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An introduction to the study of Robert Browning's poetry

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Complete Plays of Robert Browning. My Last Duchess and Other Poems. He took such cognizance of men and things, If any beat a horse, you felt he saw; If any cursed a woman, he took note; Yet stared at nobody—you stared at him, And found, less to your pleasure than surprise, He seemed to know you and expect as much. In Florence, probably from early in , Browning worked on the poems that eventually comprised his two-volume Men and Women , for which he is now well known, [15] although in , when they were published, they made relatively little impact.

In , Elizabeth died in Florence. Among those whom he found consoling in that period was the novelist and poet Isa Blagden , with whom he and his wife had a voluminous correspondence.

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They made their home in 17 Warwick Crescent, Maida Vale. It was only when he became part of the London literary scene—albeit while paying frequent visits to Italy though never again to Florence —that his reputation started to take off. In , after five years work he completed and published the long blank-verse poem The Ring and the Book. Based on a convoluted murder-case from s Rome, the poem is composed of 12 books: Long even by Browning's standards over twenty-thousand lines , The Ring and the Book was his most ambitious project and is arguably his greatest work; it has been called a tour de force of dramatic poetry.

In the remaining years of his life Browning travelled extensively. After a series of long poems published in the early s, of which Balaustion's Adventure and Red Cotton Night-Cap Country were the best-received, [31] the volume Pacchiarotto, and How He Worked in Distemper included an attack against Browning's critics, especially Alfred Austin , who was later to become Poet Laureate.

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According to some reports Browning became romantically involved with Louisa Caroline Stewart-Mackenzie , Lady Ashburton, but he refused her proposal of marriage, and did not remarry. In , he revisited Italy for the first time in the seventeen years since Elizabeth's death, and returned there on several further occasions. It finally presented the poet speaking in his own voice, engaging in a series of dialogues with long-forgotten figures of literary, artistic, and philosophic history.

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The Victorian public was baffled by this, and Browning returned to the brief, concise lyric for his last volume, Asolando , published on the day of his death. Browning died at his son's home Ca' Rezzonico in Venice on 12 December During his life Browning was awarded many distinctions.

An Introduction to the Study of Robert Browning's Poetry by Browning and Corson

He was made LL. But he turned down anything that involved public speaking. At a dinner party on 7 April , at the home of Browning's friend the artist Rudolf Lehmann , an Edison cylinder phonograph recording was made on a white wax cylinder by Edison 's British representative, George Gouraud. In the recording, which still exists, Browning recites part of How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix and can be heard apologising when he forgets the words.

Browning's admirers have tended to temper their praise with reservations about the length and difficulty of his most ambitious poems, particularly Sordello and, to a lesser extent, The Ring and the Book. Byatt 's Possession refer directly to Browning's work. His abortive dinner-party recital of How They Brought The Good News was recorded on an Edison wax cylinder , and is believed to be the oldest surviving recording made in the United Kingdom of a notable person.

His critical reputation rests mainly on his dramatic monologues , in which the words not only convey setting and action but reveal the speaker's character. In a Browning monologue, unlike a soliloquy , the meaning is not what the speaker voluntarily reveals but what he inadvertently gives away, usually while rationalising past actions or special pleading his case to a silent auditor.

These monologues have been influential, and today the best of them are often treated by teachers and lecturers as paradigm cases of the monologue form. Eliot "all learned from Browning's exploration of the possibilities of dramatic poetry and of colloquial idiom".


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If Shakespeare could sing with myriad lips, Browning could stammer through a thousand mouths. And as what will he be remembered? Ah, not as a poet! He will be remembered as a writer of fiction, as the most supreme writer of fiction, it may be, that we have ever had. His sense of dramatic situation was unrivalled, and, if he could not answer his own problems, he could at least put problems forth, and what more should an artist do? Considered from the point of view of a creator of character he ranks next to him who made Hamlet. Had he been articulate, he might have sat beside him.

The only man who can touch the hem of his garment is George Meredith. Meredith is a prose Browning, and so is Browning. He used poetry as a medium for writing in prose. Probably the most adulatory judgment of Browning by a modern critic comes from Harold Bloom: But Browning is a very difficult poet, notoriously badly served by criticism , and ill-served also by his own accounts of what he was doing as a poet. His work has nevertheless had many detractors, and most of his voluminous output is not widely read. In a largely hostile essay Anthony Burgess wrote: The latter expressed his views in the essay "The Poetry of Barbarism," which attacks Browning and Walt Whitman for what he regarded as their embrace of irrationality.

In American modernist composer Charles Ives created the Robert Browning Overture, a dense and darkly dramatic piece with gloomy overtones reminiscent of the Second Viennese School.

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It was a success and brought popular fame to the couple in the United States. The role of Elizabeth became a signature role for the actress Katharine Cornell. It was twice adapted into film.


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  • It was also the basis of the stage musical Robert and Elizabeth , with music by Ron Grainer and book and lyrics by Ronald Millar. In The Browning Version Terence Rattigan 's play or one of several film adaptations , a pupil makes a parting present to his teacher of an inscribed copy of Browning's translation of the Agamemnon. Browning Street in Berkeley, California , is located in an area known as Poets' Corner and is also named after him. Two of a group of three culs-de-sac in Little Venice , London, are named Browning Close and Robert Close after him; the third, Elizabeth Close, is named after his wife.

    This section lists the plays and volumes of poetry Browning published in his lifetime. Some individually notable poems are also listed, under the volumes in which they were published. His only notable prose work, with the exception of his letters, is his Essay on Shelley. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Sara marked it as to-read Jan 16, Rachel added it Mar 31, Rupkatha marked it as to-read Apr 11, Robert Druce marked it as to-read Oct 22, Ann Tesar marked it as to-read Dec 27, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

    Robert Browning was a British poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets. Browning began writing poetry at age These poems were eventually collected, but were later destroyed by Browning himself. In , Browning's "Pauline" was published and received a cool reception. Harold Bloom believes that John Stuart Robert Browning was a British poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets. Harold Bloom believes that John Stuart Mill's review of the poem pointed Browning in the direction of the dramatic monologue.

    In , Browning wrote a letter to the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning , professing that he loved her poetry and her. In , the couple eloped to Europe, eventually settling in Florence in They had a son Pen. While in London, he published Dramatis Personae and The Ring and the Book , both of which gained him critical priase and respect.