Skip Nav

Robert Browning Browning, Robert - Essay

Navigate Guide

❶It gained him access to the London literary world. Roberts, Adam; Karlin, Daniel, eds.


Robert Browning — Genre, Mode, and Style
Robert Browning’s Life
Robert Browning’s Works

From the time of their marriage and until Elizabeth's death, the Brownings lived in Italy, residing first in Pisa , and then, within a year, finding an apartment in Florence at Casa Guidi now a museum to their memory.

He would, in later life, describe Italy as his university. As Elizabeth had inherited money of her own, the couple were reasonably comfortable in Italy, and their relationship together was happy. However, the literary assault on Browning's work did not let up and he was critically dismissed further, by patrician writers such as Charles Kingsley , for the desertion of England for foreign lands.

Browning identified as a Liberal , supported the emancipation of women, and opposed slavery, expressing sympathy for the North in the American Civil War. He was also a stalwart opponent of anti-Semitism, leading to speculation that Browning himself was Jewish. Browning was raised in an evangelical nonconformist household. However, after his reading of Shelley he is said to have briefly become an atheist.

However, many have dismissed the usefulness of these works at discovering Browning's own religious views due to the consistent use of dramatic monologue which regularly expresses hypothetical views which cannot be ascribed to the author himself. All, except this last accident, was truth— This little kind of slip! Browning believed spiritualism to be fraud, and proved one of Daniel Dunglas Home 's most adamant critics.

Browning seized the "materialization" and discovered it to be Home's bare foot. To make the deception worse, Browning had never lost a son in infancy. He stood and watched the cobbler at his trade, The man who slices lemons into drink, The coffee-roaster's brazier , and the boys That volunteer to help him turn its winch.

He glanced o'er books on stalls with half an eye, And fly-leaf ballads on the vendor's string, And broad-edge bold-print posters by the wall. 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. 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 twelve 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.

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.

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.

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". 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. 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. 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. This article is about the English poet and playwright.

For other people, see Robert Browning disambiguation. Elizabeth Barrett Browning m. Sludge, "The Medium" opening lines. How It Strikes a Contemporary ll. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. May Learn how and when to remove this template message. Retrieved 29 May Karlin, Daniel Selected Poems Penguin, p. Hair, University of Missouri Press, p.

It was not until the s, and in particular the publication of Dramatis Personae in , that Browning achieved major critical and popular success.

The volume was followed shortly thereafter by his masterpiece, The Ring and the Book A series of dramatic monologues spoken by different characters, the work was based on an Italian murder case. The Ring and the Book cemented Browning's reputation as one of the foremost poets of Victorian England. Contemporary critical acclaim evaded Browning for many years. Gertrude Reese Hudson observes that the poet's critics required regular and frequent exposure to his unique dramatic method in order to recognize the excellence of Browning's art.

Hudson also notes that other factors contributed to Browning's winning over of his critics, including their changing opinion regarding the nature of poetry, as well as a growing appreciation for both the timeliness of Browning's writing, his intellect and originality, and the "totality of his achievement. Browning's highly individualized style and his usage of dramatic monologue fascinate modern scholars as much as these elements troubled his early critics. John Woolford and Daniel Karlin demonstrate that in using the dramatic monologue format, Browning was primarily interested in the creation and development of dramatic speakers and dramatic situations.

The two critics also analyze Browning's style, finding that his poetry, in its focus on the speaker, insists on being read aloud. Woolford and Karlin further argue that Browning develops two distinct voices in his poetry, voices Browning himself described as "saying" and "singing" voices and which the critics contend result from the influence of the Romantics on Browning's work.

In a separate essay, Daniel Karlin examines Browning's use of binary oppositions, finding that "every Browning poem is oppositional in nature. Other critics review certain volumes of Browning's poetry as a whole, arguing that the individual poems support a larger theme or purpose. Ryals studies Browning's Dramatic Romances and Lyrics with this in mind.

Ryals stresses that the theme of loyalty unites the poems in this volume, and that this theme is often expressed in an ironic manner. Furthermore, Ryals argues that while the majority of the poems may concern national loyalties, the poems also explore other kinds of loyalties, including loyalty to one's self, to one's religion, and to one's beloved.

Similarly, Adam Roberts argues for the unity of the poems in Browning's Men and Women , asserting that the volume demonstrates Browning's first successful attempt at balancing the subjective and objective impulses in his poetry. This synthesis is achieved, Roberts argues, through Browning's characterization.

Roberts explains that compared to the idiosyncratic, often insane characters in the earlier Dramatic Romances and Lyrics , the personalities in Men and Women , though complex, "communicate on something approaching our own level," and thus engender empathy and understanding among readers. Roberts goes on to discuss how Browning's continued usage of "grotesque" style and imagery including colloquial language, rough syntax, and precise but blunt forms of expression helps to link the form of these poems to their content.

Considerable critical discussion of Browning's work pertains to his murder mystery, The Ring and the Book. The twelve dramatic monologues, delivered by different characters, have led critics to question which, if any, of these characters serves as the moral authority, or center, of the poem. Adam Potkay argues against assigning this position of moral authority to any one of the characters and instead considers the poem as a "decentered struggle of interpretations" in which the character of Guido leads the way in "decentering" the poem by questioning the very conception of identity.

David Shaw likewise contends that there is no central viewpoint in The Ring and the Book and maintains that while Browning ranks the authority of the characters in the poem, the poet creates no central authority figure. Additionally, Shaw explores the way in which deconstructionism and hermeneutics pervade Browning's masterwork, finding the Pope aligned with hermeneutical criticism and Guido and Tertium Quid aligned with the deconstructionists.

The Complete Works of Robert Browning. Dramatic works in this series are chronologized by date of publication rather than first performance. Several months after the publication of Colombe's Birthday , Browning wrote to his friend Domett enclosing a copy of his play: Introduction to Modern Critical Views: One of the principles of interpretation that will arise out of the future study of the intricacies of poetic revisionism, and of the kinds of misreading that canon-formation engenders, is the realization that later poets and their critical Rather, the poem offers a "decentered struggle of interpretations, " with the character of Guido taking on a decentering role which questions the very notion of identity.

Criticism of The Ring and The Book , with few exceptions, unites in assigning an infallible center of authority to the poem. Shaw considers the main characters to be caricatures of various critical viewpoints and focuses on Tertium Quid and Guido specifically as the primary deconstructionists, and on the Pope as a representative of hermeneutical criticism.

Tucker contends that Browning explores the use of "epiphanic faith" as a measure of character. James Joyce minted a two-faced counter when he coined the term epiphany for literary use. The basic elements that determined Browning's reputation from to were of course his professional activities and the opinions of critics and others. To these should be added certain significant movements in the intellectual and spiritual Karlin asserts that the interplay between such contraries exists within all aspects of Browning's poetry and is especially fundamental to the poet's exploration of human relationships.

Following Anaximander he [Heraclitus] conceived the universe as a ceaseless conflict of opposites regulated by an unchanging law, but he found in this law the proper object of understanding; it is the Logos which spans but could not The critics argue that Browning's primary concern in his usage of dramatic monologue is the creation of dramatic speakers and situations.

Additionally, Woolford and Karlin maintain that the style Browning employs is a vocal one — his poetry is meant to be spoken aloud—and they define two distinct vocal styles in his poetry — a voice that "says " and a voice that "sings.

Themes, Motifs and Symbols

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Robert Browning: Robert Browning, major English poet of the Victorian age, noted for his mastery of dramatic monologue and psychological portraiture. His most noted work was The Ring and the Book (–69), the story of a Roman murder trial in 12 books. The son of a clerk in the Bank of England in London, Browning.

Privacy FAQs

Robert Browning — Genre, Mode, and Style [Victorian Web Home —> Authors —> Robert Browning —> Works —> ] The Long Poetic Narrative; The Dramatic Monologue An Introduction; Three Defining Characteristics of Browning's Dramatic Monologues; Robert Browning Last modified 17 July

About Our Ads

Robert Browning’s Style and Popular Poems Browning’s style of writing mainly relies on dramatic monologues, in which the actions, settings, and characters are revealed through their own words. However, this revelation is not done deliberately but inadvertently as the speaker reveals himself and his past actions through images and symbols. Description and explanation of the major themes of Robert Browning’s Poetry. This accessible literary criticism is perfect for anyone faced with Robert Browning’s Poetry essays, papers, tests, exams, or for anyone who needs to create a Robert Browning’s Poetry lesson plan. Browning further illustrated this idea by writing poems that.

Cookie Info

A detailed discussion of the writing styles running throughout My Last Duchess My Last Duchess including including point of view, structure, setting, language, and meaning. Robert Browning: Poems study guide contains a biography of poet Robert Browning, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis of h.