Robert Browning's Language.Robert Browning's Language. By Donald S Donald (Domnall, Domhnall, Dumhnuil, Dónall) is an anglicized version of a Scottish or Irish Gaelic personal name, containing the elements dumno "world" and val "rule", viz. "ruler of the world". Compare Dumnorix. . Hair. Toronto, Buffalo, NY, and London: University of Toronto Research at the University of Toronto has been responsible for the world's first electronic heart pacemaker, artificial larynx, single-lung transplant, nerve transplant, artificial pancreas, chemical laser, G-suit, the first practical electron microscope, the first cloning of T-cells, Press. 1999. ix + 326 pp. $55; 40 [pounds sterling].
The reaction against the abstract, and absolutely conceived, categories of theory that has set in over the last few years has had the beneficial effect of concentrating the minds of some critics with a peculiar ferocity on the specificities of literature. One form that this has taken has been a reinforcement and amplification of the historic sense, as in the New Historicism New Historicism is an approach to literary criticism and literary theory based on the premise that a literary work should be considered a product of the time, place, and circumstances of its composition rather than as an isolated creation. . A second has manifested itself in a fastening on the minutiae mi·nu·ti·a
n. pl. mi·nu·ti·ae
A small or trivial detail: "the minutiae of experimental and mathematical procedure" Frederick Turner. of language usage. Most encouraging of all have been those exercises in which these two emphases come together to forge an awareness of language as an aspect of history, or history as an aspect of language.
This accomplishment is best performed through studies of words within a given period, or by a given author viewed as reflective of his or her age. Recently we have had Frank Kermode's masterful Shakespeare's Language (London: Allen Lane, 2000). Now from the Canadian Victorianist Donald S. Hair we have Robert Browning's Language. The coincidence is interesting. Not only have Kermode and Hair been preoccupied with their respective authors for decades, only now getting down to the true nitty-gritty of linguistic analysis, but Shakespeare and Browning are complementary cases in more than one sense. Both were or had been playwrights, though Browning's plays failed on the stage, causing him to turn to published dramatic monologues dramatic monologue
A literary, usually verse composition in which a speaker reveals his or her character, often in relation to a critical situation or event, in a monologue addressed to the reader or to a presumed listener. . Both authors possessed fine ears for nuance; the collected works Collected Works is a Big Finish original anthology edited by Nick Wallace, featuring Bernice Summerfield, a character from the spin-off media based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. of each are prime examples of what Eric Griffiths once memorably called the `printed voice' of poetry. Both possessed distinctive religious backgrounds, though Shakespeare was a nominal Protestant with vivid memories of a recent Roman Catholic past, whilst Browning (like his contemporary Ruskin) grew up listening to great nonconformist Nonconformist
Any English Protestant who does not conform to the doctrines or practices of the established Church of England. The term was first used after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 to describe congregations that had separated from the national church. preachers in the pulpits of South London South London (known colloquially as South of the River) is the area of London south of the River Thames. Some neighbourhoods north of the Thames have South London postal codes (SW), but these neighbourhoods are classified as West or Central London. . In Browning's case, as Hair carefully notes, the ministers were Congregationalists. The resemblance does not end there. Both Shakespeare and Browning drew on continental (more specifically, Italian) sources, yet were English to the marrow. Imaginatively both were empiricists: that is, they preferred the actualities of the tactile tactile /tac·tile/ (tak´til) pertaining to touch.
1. Perceptible to the sense of touch; tangible.
2. Used for feeling.
3. world to the abstract concepts of the speculative mind. In every sense, both loved plots.
Hair, of course, has written on Browning before, but never I think to such good effect. In Browning's Experiments with Genre (Toronto: University of Toronto Press; Edinburgh: Olivers and Boyd, 1972) he concentrated on what might be called the genre-bending aspects of Browning's craft: the way that his poetry flows into drama, his drama into poetry, and poems of various types into one another. Here he trains his microscope on rhyme, on syntactical procedures, on biblical readings and various kinds of punning. He is especially illuminating on the music of `Abt Vogler' (pp. 153-56). More impressive than the sheer quantity of detail, however, is the total view of Browning as an author with a developmental, yet semantically precise, view of language stemming ultimately from John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). `Language', observes Hair in his overview and conclusion, is for Browning a given, and his `use of it is not a matter of invention but of discovery. The given was specifically Johnson's Dictionary, and in it Browning explored the nature of words and discovered the acts of mind behind every name and every proposition' (p. 299). Essentially, therefore, Browning is seen as possessing a highly moral view of language as a supreme form of intellectual responsibility. This attitude did not undermine the fun in his verse. It enhanced it.
Hair excavates this intelligent and historically cogent COGENT - COmpiler and GENeralized Translator view after sifting through texts as various as `Of Pacchiarotto', `A Toccata toccata (təkä`tə, tō–) [Ital.,=touched], type of musical composition. Early examples were written for various instruments, but the best-known form of toccata originated about the beginning of the 17th cent. of Galuppi's' and `Love among the Ruins'. If the inventory sometimes seems a little long, and the gaze occasionally too intense, the discovery is as of gold. Others in the field of nineteenth-century studies and beyond have much to learn from such attentiveness.
ROBERT FRASER OPEN UNIVERSITY