I like my writers influential
A strange little thing hidden on p 5 of today’s guardian’s review. The ‘Week in Books’ diary finishes with a discussion of Browning by John Dugdale.
Can’t find it online; begins by claiming Browning mostly remembered as butt of jokes. Quotes, obviously, Wilde’s “…and so is Browning” & Jane Carlyle on Sordello, and then just carries on listing jokes about Browning.
I think this claim is untrue. Get the impression this Dugdale may have read a book about B or Victorian literary reputations or something similar; perhaps he’s just unlucky and just knows too many of the particular sort of literary shit who lives off anecdotes and won’t do the reading. (John, my advice: just complete the anecdote ahead of them w/ featureless expression on face, quote a bit of the Toccata or Development, then ask them about their favourite Browning poems. Make them feel fucking ashamed for being the boring art parasites they are).
(And I mean if you are going to do the standard Browning comic anecdotes, then COME ON, NUNS FINGERING TWATS, IT’S THE BEST)
Anyhow, Dugdale seems to be on the side of the angels (the ambivalent angels of Browning) because there is a brief and vague defence that claims
the legacy of the dramatic monologue runs (via Eliot, Pound, Frost, Plath, Hughes and others) to Carol Ann Duffy in poetry, all the way to the use of personas by rappers such as Eminem and Nicki Minaj in music.
Oh god. I think he has form for this. Ok, first, I think there is a rule or something about never ever using rappers/pop music (especially Eminem) to arouse interest in classic poetry unless there is an actual rhyme-bite or like Drake has made an incontestable, precise allusion to William Drummond of Hawthornden. Everyone knows that try-hard teachers (usually lib dems iirc) will be first against the wall when the rev comes & it is all just awkward and embarrassing and really, if you want to try it, show me the genealogy, properly, because I feel like you haven’t grasped a) the history of poetry or b) the history of popular music when you’re just saying ‘singers have/use personae’.
If you want to see someone doing Browning/Rap properly, here, here it is. Neat, deceptive backhand while exiting; provocative, funny.
I’m not really convinced the Carol Ann Duffy thing is a sell either.
Anyway, it ends nicely, by saying Wilde liked him really and he’s a great creator of character, which is v true.
Strange piece though.
(And is that all we get?)