Annika Merk

The Contemporary Dramatic Monologue in Britain and Ireland

Almost two hundred years after Robert Browning composed his world-renowned poem “My Last Duchess” (1842), the dramatic monologue continues to fascinate readers and scholars alike. Its fictionalized speakers, whom the reader encounters in a dramatic situation and witnesses in their – usually futile – attempt to present their audience with a favourable image of themselves, have not lost their appeal since the genre’s heyday in the Victorian age.

Focussing on poets from Britain and Ireland, this study offers a structured overview about the transformations the dramatic monologue has undergone since the 1960s. After establishing a working definition of the genre, which is characterized by hybridity and a general indeterminacy of its characteristics and boundaries, four different categories of contemporary dramatic monologues are discussed in detail. The analysed poems include neo-Victorian examples by Anthony Thwaite and A.S. Byatt, dramatic monologues employing the strategy of feminist revisionist mythmaking, and specimens which negotiate post-imperial British identities. In the fourth category, the study examines Mohsin Hamid’s novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) in terms of the dramatic monologue’s possible development from genre to mode.

ISBN 978-3-86821-770-4, kt., 206 S., € 25,00 (2018)

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