Thursday, 27 February 2014

Being a Prose Philistine.

I’ve found yet another personal deficiency to proclaim to my friend, the blog. Here goes:

I’m very fond of elegant English. It’s why I like Charlotte Bronte’s writing so much. And because I’m so interested in language, I decided I should read Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Tennyson is, after all, one of the great narrative poets of the Romantic period, so I had to be bowled over, didn’t I? Well, I’m not.

I’m finding it irritating, ugly even. To me it feels dense and muddy, clogged by an unnecessarily over-complicated structure that staggers and stutters, rather than flowing smoothly. I want to go back in time and ask him: ‘If you want to tell a story, why not do so simply? Why have all these clauses tripping over each other through being forced to march in unnatural order?’ And maybe he would answer: ‘Because I’m a poet, and this is written in the tradition of epic poetry.’

And I suppose he’d be right, and I’d be wrong. I’m certainly in the minority, which I suppose proves the case against me.

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