the Poetry of Robert Browning

the Poetry of Robert Browning
Format: Paperback / softback, 128 Pages
ISBN: 9781907776113
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Many of Robert Browning’s poems are concerned with different aspects of human identity. In the great dramatic monologues, such as Fra Lippo Lippi, Andrea del Sarto and My Last Duchess, the question of exactly who is speaking obviously concerns us, but to what extent do the speaker’s language and attitudes mirror those of the poet himself ? In the various poems on the theme of love and sexual relationships which Browning included in his published collections, we inevitably want to know which of these spring directly from his personal experience. Browning, however, never felt a duty to reveal himself to the reader within his poetry. Though he admired several of the Romantic writers among the poetic generation immediately preceding his own, especially Shelley and Wordsworth, he was unwilling to follow their example by relating his discourse to the concept of a dominant ego, an “I” whose personal drama of feeling and experience formed the substance of a sustained narrative. Several of his works deliberately criticise the tendency, made fashionable by the Romantics, to see a poem as offering clues to its writer’s identity and, by association, his private life. In 1874 Browning a poem, House, arguing that the reader has no right to share an author’s privacy:
“For a ticket, apply to the Publisher.”
No: thanking the public, I must decline.
A peep through my window, if folk prefer;
But, please you, no foot over threshold of mine!”

In this guide, Jonathan Keates looks at the roots of Browning’s poetry, at at why he is so influential and at how, despite his determination to keep his private and poetic identities separate, some of his work is so shocking.

The author

Jonathan Keates is the author The Siege Of Venice, described by Jan Morris as "majestic and tremendous" and by John Julius Norwich as "a brilliant history that is also a riveting read". He is the author of biographies of Handel, Purcell and Stendhal, as well as novels, short story collections and travel books on Italy. An English teacher at the City Of London School, he has been singled out for special mention in The Good Schools Guide. He has reviewed for the Observer, Independent, Sunday Telegraph and New York Times, and appears regularly in the Times Literary Supplement and Literary Review. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Society of Antiquaries.

Reader reviews


Format: Paperback / softback, 128 Pages
ISBN: 9781907776113
Illustrations: 3 B&W, 7 Colour
Size: 4.3 in x 6.9 in / 109.22 mm x 175.26 mm