as they came up cheaply remaindered a couple of years ago. Just got ’em for the poems, just got ’em for the poems. But if these are BAD readings, I wanna know. [EDIT keep saying ‘readings, readings’ like it’s f’ing shakespeare. Just mean punctuation, choice of edition, sensible word choice where there is editorial confusion etc.]

2) A Death in the Desert – Renan/Strauss. Wot.

3) Ok, Dryden and Browning, holding on to the ledge, obscurity beneath etc. Agreed. Why tho? I mean, what are the drivers of popularity in non-contemporary poetry these days? Academia? Lit pages? In some ways he seems like an ideal internet poet, sorry sorry, but the sort you can make an encyclopedia for (there is one of course! I had it in my hand the other day). Surely ‘difficulty’ isn’t a bar these days? Why isn’t he cool? Not enough King of a Movement stuff? Too long?

4)  “tbh I getMen and Women and Dramatis Personae mixed up, have to look at the contents to remember what’s in what.” phew.

RIght, want to write on BOOK II of Sordello, but I gotta go get pizza. Browning woulda ate pizza for sure – plenty of good places just near his house:

Image

bastard wasnae home to twats wi book bags.

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Sordello – Book the First

April 22, 2012

Browning’s early long poem Sordello has got a bit of a reputation for being difficult. I started it yesterday and suspect that reputation must be built largely on its notorious reception – I won’t rehearse the usual anecdotes, but Opta stats show of an edition of 500 copies only 157 were sold, while 86 were given away to reviewers and friends since the publication of the poem. Poor Browning! We’re not talking ziggurats at the front of Tesco here. And he really thought he was writing something accessible:

in 1850 John Westland Martson told Rossetti [DG] that ‘Browning, before publishing Sordello, sent it him to read, saying that this time the public should not accuse him at any rate of being unintelligible (!!)’.

I started reading it yesterday and I’m not really sure it’s as unintelligible as all that, tho there are admittedly difficulties. Here are some appropriately disordered thoughts having read Book 1:

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