This weekend was the birth anniversary for Thomas Hardy (June 2, 1840) and Allen Ginsberg (June 3, 1926). My first thought was, these guys have nothing to say to each other, which is really to say that what I admire in one I don’t see in the other. Upon reflection, however, there are some similarities despite the surface differences. Chiefly, each was instrumental in overthrowing the established order. Hardy’s special brand of gloom pretty much killed the Victorian novel (as well as his interest in writing novels after Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure), but his real achievement may be in changing the course of British poetry. Hardy’s verse shares little with the more ornamented poetry of Tennyson or Browning, or even with his closer, pre-Raphaelite forerunners. His terse, ironic, understated, became the standard for much of twentieth-century English verse from the Georgian poets to the post-WWII crowd (think, Larkin). As for Ginsberg, Howl put Eliot & Co. in the rearview mirror.
Plus, they seem to have shared the same hair stylist.