The Golden Gate

Vikram Seth

What happened to narrative verse? An art form which has been one of the most important, and privileged, for most of human history takes a sudden nosedive in the rankings around about the start of the 20th century. I suspect it’s got something to do with masculinity and defensiveness – the most popular form of narrative poetry is now hip-hop; it can’t be a coincidence that the surviving example is so hysterically butch.

I couldn’t have imagined reading a novel-length poetic narrative when I was a teenager, which is a shame; if I’d discovered The Golden Gate back then I could have skipped a couple of decades. It’s brilliant, funny and moving: the last canto is wonderful.

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2 responses to “The Golden Gate

  1. Oh how I love that book. I think it’s the best novel written about San Francisco and force it into the reluctant hands of skeptical houseguests…

  2. Interesting point about narrative verse taking a nose-dive a hundred years ago. I agree. The question I have is simple: is it possible to undo the damage? Can we once again have epic poetry and the like?

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