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Robert Browning The Bishop Orders His Tomb Essay

The main innovative function of Men and Women, then, is indicated by its title. While novels had been dramatising the social processes of speakers for nearly a century, that was not true of poetry. And while the techniques of prosopopoeia were not new (neither prior to the Romantics nor among earlier poems in the nineteenth century), Browning in Men and Women places his whole emphasis on the portrayal of separate voices. In the final poem “One Word More: to E.B.B.,” the one poem that is not dramatized as a separate voice, he addresses his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

The Criminal Mind of Robert Browning Essays

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

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Nor does Browning deploy totally or always obviously a dramatic mode. Many of the poems in this publication are presented as if in the traditions of expressive lyricism. But the overwhelming effect everywhere is of a poet dedicated to ambiguities—of tone, mood, point of view, image, conclusiveness—and readers are as much made aware of ironies or disjunctions in speakers’ perspectives as invited to share their feelings. As a poet seriously interested in music, Browning’s own poetry in these volumes might be characterized as a sustained exercise in modal ambiguity, where key signatures are unclear and harmonic relationships are shifting and uncertain. Such uncertainties do not make for easy reading, but may seem rather like listening to a fugue by Master Hugues, as it “broadens and thickens / Greatens and deepens and lengthens” (96-97). Readers might well ask Robert Browning, as the organist asks Master Hugues, whether they are always to confront such a world of unresolved complexity:

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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It's said by the painter Andrea del Sarto (who was a real person--1486-1531), in Robert Browning's 1855 poem by that name. (You'll recognize another well-known line a little later in the poem.) Here's how Browning had Andrea del Sarto say "less is more." He's addressing his beautiful, but somewhat stupid and apparently unfaithful young wife, Lucrezia, for whom he abandoned an important painting commission and--some have said--his calling. Now his acquaintences snigger behind his back for having passed his prime in painting and husbanding.

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Less Is More - Abstract Concrete Works

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].

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning - Wikipedia

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.