Robert Browning The Bishop Orders His Tomb Essay

Professor Emeritus E. Warwick Slinn, Honorary Research Fellow at Massey University, New Zealand, is the author of Browning and the Fictions of Identity (1982), The Discourse of Self in Victorian Poetry (1991), Victorian Poetry as Cultural Critique: the Politics of Performative Language (2003), and various essays in companions to Victorian poetry published by Blackwell and Cambridge.

The Criminal Mind of Robert Browning Essays

What has made Browning’s dramatic monologues so impressive compared to other poets....

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Robert Browning’s , a two volume publication of new poems, was a major literary event in nineteenth-century Britain. These poems shift emphasis from the private, atemporal, and generally non-social genre of Romantic lyricism to the ironies and enigmas of human awareness and social relationships, to dramatic action in human speech. Browning’s men and women are presented overtly as speech acts, grounded in psychological and cultural origins, and in the ambiguities of linguistic processes. Readers often found Browning’s mode of writing obscure, but its methods and implications consistently engage with other domains of Victorian thought—in religion, biology, and psychiatry. While the status of this publication was not widely understood at the time, its value is manifest in its reception history, in the discussion and representations that constitute its ongoing existence as a historical event.

Robert Browning; essays and thoughts

In November 1855 Robert Browning published 51 new poems under the general title of Men and Women. Browning had high hopes for their success, but if an “event” exists only in its representations—discussion, debate, description, the marks that generate its existence—this publication was at the time a minor moment. The two volumes were hardly noticed, barely debated in public and, apart from a few significant admirers (William Morris, the Rossettis, George Eliot), generally dismissed as yet another in a series of obscure works by the enigmatic Mr. Browning (DeVane 205-11; Ryals 132-33; Kennedy and Hair 274-81). It is only by means of their reception history, their public discussion and analysis in the following decades and century, that their cultural and aesthetic value gradually emerged. Ensuing judgements have subsequently defined this event as a watershed in Browning’s career, as among the best three of his publications, along with Dramatis Personae (1864) and The Ring and the Book (1868-69), and as a major moment therefore in the literary history of nineteenth-century Britain.

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The first complete edition of the works of Robert Browning with variant readings and annotations contains: 1. The entire contents of the first editions of Browning’s work; 2. All prefaces and dedications which Browning wrote for his own works and for those of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and others; 3. The two prose essays: and ; 4. The front matter and tables of contents of each of the collected editions (1849, 1863, 1865, 1868, 1888–1889) which Browning himself saw through the press; 5 Poems by Browning published during his lifetime but not collected by him; 9. Poems not published during Browning’s lifetime which have come to light since his death; 7. John Forster’s to which Browning contributed significantly, though to what precise extent has not been determined.

The edition provides a full apparatus, including variant readings and annotations.

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If Cartesian or Romantic idealism fostered a dualism that separated the self from its social and political world, Browning’s portrayal of his men and women, voices not his own, challenged that dualism by showing how selves are part of open systems, inevitably integrated with social processes and other selves rather than isolated among mountains and nightingales. In these volumes individuals, notwithstanding that they speak in monologues, exist and speak in relation to social contexts, as part of human history therefore, rather than as atemporal, isolated minds, and that display is part of what makes the publication a significant event in the history of literature and cultural representation. Instead of allowing Mill’s model of overheard lyricism to explain poetry, Browning in Men and Women restores poetry to the realm of cultural construction and social interaction (see also Tucker, “Monologue”). These are volumes where the claims of personal utterance are indissolubly linked with the constructions and persuasions or anxieties and anticipations of, in shorter poems, passing consciousness, and, in longer poems, the grander designs of identity and power.

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning - Wikipedia

Slinn, E. Warwick. “On Robert Browning’s .” BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. Web. [Here, add your last date of access to BRANCH].