Danny Karlin

Danny Karlin, an emeritus professor of English at the University of Bristol, is the author of Browning’s Hatreds and the editor of The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse.

When the narrator of A la recherche du temps perdu at last meets his idol, the great writer Bergotte, he gets a terrible shock: instead of the ‘white-haired, sweet Singer’ of his imagination, he sees ‘a young man, uncouth, short, thickset and myopic, with a red nose shaped like a snail-shell and a black goatee’. The fantasy Bergotte vanishes, but the caricature that...

Julie Otsuka’s novella When the Emperor Was Divine tells, in discontinuous sections and different narrative modes, the story of a Japanese-American family split up in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor – the father detained in military camps, the mother and two children interned in the Utah desert. The first part of the story – from Roosevelt’s issuing of...

At the very end of The Ring and the Book Browning delivers one of the most staggering mule-kicks ever meted out by an author to his readers. Bear in mind that the poem is more than 21,000 lines of blank verse – about twice the length of Paradise Lost. It was published in four monthly instalments, each containing three books of the poem, which appeared from November 1868 to February...

Recurring Women: Emily Dickinson

Danny Karlin, 24 August 2000

Publication – is the Auction Of the Mind of Man –


Editing Emily Dickinson’s poetry is a problem which continues to vex literary scholars and textual critics; meanwhile the publication, or dissemination, of Dickinson goes on apace. A trivial instance: the giant puppet of the ‘Belle of Amherst’, dressed in that distinctive ghost-white dress, which...


Danny Karlin, 7 January 1993

The history of punctuation is bound up with the most important shift in the theory of writing to have taken place in our culture. The written word began as a record of speech, a priority of voice over text which held sway in the ancient world and was literally (i.e. graphically) enforced. Reading meant reading aloud; texts were the libretti of performances so there was no need for elaborate pointing. Indeed there is no need even for the most minimal punctuation of all, word division. Classical texts were copied in scriptio continua (joined-up writing with a vengeance) so that the opening of, say, ‘Resolution and Independence’ would have looked like this (only more so, because there would have been quirks of orthography, such as contractions and elisions, to contend with as well):

Ventriloquism: Dear Old Khayyám

Marina Warner, 9 April 2009

Edward FitzGerald transfused his own life, even as he deemed it a paltry thing, into the persona of Omar Khayyám, who would lift it from that paltriness and transfigure him. He was able to formulate through...

Read More

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...

Read More

When in Rom

John Sutherland, 9 June 1994

Ask what has been the single greatest influence on literary research since the Sixties and the answer might be the Xerox machine, the jumbo jet or Jacques Derrida. Ask what will transform...

Read More

Browning and Modernism

Donald Davie, 10 October 1991

Browning is in high favour once again, or promises to be. Has not A.S. Byatt, CBE, declared him ‘one of the very greatest English poets’? In a switch to fighting talk, she adds that...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences