On this episode of The Custom House we examine the many moods and personae of poet Robert Browning, the Victorian master of “selves,” whose work not only inspired Modernist poets like T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound but also gave us Stephen King’s Gunslinger, Eminem’s “Stan” and the psycho-epicure Hannibal Lecter.
In this episode of The Custom House we speak with Ivan Kreilkamp, associate professor of English at Indiana University, about the poetry of Robert Browning. Browning’s Duke, in what is probably his most famous poem “My Last Duchess,” reaches into our own moment to find analogues in Hannibal Lecter and Eminem’s “Stan.” We’ll explore many of his other poetic personae as well as explore the nightmare quest landscape traveled by his “Childre Roland” in search of the Dark Tower–that defining poetic triumph. This extended cut includes discussions and readings of several more poems all from Browning’s most acclaimed single volume Men and Women published the same year as Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, 1855. These include “Andreal del Sarto,” “Fra Lippo Lippi,” “Karshish,” and “Cleon.”