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CONTENTS OF VOLUME XX, 1923
Alan D. McKillop. The Romanticism of William Collins.
Hyder E. Rollins. The Commonwealth Drama: Miscellaneous
Willard Farnham. The Dayes of the Mone...
James W. Thompson. The Origin of the Word "Goliardi ".
William Dinsmore Briggs. On a Document Concerning Christopher Marlowe....
Robert Grant Martin. A Critical Study of Thomas Heywood's "Gunaikeion "
Merritt Y. Hughes. Spenser and the Greek Pastoral Triad.... 184
Killis Campbell. The Relation of Poe to His Times.
Norman Foerster. Quantity and Quality in Poe's Aesthetic.
Emory Holloway. Whitman as a Critic of America..
Morris W. Croll. Music and Metrics: A Reconsideration...
J. Leslie Hotson. George Jolly, Actor-Manager: New Light on
Allan H. Gilbert. The Outside Shell of Milton's World..
479 Edwin Greenlaw. Recent Studies in the History of Thought.. 496 REVIEWS:
Thomas Ollive Mabbott-Edgar A. Poe, A Psychopathic Study, by John W. Robertson.
Emory Holloway-A Concise Bibliography of Walt Whitman,
William Allan Neilson-Nature in American Literature, by
C. A. Hibbard-Some Personal Letters of Herman Melville and
Where in the history of literature is to be found a more sweeping and striking display of irony than in the juxtaposition of The Old Yellow Book, The Ring and the Book, and the long ripple of interpretation following in their wake? The ironic contrast is at least four-fold.
First, a poet so incorrigibly dramatic and objective that to speak in his own person is a confessed wrench to his own nature goes cut of his way on one occasion to unlock his heart to the public gaze, explaining in rather garrulous detail and with pounding emphasis the circumstances, motives, aim and achievement, involved in the poem avowed as his masterpiece. Second, in this gratuitous performance he so thoroughly misinterprets himself and misleads his readers that practically the reverse of his assertions constitutes the actual case. Third, when after a lapse of nearly forty years the hitherto inaccessible data are placed at the world's disposal through the enterprise of a scholarly critic, this editor himself, after the intensive study necessary for translation, fails to perceive the glaring discrepancy and merely echoes the author's contention, affirming it to have been gloriously fulfilled. Fourth, those commentators who have done exegesis duty on this theme subsequent to the revelation have been content to refill the conventional formula and reëcho the initial false note, permitted so to do for fifteen years to date without let, hindrance, or challenge, in an age ostensibly as devoted to the truth as Browning himself, the prince of truth-discoverers and truth-promulgators and truthpreservers.
The thing that clamors for rectification, belated though it be, is not that the poet protested too much when he needed not to pro
test at all, but that he protested wrong and that his protest has been hitherto fully accredited. If Browning had claimed for his transmutations of Book into Ring the virtues of beauty, grace, humor, vividness, knowledge wide, eloquence high, wisdom deep, there would be none to say him nay and none so poor to refuse him reverence. But in his deliberate choice to waive these many assets he did possess and with a somewhat truculent vehemence assume the one virtue least in evidence, he exhibited not only the naïveté of self-consciousness but the vice of that very dishonesty he most pugnaciously repudiates, elsewhere as here. No one questions in the least the poet's right to add, subtract, divide and multiply to suit his esthetic purposes, to deck his sordid facts in iridescent fancies, to draw copiously upon his imagination to interpret their significance, provided that he assumes his privilege of garnishing and sublimating actuality with the same unconcern with which it is granted, and refrains from avowing in the very act that he is doing none of these things but quite the opposite. In the first place, Browning muddles his own metaphor until it becomes a treacherous quagmire. Granting that his alloy is fancy, he maintains that "fancy with fact is just one fact the more," a confusion of subjective with objective fact, whereas distinction between them is highly important. And when he inquires if the fiction which makes fact alive be not fact too, he again betrays his indifference to a line that must be drawn by any apostle of truth. Anon he apologises for his dilution as being necessary to provide
No dose of purer truth than man digests,
But truth with falsehood, milk that feeds him now,
Not strong meat he may get to bear some day.
Whether or not the Victorian British Public that liked him not would have respected him more had he talked to it as man to man rather than as cryptic oracle to milk-fed babe, certainly the twentieth century should be grown up enough to endure this darklyhinted strong meat which no longer need be reserved for future use.
It was toward the end of this century's first decade that the crude and indigestible matter discovered by Browning nearly half a century before was made generally available by Professor Hodell's translation of The Old Yellow Book, followed by its publication in the Everyman Edition. Since then, who will, may hear Fran