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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Florrie Forde/Lana Turner Deathmatch

Two opening lines, the first by O’Hara, the second by MacNeice:

‘Lana Turner has collapsed!’

‘I see from the paper that Florrie Forde is dead – ’

‘In MacNeice’s opening line’, John Wilkinson writes, ‘is heard the unmistakeable tone of the old bore at breakfast dismissively shaking The Times; there follows a patronising portrait of a popular singer and her audience “from slum and suburb”, progressively sentimentalized as wartime is invoked, before crashing gears into full-blown nostalgia with the final stanza celebrating an innocent “older England”. True Florrie Forde was no Billie Holiday, but O’Hara’s genuinely democratic spirit, embracing the humblest of bit-part B-movie players, could never have entertained this tone of patrician dismissive appreciation of artiste and audience.’

True, false?

I remember a thread on the poem’s discussion board about how very different that democratic openness Wilkinson praises in O’Hara would have looked coming from a Brideshead generation old Etonian (no slum child our Frank), whatever the hell he was having for lunch or however many Ghanaian poets he’d read that day.

True, false?

America fresh, England tired and jaded?


Ms Baroque said...

Oh, I don't think so! Are you asking for an essay??

I think what is heard is the unmistakeable tone of the poem to follow, which is a very different poem from Lana Turner Has Collapsed! MacNeice's poem is, essentially, about loss of innocence through war; O'Hara's (which I also love, don't get me wrong) is a lovely sweet gush.

So I don't buy the theory, but am alas too tied right now to write the essay.

I'll just say that the kind of brittle brightness America IS good at is just as much a straitjackt as the weariness England is accused of.

Funny old counterpoint, eh!

puthwuth said...

Double-spaced essay, full bibliography & cover sheet. Thanks for posting.

Ms Baroque said...

HEY, wait. Thanks for this - I'm going to the launch of John Wilkinson's book tonight & I didn't even know! It does look very interesting. Dear me. Well, I'll know more after.

And by the way I meant "tired," not "tied."