Robert Browning's "Sordello" was not received well

Please read Robert Browning's Sordello and let us know if you agree with the sentiments expressed below.

Screen Shot 2012 06 15 at 9 25 14 AMRobert Browning spent seven years composing Sordello, a 40,000-word narrative poem about strife between Guelphs and Ghibellines in 13th-century Italy. It was not received well.

Tennyson said, “There were only two lines in it that I understood, and they were both lies: ‘Who will may hear Sordello’s story told’ and ‘Who would has heard Sordello’s story told.’”

Thomas Carlyle wrote, “My wife has read through ‘Sordello’ without being able to make out whether ‘Sordello’ was a man, or a city, or a book.”

Douglas Jerrold opened the book while convalescing from an illness and began to fear that his mind had been destroyed. “O God, I AM an idiot!” he cried, sinking back onto the sofa. He pressed the book on his wife and sister; when Mrs. Jerrold said, “I don’t understand what this man means; it is gibberish,” her husband exclaimed, “Thank God, I am NOT an idiot!”


Futility Closet: A Glass Darkly

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