Provincialism

Denis Donoghue

  • The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse edited by Daniel Karlin
    Allen Lane, 851 pp, £25.00, October 1997, ISBN 0 7139 9049 X

I’ve been comparing Daniel Karlin’s anthology here and there with other anthologies of English verse of the same period (Victoria’s reign 1837-1901) and of the 19th century as a whole. His major precursors are Quiller-Couch, Yeats, Auden, George MacBeth, Christopher Ricks and Ian Fletcher. I don’t intend a Shopper’s Guide, but I’ll start with two small complaints. Unlike Fletcher, Karlin doesn’t give explanatory notes, except for a few dialect words and phrases in foreign languages. Reading Davidson’s ‘Thirty Bob a Week,’ you have to know or guess what a hunks is. Fletcher tells you it’s a ‘miser’:

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