Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Ring and the Book : Dowry Wrangling

Based on a famous murder trial in the late 17th. century The Ring and the Book reminds me of similar dowry wrangling that is commonplace in India now.dowry deaths

Wikipedia’s article on the book
gets a major historical point wrong. Guido set it up to look as though Pompilia was conducting an epistolary affair with the young priest to disgrace her and get her out of his house into a closed penitentiary convent. He would still retain the dowry of course and her parents would be disgraced.

I met a literary person over the Xmas who claimed that they had never read Browning. This is just possible I suppose. They may have been mocking my enthusiasm which is entirely possible, likely even. This is a charitable view. Here then is an excerpt from the supposedly rational voice of Tertium Quid:

A pet lamb they have left in reach outside,
Whose first bleat, when he plucks the wool away,
Will strike the grinners grave: his wife remains
Who, four months earlier, some thirteen years old,
Never a mile away from mother’s house
And petted to the height of her desire,
Was told one morning that her fate was come,
She must be married — just as, a month before,
Her mother told her she must comb her hair
And twist her curls into one knot behind.
These fools forgot their pet lamb, fed with flowers,
Then ’ticed as usual by the bit of cake,
Out of the bower into the butchery.
Plague her, he plagues them threefold: but how plague?
The world may have its word to say to that:
You can’t do some things with impunity.
What remains . . . well, it is an ugly thought . . .
But that he drive herself to plague herself —
Herself disgrace herself and so disgrace
Who seek to disgrace Guido?

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