HAPPY 200th BIRTHDAY ROBERT!

May 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Robert. Even the memorials are fading. It’s almost invisibly located next to a fried chicken shop, under a junction box.

And NOTHING in the papers, apart from an okay-ish I guess bit in The Scotsman, [EDIT: to be fair, that Scotsman piece is considerably better than ‘okay-ish I guess’, esp considering the lack of anything else] and some weird aside in The Guardian that the browning variations nails here. And another bit in the Guardian, which seems on the face of it a little more sensible, but in fact barely manages to say a single thing that’s true or pertinent to Browning.

“Browning is not flashy and highly coloured, like Dickens .. But he was a great poet, and his ordinary bravery makes him a hero for all time.”

I mean seriously, what the fuck is that? No, he is, he is both of those things.┬áHe is fireworks! What the hell’s that last bit? What the fuck does it mean?

I’m glad that you like him and everything, Margaret, I really am – cos no one else is writing about Browning – but what exactly do you like him for? DON’T say his ‘ordinary bravery’ or i will vomit ALL OVER YOU.

And to echo TBV – Is that all we get?


How Do I Shot Sordello? Book II

May 7, 2012

I read Book II last week, but didn’t have time to write anything. It was one of those weeks where sportive gods shy what shit they can your way. I’m going to have to refer to my more or less haphazard notes and riff on them as I see fit.

WARNING THIS ENDS UP V LONG-WINDED, TALKING ABOUT SORDELLO’S POETIC PSYCHE. IT’S BROWNING’S FAULT.

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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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